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As an Agriculture Extension Agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service I have had an opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of agriculture. From the 5,000 cow dairy to the types of trees to use in a home landscape I have had a chance to learn how the different parts of an agriculture systems work together. Seedless watermelons, drip irrigation, pecan orchard management, fruit crop development, dairy nutrient management, environmental issues confronting agriculture, producer tours, field days, research projects and more have been a part of my life for over 30 years as I lived and breathed agriculture. Since 2004 I have been actively involved in consulting internationally working in Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, India, and China. I have worked with missionaries and other groups dedicated to alleviating poverty among third world farmers. I lived in the Middle East in 2007-2008 working on a project for the Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. In this project I was the Chief of Party and Team Leader for a $5.7 Million dollar effort to train Iraqi Extension agents and specialists in all aspects of agriculture.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Saving Those Old Poinsettia Plants

I have a special friend who loves to save old plants and one of the plants she saves is old poinsettia plants. She is sure she can coax them into blooming again next year and she is right. Just about everyone still has a poinsettia plant left over from Christmas and for many the plant really looks good. The real question is how to keep it looking good until it blooms again next year. The following is a list of things to do to help coax your poinsettia to grow and bloom again next year.
1. At New Year’s or in January apply an all purpose house plant fertilizer. Continue light, water and fertilizer. Plant will remain colorful for many weeks.
2. Valentine’s Day do nothing unless your plant has become long and leggy. If it has, prune to 5 inches from the soil.
3. St. Patrick’s Day. Remove faded and dried parts of the plant. Add more soil, a potting soil mix that is light.
4. May. Poinsettia should be around 3 feet tall. Trim off 2-3 inches from ends of branches to promote side branching. Re-pot to larger container and move the plant outside, first in indirect light and then to direct sunlight. They like lots of sun but be careful the pot will dry out quickly since the soil mix is so light.
5. July 4, trim plant again. Make sure it has full sunlight and slightly increase the amount of fertilizer. Remember this plant will now grow like a weed so be prepared for a much bigger plant.
6. September the poinsettia should be 5 to 6 feet tall and depending on the weather it may be time to move indoors or at least protect it from cold nights. It still needs at least 6 hours of direct sun and now you can reduce the fertilizer.
7. September 21 move the plant to a place where you can give it 13 hours of continuous darkness like in a closet with 11 hours of bright light. It is very important to keep the night temperatures in the mid 60's so a garage may be your best bet. Continue to water and fertilize.
8. Thanksgiving you can stop the “dark treatment” and put the plant in a sunny location in the house and reduce water and fertilizer.
9. Christmas enjoy your large blooming poinsettia. It might even double as a Christmas tree.

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