Cold temps are sticking around

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a difference a year makes, we are experience 20 degree temperatures now, but this time last year still enjoying daytime temperatures of 80 degrees and higher. Obviously, you can find both advantages and disadvantages to these low temperatures, but keep in mind we still have many more months of this cold weather ahead and according to forecast it is going to be a cold winter, so go ahead and prepare now and be set up through next spring.

Q. What is a good plant material for making wreaths?

A. Wreaths can be made from any plant you choose, however some do work better than others. If you can get grapevine or other vines to start and build a good plump base it helps. Using cedar or Leyland cypress works great as the base of the wreath.

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Pine needles in cluster work great and the color will fade very little throughout the holiday season.

For a nice accent you can use a variety of natural things. Some other trees that offer good variety are magnolias, hollies, pines and even the tallow tree. Burr oaks provide the huge acorns that are attractive and even the sweet gum balls can add some unique variety. Using florist wire you can fasten almost anything together from pine cones to berries or leaves. Have fun and be sure to let the children be creative. When finished be sure to display it so everyone can enjoy it.

Q. How do you keep poinsettias healthy?

A. We have received a few reports of people having trouble with poinsettias this year, and I can’t say exactly why. But, we now have the options to buy varieties of poinsettias in up to five different colors.

The new varieties have more flowers per stem and some that bloom as early as Thanksgiving. But regardless of variety, a poinsettia should last well past the holiday season when properly maintained and selected.

When selecting poinsettias be sure there are no dark spots or lesions present. Make sure the color is all the way to the edge of the bracts (red leaves) without any green cast, and make sure the smaller bracts, closest to the center of the plant, are colorful, too. Look for strong, stiff stems, good leaf and bract retention, and no signs of wilting, breaking or drooping.

Next, look in the very center of the plant, and you will see the true flowers called the cyathia. This tiny cluster of flowers is the best indicator of a poinsettia’s freshness and quality. Desired poinsettias have a tight clustered set of buds in the center. Look for a plant that has good colored bracts and unopened buds preferably.

The two biggest problems are usually lack of water and improper care. Once poinsettias begin to dry out they begin to fade rapidly so be sure to monitor soil moisture daily and replenish water when soil become dry. Secondly be sure to remove or put holes in the sleeves after purchasing. When sleeves remain on the pot water collects in the bottom and drowns out the rot system resulting in plant loss.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extensions Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.