Poinsettias are headed for the compost pile after freezing
Q. Someone in my office building left three poinsettias outside for several days in 20-degree weather. When I realized that the plants were being left for dead, I took one. How can I bring this plant back to life? I was going to trim it, but it i...
Q. Someone in my office building left three poinsettias outside for several days in 20-degree weather. When I realized that the plants were being left for dead, I took one. How can I bring this plant back to life? I was going to trim it, but it is only the beginning of January, so I thought it might be too soon. Any help you could give me would be great!
A. If the plants were left outside for several days with the temperatures anywhere near 20 degrees, I assure you they are dead. Being dead means nothing can be done about it, so the plants will make a nice contribution to the compost pile. Sorry! When they are purchased from florists during the holiday season, it is advised to have them double bagged and the car warmed before moving them from the store to the car because it takes just a few seconds of exposure to subfreezing weather to do them in.
Q. I bought some tulips that came in clear, plastic pots so you can watch the flowers grow from the root up. There is no soil in the pots, just the bulbs. The pots have a clear plastic dish with holes in it that allow the roots to grow under it and the stems to sprout into flowers. I bought the flowers while they were midway through their growth, so I don't know how they were started from the bulb. How do I get them to start over again inside the plastic pots now that the flowers have reached their peak? I want to see the process over again from scratch. Also, if you are forcing the bulbs (I do not want to plant them outside), can they bloom multiple times in a year or is it once a year? I want to watch these beautiful flowers bloom indoors again in the same plastic pots with no soil. Do they have to start in soil and then be transplanted after the roots start growing? Can I put the bulbs in the refrigerator without soil or peat moss?
A. The grower very cleverly allowed the bulbs to go through a cooling period sufficient to get them to bloom. A tulip bulb has all the nutrients within it to flower, but just once. After flowering, the energy is spent and the foliage whithers. If this is done outdoors, the foliage deteriorates slowly. During the process, the plant carries on photosynthesis that restores the energy needed to get the plant to rebloom the following spring, assuming the required cold period is met. If you visit the southern part of the U.S. where winter temperatures get down to the mid-40s, they don't have enough of a sufficient cold period for the reblooming to take place. Also, the sun gets the temperatures too hot too fast for the plants to make more carbs for reblooming. In a nutshell, you'd be better off just dumping what you have, and this fall purchase more bulbs that have been cold treated or place them in the refrigerator vegetable crisper for six to eight weeks. When new growth is observed at the tip, move them to the plastic holder you describe.
Gardening or houseplant questions can be directed to: Hortiscope, Box 5051, NDSU Extension Service, Fargo, ND 58105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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