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Gardening Help Desk: Buying poinsettias and protecting against aphids | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy of Meredith Seaver

Poinsettias with wilting, rolling, falling, or turning yellow leaves may not recover, even with the best care. Leave plants like this in the nursery.

Poinsettias have been popping up in stores and nurseries for several days now. You might be used to choosing a poinsettia, but if this is the year you are going to select and bring home your first poinsettia, here are some tips for you.

  • Buy early in the season for the best poinsettia. Nurseries and garden centers have the best selection during the first week or two after Thanksgiving and the flower buds will be younger, which means your poinsettias will last longer.
  • Plan your errands so that you buy your poinsettia last. Poinsettias don’t do well in temperatures below 50 degrees, so you don’t want your plant sitting in your car cooling down on a frosty day.
  • The green leaves of a poinsettia should be dark green, and the colored bracts (leaves) should be fully colored. All or most flower buds should be closed. Leave behind any plants that have yellowed, wilted, or drooping leaves.
  • If your poinsettia was protected in a plastic sleeve, carefully remove the sleeve as soon as you get it home.

Check back next week for tips on how to keep your poinsettia healthy and beautiful throughout the holiday season.

Courtesy of Meredith Seaver

Look for poinsettias with fully colored bracts and dark green leaves from top to bottom.

I live in Provo and I inherited a huge rose garden. All the roses are aphid and I need to know what to do now that we are getting into the cold season. In early spring it was also bad with aphids and I used water and dish soap but now I have already turned off the water sprinkler so I want to know at what level I could cut to catch aphids. Thank you in advance for your help. I am a lost gardener.

The fact that you recognized the problem and tried to control it shows that you are not a lost gardener!

The aphids should be gone by now, but even if they aren’t, I wouldn’t be too worried about them at this point. They can really spoil your flowers, but no matter the time of year, aphids don’t really affect the health of roses unless they carry a virus.

You don’t need to prune right now, unless the stems are long enough that they can bend and break under a snow load (if we get snow). If they’re over 5-6 feet tall, you can cut them down to around 3.5-4 feet tall and then do a final pruning next year in the spring when the buds start to swell.

Pruning is not a good way to get rid of aphids on your roses. Next year, at the first sign of aphids on the buds, start watering the aphids every morning, or every other morning, with a heavy spray of water from a hose. It is an efficient and free method of control. If you’ve done a thorough job of watering your roses but the aphids seem to be getting out of hand, you can try spraying the aphids with insecticidal soap weekly, or as often as your product label recommends. Insecticidal soap, formulated specifically for use on plants, is a better choice for your roses than water mixed with dish soap.

We recently did an addition and a fair amount of construction on our house which left us with a ripped yard and sprinkler system. But it left a sparse lawn and lots of muddy spots. We’re going to redo the sprinkler system and install a nice Localscape in the spring, but we have to get through the next few months of mud, especially since we have two dogs who like to run around the yard.

Is there a good material that we can lay out on the yard to minimize the amount of mud? What about mulch or straw or whatever?

You’ll have less work if you can just plow everything in the spring before you start working in your garden, so bark nugget mulch won’t be a good option. Something like straw might be fine, but it might not decompose enough over the winter to sink in easily.

A soil conditioner made from bark fines would work well for sludge control, but it may contain super fine shards since it is just crushed wood. It’s easy to plow underneath as it has a fine texture and it packs tightly with a little moisture and foot traffic, but I’m not sure if your dogs would have a hard time getting between their toes and pads.

Another option that you can try is to use a thick layer of inexpensive compost. It would plow easily in the spring and also improve aeration and soil drainage. It would be necessary to experiment to see if it would withstand the wear and tear of dogs.

Bulletin

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