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Gardening Q&A

Ask the Master Gardeners: January 2014

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

January 1, 2014 | 7,948 views | Post a comment

Q: I always receive a poinsettia or a Christmas cactus or an amaryllis for Christmas. What do I do with them after Christmas?

A: They can be replanted for next year.

The potted poinsettia should be kept in bright natural light and watered when the soil is dry. According to Doug Welsh, A&M extension horticulturist, cut the plant back to 8 inches above the soil when it becomes long and leggy. After March 17, put the plant outside in morning sun and afternoon shade. Fertilize, then water when dry. At the end of May, trim a little off each branch so it will put out more side branches, repot into a larger pot, and move into direct sunlight. In July trim again. Continue watering and fertilizing. By Labor Day move the plant into indirect filtered light with night temperature above 65 and give the plant 14 hours of darkness (cardboard box) and 10 hours bright light each day. Discontinue at Thanksgiving and bring the plant into the brightest natural light in the house. Water when dry. It should rebloom by Christmas. Or, if this is all too much, support your local nurseries and buy a new plant each year (or you can try planting the poinsettia outside).

Christmas cactus also likes short days and long nights to bloom. Welsh says his mother grew hers on the kitchen windowsill where the lights were turned off after dinner. I would think the same thing would work with a pantry window sill that gets light during the day and no light once the sun goes down.

For amaryllis, I suggest planting them outside on the south side of the house after they finish blooming and let them adapt to a natural schedule. They may not bloom at Christmas, but they will bloom and multiply.

Q: What should I be doing in the vegetable garden this month?

A: If your garden is like mine, you should probably be weeding. Of course, a lot of my little weeds are baby larkspur and blue bonnets (which I will leave even though they will throw a lot of seeds again next year). Any dead plants or trash on the soil should be removed because they give pests a place to winter over. Now that they have frozen, cut back your asparagus plants. I noticed this morning that my spinach and beet babies both need to be thinned. And I think I have a strawberry about ready to be picked.

The frozen plants in your landscape beds, if you can stand it, should be left alone and pruned later. This gives birds a place to stay. If you must prune, do not prune into the live wood as our warm days might tempt the plants to sprout. New sprouts are delicate and will freeze.

Use this time of year to peruse seed catalogs. Send off for some of those seeds that you have been wanting to try. I am buying some French marigold seeds to see if they will help decimate my root knot nematode population.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is guadalupecountymastergardeners.org. The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, at the Mary B. Erskine School in Seguin at the corner of E. Krezdorn and N. River.
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