Getting poinsettia to bloom can be tricky

Q: I have had a large poinsettia since last Christmas. Is there a way to encourage blooms this year? It seems I read somewhere to put it into a dark place without water for a period of time. Anything you can tell me will help.

A: Yes, but you should have started in September. Getting a poinsettia to bloom precisely during the Christmas season is a little tricky. They require the exact amount of darkness, every day, with no interruptions from light while they are plunged into their darkness.

Not even a little peek at them or a door opening to a closet while it is dark. One little peek when it is supposed to be dark can prevent your poinsettia from changing color. Just buy a new one each year. It can be a real headache trying to make this happen.

A poinsettia will change its color when it receives more than 12 hours of total and absolute darkness for three months. For instance, keep the plant in complete darkness between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily from the end of September until the leaves begin turning color (early to mid-December). Then it is safe to turn the light back on.

The temperature should remain between 60 and 70 degrees F. Night temperatures above 70 to 75 F may delay or prevent flowering. Growing poinsettia in low light may cause leaf drop. Growing them without enough water or too much water can cause leaf drop. Growing them in cold temperatures can cause leaf drop.

Growing 100 of them in a greenhouse is relatively easy. But growing one plant in isolation can be a headache.

Q: How long can I leave ripe lemons on the tree? Will they rot or drop? It’s a Meyer about five years old.

A: It’s best to harvest them as they are ripening over a four-week period. Snip them from the tree with sharp pruners or scissors, leaving a very tiny attachment from the stem remaining on the fruit.

Removing this tiny attachment causes an open wound on the fruit. It might seem unimportant, but this wound is an opportunity for rotting organisms to enter the fruit and cause early loss.

Lemons don’t improve after they’ve been picked, much like figs, grapes and cherries. Once you’ve picked the fruit, that is the best it can be. I wash the fruit and put them in the refrigerator in a loose plastic bag to keep the humidity high and temperature low.

Pick them as they start ripening during the winter, usually December in our climate. You can pick them for three to four months.

Leave them on the tree no longer than the first part of January. Leaving them on much longer than this might interfere with flowering and fruit production in the next production cycle.

Q: I just read an article you wrote about overseeding a fescue lawn, and I had a couple questions. Is it possible to overseed a lawn in December? I have a fescue lawn that has Bermuda grass, and I just can’t seem to get rid of it. Will overseeding help with this as well? I mainly want to keep my fescue green all year, which is why I want to overseed.

A: Overseeding a lawn will not help control Bermuda grass or help it stay green through the winter. Mowing at the proper height, along with some added maintenance care and applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer just before cold weather sets in, are the best preventive measures.

Soil temperatures should be at least 60 F for fescue seed to germinate in a timely fashion. Seed germinates faster with warmer temperatures. Unless the lawn is in a very warm location — a warm microclimate, let’s say — it is too late to overseed after temperatures become cold.

Bermuda grass needs sunlight to invade a lawn. Mowing a tall fescue lawn less than 2 inches, and edging it with a line trimmer so that the grass is short or damaged, will increase the chance of Bermuda grass invasion.

Applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer in late fall (around Thanksgiving in our climate) keeps existing fescue green through cold temperatures in winter. Even applying just 21-0-0 now, in early December, will help if you missed the Thanksgiving application.

Q: I am planning on an herb garden in the spring, but there are rabbits in the neighborhood. Which herbs would be most rabbit resistant?

A: When growing vegetables and herbs next to the open desert, I have had to contend with jackrabbits and desert cottontail rabbits. The most effective way of controlling these varmints is to erect 2-foot-tall, 1-inch hexagon chicken wire fencing around the beds. In other words, exclude them from the growing area.

Bury the bottom edge of the fencing about an inch into the dirt, so they can’t get their noses under it. Keep the fencing tight. I have seen baby cottontails exit fenced gardens through 1-inch hexagonal holes of chicken wire at a dead run when they were very young. Sometimes, when young bunnies get in and hide in these beds, they get fat and can’t get out.

