Horticulture 2021 Newsletter No. 46

Horticulture News

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https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/newsletters/index.html

Blog Post: http://www.ksuhortnewsletter.org

Video of the Week: Choosing the Best Poinsettia
https://kansashealthyyards.org/all-videos/video/choosing-the-best-poinsettia

UPCOMING EVENTS
Turf Conference
The 71st Annual Kansas Turf & Landscape Conference will be held in-person this year on December1 & 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Manhattan. The conference is an excellent way to learn about turf and landscape management, visit with old friends, network with new ones, and see all the latest products and supplies from local and national vendors.
The conference has been approved for commercial pesticide recertification hours:
1 Core hour
3A – 7 hours
3B – 7hours

GCSAA education points and International Society of Arboriculture CEUS will also be available by attending the conference.

You can register online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2021-kansas-turf-landscape-conference-registration-167328585303
Register before November 22 to receive a discounted rate

REMINDERS
1. Take a soil test and make needed adjustments this fall.
2. Till fallen tree leaves into garden beds

FRUIT
Winterizing Strawberry Plants
Winter can be a difficult time for strawberries in Kansas. Plants need time to become adjusted to cold weather and will gradually become more cold resistant as fall progresses. Strawberry plants are able to withstand colder temperatures in the middle of the winter than in the fall before they have gone through much cold weather. For example, if temperatures suddenly plummet below 20 degrees F before the plants harden to the cold, they can be severely damaged. A drop to 15 degrees F may kill them. Hardened plants can withstand such temperatures with ease.

Normally, strawberries should be mulched for the winter between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mulching plants helps protect strawberries not only from low temperatures but also from heaving damage. Heaving damage occurs when the alternate freezing and thawing common in Kansas winters heave plants out of the ground where the roots are exposed and the plants die from lack of water.

Wheat straw makes good mulch if it is clean (free from weed seed and wheat kernals). Prairie hay also makes a good mulch. The material should be spread over the plants to a depth of 3 inches. Shake the slabs of straw or prairie hay apart so there are no large compressed chunks. This mulch not only helps protect the plants over winter but can also help avoid damage from late spring frosts by delaying blooming a few days in the spring. Mulch should be removed gradually in the spring as plants begin new growth. Remove enough so leaves can be seen.

Leaving some mulch in place keeps the berries off the ground and conserves moisture. Also, mulch left in the aisles helps protect pickers from muddy conditions. (Ward Upham)

FLOWERS
Poinsettia Care
Modern poinsettia varieties stay attractive for a long time if given proper care. Place your poinsettia in a sunny window or the brightest area of the room, but don’t let it touch cold window panes. The day temperature should be 65 to 75 degrees F. with 60 to 65 degrees at night. Temperatures above 75 degrees will shorten bloom life, and below 60 degrees may cause root rot. Move plants away from drafty windows at night or draw drapes between them to avoid damage from the cold.

Poinsettias are somewhat finicky in regard to soil moisture. Avoid overwatering because poinsettias do not like “wet feet.” On the other hand, if the plant is allowed to wilt, it will drop some leaves. So how do you maintain proper moisture? Examine the potting soil daily by sticking your finger about one-half inch deep into the soil. If it is dry to this depth, the plant needs water. When it becomes dry to the touch, water the plant with lukewarm water until some water runs out of the drainage hole, then discard the drainage water. (Ward Upham)

Are Poinsettias Poisonous?
At times, an old time rumor is resurrected that poinsettias are poisonous. This is NOT true. Though there may be an allergic reaction to the milky sap, there has never been a recorded case of poisoning. This rumor has been so persistent that members of the Society of American Florists have sought to dispel it by eating poinsettia leaves for the press.

The AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants states that the poinsettia “has been found to produce either no effect (orally or topically) or occasional cases of vomiting. This plant does not contain the irritant diterpenes” which is the toxin in other members of the genus Euphorbia to which poinsettia belongs. (Ward Upham)

MISCELLANEOUS
Ashes in the Garden
You may have heard that using wood ashes on your garden can help make the soil more fertile. Though ashes do contain significant amounts of potash, they contain little phosphate and no nitrogen. Most Kansas soils are naturally high in potash and do not need more. Also, wood ashes will raise the pH of our soils, often a drawback in Kansas where soils tend toward high pH anyway. Therefore, wood ashes add little benefit, and may harm, many Kansas soils. In most cases it is best to get rid of them. (Ward Upham)

Storing Power Equipment for the Winter

Late fall or early winter is a good time to service power equipment such as mowers, tillers and garden tractors. Run the equipment out of gas or treat the existing gas with a stabilizer as untreated gas can deteriorate over time. If using a stabilizer, run the engine long enough for untreated gas in the carburetor bowl to be burned and replaced. This is also a good time to replace the oil (and filter, if present) since the engine is warm. Check and replace the spark plug if necessary. Some gardeners will also apply a light, sprayable oil into the cylinder through the spark plug hole. Check and clean air filters and replace if necessary. Many mowers and tillers will have a foam prefilter that can become filthy with use. If allowed to become too dirty, engines will run poorly or may not run at all.

Sharpen blades, clean tines, tighten screws, replace broken parts and do all the other things needed to keep equipment in good shape. Though such maintenance takes some time and effort, it pays for itself by reducing frustration and lost time due to poorly performing equipment during a hectic spring. (Ward Upham)

Why Do Houseplants Lose Leaves After Being Brought Inside?
Newly bought houseplants or those brought in from outside often lose at least a portion of their leaves. In order to understand why this occurs, we need to look at how these plants are grown and what the plant needs to do to adapt to its new environment. Houseplants are normally produced either under shade outdoors in southern states or in greenhouses.

Also, many homeowners move their houseplants outside during the summer. Regardless, the plants receive much more sunlight than they do in an indoor environment. Research done in Florida in the late 1970s revealed that tropical plants grown under high light conditions produce ‘sun leaves’ while those grown under low light conditions have ‘shade leaves.’ These leaf types differ structurally in that sun leaves have less chlorophyll (the substance that plants use to convert sunlight to energy) and the chlorophyll that is present is located deeper inside the leaf. Sun leaves also tend to be thick, small and numerous while shade leaves are more thin, larger, and fewer in number. When plants are moved from one light condition to another they need time to adjust. This process is known as acclimatization. If they are forced to acclimatize too quickly, they will drop their sun leaves and produce a new set of shade leaves. If the acclimatization process is slower and less drastic, the plant can convert their sun leaves to the shade leaves that do better under low light. If going from shade to sun, this process is reversed.

Some houseplants are acclimatized before they are sold but many are not. So how do we help our new houseplants or those moved inside acclimatize to their new home environment? Houseplants should start out in an area of the home that receives plenty of light and then gradually moved to their permanent, darker location. This process should take 4 to 8 weeks depending on the degree of difference in light levels between the initial and final location of the plant. Remember, plants need to be acclimatized whether they are moved from a sunny location to one that receives less light or from shade to sun.

Understanding plant processes allows us to anticipate potential problems. Acclimatization gives our houseplants a greater chance of retaining leaves and avoiding the stress of completely replacing them. (Ward Upham)

Contributors: Ward Upham, Extension Associate

Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources
1712 Claflin, 2021 Throckmorton
Manhattan, KS 66506
(785) 532-6173

For questions or further information, contact: [email protected] OR [email protected]
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K-State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. If you have special requirements due to a physical, vision or hearing disability, or a dietary restriction please contact Extension Horticulture at (785) 532-6173.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, as amended. Kansas State University, County Extension Councils, and United States Department of Agriculture Cooperating, Ernie Minton, Dean.

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