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Question:

Could you tell me what I need to do in order to keep my Poinsettia plants from withering away so quickly? 

Answer:

The leaves on Poinsettia plants turn yellow, curl and shrivel quickly do to warm temperatures and excessive moisture. It’s a perennial problem that I thought would have been conquered by today’s plant breeding techniques; however, this has not been achieved yet. Poinsettias like to be kept in a cool room, preferably under sixty-five degrees. They need to be kept away from heater vents and operating fireplaces. Plants placed lower to the ground perform better than those up high because of the rising heat. Also, avoid placing plants in a draft, especially by doorways as the sudden change in temperature causes problems. Those plants displayed outdoors in a protected entryway survive even on the coldest of nights. The warmer the room the quicker the leaves shrivel; however, the colorful bracts or flower is not usually affected. When the flower and leaves collapse, excessive moisture is usually the reason. Poinsettia plants like to be kept uniformly moist. Before watering, stick your finger down an inch in the soil. If it feels moist to the touch then skip the watering but don’t let them go totally dry. This wet to dry to wet conditions is problematical. Be sure to punch a hole in the decorative covers so the water can drain and dump any excess water that collects in saucers. You might consider Cyclamen or Zygocactus as a red or white alternative plant. They’ll are not as finicky indoors.

Question:

Three months ago, I planted two Italian Cypress trees hoping to hide my neighbor’s house but they’re not doing well. What do I need to do too improve things?

Answer:

he first thing I’d do is to check the planting depth of the Italian Cypresses. The original root ball should be at the soil surface or above. If not, I’d look to raise the plants by gently lifting them up with a shovel and repositioning them. This is when the weather is permitting. All too often, we dig a bowl shape hole and place the plant at the bottom. The sides then collapses burying the plant deeper than was intended. You should think of the root ball as a castle with the water basin as the moat around it. It’s okay to have roots exposed on the soil surface. Mulching during the summer along with the canopy protects any exposed roots. Being planted too deep in our clay soils is the number one nondisease or pest related reason plants die. When left untouched, the plant(s) struggle with little new growth and then one day it turns brown and dies. You"re not going to see and changes in your plants until next spring as the growing season has concluded. After the rainy season concludes you need to watch the watering frequency.


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Italian Cypress do not like to be overwatered. Once every ten days to two weeks during the summer should be adequate for established plants.