Personally, I would not rely on a list of so-called rabbit resistant plants unless there are lots of other plants for these varmints to choose from — like your neighbors. I have found that when bunnies get hungry, they will eat plants that are supposed to be resistant to rabbits.

Q: A few weeks ago my purple sage plants started turning yellow. I’ve cut back on the drip system to three days a week, 15 minutes at a time. A local nursery told me to add iron and acid liquid, which I did. It’s not looking much better. From the picture I sent, can you identify the problem?

A: Some people might know this plant as Texas ranger. Because the plant is not growing during cold weather, any improvements to the plant’s health won’t be realized until next growing season. But I can see several things going on in the picture.

Texas ranger is a desert-adapted plant native to the Chihuahuan Desert of northern Mexico and stretching into Texas. It can handle low amounts of water, high temperatures, low temperatures, low humidity and relatively poor soils. Let’s keep those points in mind as we work through these problems together.

You have several of them planted together as a hedge. I can see they have been pruned repeatedly with hedge shears. Texas ranger can handle hedging, but repeated pruning from hedge shears is taking its toll.

Repeated pruning at the same location with hedge shears causes the plant to become very dense on its outer surface but increasingly woody inside the hedge. Plants can handle hedging for a few years, but the “woody” stems inside start to show through.

The soil surrounding these plants is all minerals with no organics left in the soil that would improve plant health. Any kind of plant health problems causes leaf drop and exposes woody stems on the inside. Unhealthy plants cannot handle cold and hot temperature extremes as well as healthy plants.

I think you are seeing the result of repeated hedge shearing, diminishing nutrients in the soil (because there is nothing organic added) and cold weather leaf drop. Adding fertilizers without amending the soil with organics will not improve the plant much.

What to do? Your options are to make some corrective changes to the plants or replace them. Making corrective changes will make the plant look bad for a while but eventually will improve it.

Shear the hedge 1 or 2 inches to the inside of its canopy, back to the woody interior. This will cause new growth to appear next spring just beneath the woody, sheared surface. This will provide a new, young surface to shear for a few years.

Apply compost to the soil surface surrounding these plants and cover it with woodchip mulch, rather than bare soil or rock. It’s a desert-adapted plant, but even these plants grow better with a smaller amount of organics in the soil.

The other option is to replace these plants with a different plant that handles hedge shearing better.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert and professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. Send questions to Extremehort@aol.com.

Local
Las Vegas kids attend school in the snow
Las Vegas children attend school during a rare snowstorm on Feb. 21, 2019. Staton Elementary School and other CCSD schools remained open. (Glenn Cook/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People enjoying the snow in Summerlin
Fox Hill Park in Summerlin was busy Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019, with people enjoying the rare snow that fell overnight. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP advises motorists to take caution during Las Vegas snowstorm
NHP advised motorists to take caution during the snowstorm in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Timelapse of snow at Red Rock Canyon
More than 7 inches of snow fell in the western areas of the Las Vegas Valley, including Red Rock Canyon, on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow falls at Fremont Street Experince in Las Vegas
Snow falls at the Fremont Street Experience early Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 in Las Vegas. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Summerlin
Snow in Summerlin on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (Anastasia Hendrix/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Snow At Red Rock Casino
Early morning snow in Summerlin on Thursday, feb. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Northwest Las Vegas sees heavy snow fall
Drivers on the 215 Beltway in northwest Las Vegas faced heavy snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow at Red Rock Casino and Resort.
Snow continues to fall Thursday morning in Summerlin. Heaviest snow west of 215.
Snow soccer in Las Vegas -VIDEO
Players enjoy a game of soccer during a snowstorm in the Anthem area east of Las Vegas on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow falls Wednesday evening in Las Vegas
Heavy snow began falling Wednesday evening in the southwestern part of the Las Vegas valley. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Snow falls on the Las Vegas Strip
Snow falls outside the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip as the Golden Knights play the Boston Bruins. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow near Deer Springs and Buffalo
Snow near Deer Springs Way and Buffalo Drive in the northwest Las Vegas Valley on Feb. 20, 2019.(Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Las Vegas at Red Rock Casino Resort
A winter storm brings snow to Red Rock Casino Resort in Summerlin on Feb. 20, 2019. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February 20 snow in Centennial Hills (Part 2)
Snowstorm in the far northwest valley. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February 20 snow in Centennial Hills
Snowstorm in the far northwest valley. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NDOT prepares for snow and ice from winter storm
The Nevada Department of Transportation gears up to keep roads open when snow and ice hit the Las Vegas valley.
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working cats at St. John the Baptist Church
Parish councilmember John Koutsulis talks about the two cats St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church have adopted as part of a working cats program.
Lee Canyon snow makes skiers smile
Skiers and snow boarders took advantage of the Presidents Day holiday and the recent snowfall at Lee Canyon, outside of Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston gets fresh blanket of snow
A winter storm drops nearly four inches of fresh snow on Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Mount Charleston outside Las Vegas. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in the Las Vegas Valley
Snow accumulated in the Las Vegas Valley for the first time in more than a decade, with snow falling mostly in the western, northwestern and southern areas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal) @bizutesfaye
Snow at US 95 and Lee Canyon Road
Passers-by pulled off Lee Canyon Road northwest of Las Vegas Monday to play in the fresh snow. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Road truck on an empty I-15
Snow and ice contributed to the closure of Interstate 15 near Primm. Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal
I-15 traffic diverted at St. Rose Parkway
The Nevada Highway Patrol has closed Interstate 15 in both directions between south Las Vegas and the California state line due to icy road conditions, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ice on roadway shuts down I-15 south of Las Vegas
An overnight snowstorm left an icy roadway, causing the Nevada Highway Patrol to shut down Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas to the California state line. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 closed at St. Rose Parkway
Ice on Interstate 15 caused the Nevada Highway Patrol to close the highway from St. Rose Parkway in south Las Vegas to the California state line on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driving a snowy Sunday night in Summerlin
Several inches of snow have fallen in Summerlin on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. This shows street conditions between Charleston and Far Hills in Summerlin. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Winter wonderland at Summerlin park
A snowstorm hit Fox Hill Park in Summerlin on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February snowstorm in western Las Vegas
A snowstorm hit Summerlin and parts of western Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. (Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Life
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Army medic’s Afghanistan story told in new book
The graphic novel “Machete Squad” is based on journals written by Las Vegan Brent Dulak.
Las Vegas man talks about losing his wife
Dwayne Murray, 37, lost his wife, LaQuinta while she was at Centennial Hills Hospital. A jury awarded him $43 million last week after it said the hospital failed to perform the standard of care in administering a drug for her sickle cell disease.
Barber sets up shop in grandfather’s old shop
Andres Dominguez’s new barber shop is filled with memories of his grandfather, who ran the El Cortez landmark for more than 30 years. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life and times of a 90-year-old horse player
Leo Polito of Las Vegas describes meeting legendary jockey and trainer Johnny Longden on the beach at Del Mar. Mike Brunker/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Revisiting “Christ the King” sculpture
A longtime admirer of the sculpture at Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas shares her perspective. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator Christmas House
Arguably better than a hotel holiday display, is Terry and Angie Fator's home located in southwest Las Vegas.
UNLV Winter Graduation Packs Thomas & Mack
UNLV's 55th winter commencement ceremony included approximately 2,146 undergraduate and graduate students who recently completed their studies. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Build-A-Bear comes to Reed Elementary School
Students participated in a Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Doris Reed Elementary School in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the LVRJ
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center art depicts names of God
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center founder Sharaf Haseebullah talks about new diamond-shaped art panels featuring some of the 99 names of Allah at the main entrance the Las Vegas mosque. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Catholic Charities hosts early Christmas meal
Students from the Bishop Gorman High School football and cheerleader team helped to serve food at the Christmas meal sponsored by the Frank and Victoria Fertitta Foundation at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada on Sunday. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing