Preparing Backyard Flocks for Winter

Many that have a backyard flock enjoy fresh eggs from spring into the early fall. However, there are times when the days get shorter and temperatures get cooler we see a reduction in egg production.

Photo: Kat Lawrence Mississippi State University Extension
Photo: Kat Lawrence
Mississippi State University Extension

There are a few things to consider going into this fall and winter that might change how comfortable the flock is. Even though it is very early to pull out our coats and gloves and get ready for winter, now is a great time to start preparing our chickens for winter.

The coop should be the first thing that comes to mind when preparing for cooler temperatures. Are the walls and ceilings insulated? Is there a way to better insulate the walls or ceiling? If you do plan to insulate the coop be sure to cover the insulation with wood or like material to keep birds from pecking around and rodents from building a nest. Check for drafts in the coop while you at it. You can do this by placing a light source in the middle of the coop and walking around the perimeter of the coop looking for light to shine through. When you find places that you see light you should mark that location and place 4-6 mil plastic on the outside of the coop. Even though all of this helps with maintaining the current temperature additional might be needed. Supplemental heating could help with egg production and protect against chances of frostbite. Frostbite can occur on the combs, waddles, and toes. The waddles are at a higher risk if they get wet while dipping them in the drinking water.

Discoloration of the comb due to frostbite Photo: Brigid McCrea Delaware State University
Discoloration of the comb due to frostbite
Photo: Brigid McCrea
Delaware State University

Discoloration of the combs from yellow to black color indicate frostbite and can be very painful for the chicken. As a preventative measure, you should choose breeds with smaller combs, use small amounts of Vaseline or other protectants, and make perches wider so the toes are not wrapped and are more flat. When choosing a heating source most prefer infrared heaters because they heat the bird not the air. Make sure that the perch is a comfortable temperature because that is where the birds will spend most of the time in the coldest temperatures. Be sure not to place anything in the coop that could be a fire hazard.

The litter is very important in the winter time when the bird could be “cooped” up for long periods of time due to inclement weather. You should have shavings or bedding material 4 to 6 inches deep that are clean and dry. If you have a water spill or have an issue with water running into the coop from rainfall it should be corrected as soon as possible as this could lead to frostbite. While you are looking at things on the ground be sure that you will be able to provide thawed water to the flock. Remember to control the litter for ammonia even if the weather is not conducive for work. If your eyes start watering when you walk in the coop think about what your chickens feel like a few feet below you. There are products (i.e. Chick Flic) that can be applied to the litter that will mask some of the effects of the ammonia. Acceptable levels are 20 to 25 ppm but when they increase you are putting your flock at risk for health problems. A vent placed in the coop to allow air transfer will not only help control the ammonia levels but also help reduce the humidity that can lead to frostbite issues.

If you have hens stop laying in the winter time ask yourself these questions:

Photo: Keri Collins Lewis Mississippi State University Extension
Photo: Keri Collins Lewis
Mississippi State University Extension
  • What are the age of the birds? (Most start laying 16-20 weeks depending on breed)
  • Is there enough light? (14-16 hours of continuous light)
  • Is there adequate food and/or thawed water? (Try a water heater)
  • Did the temperature drop below 55F? (Add supplemental heat)
  • Do you see sick or stressed birds?

If you take a little time in preparing your flock for the cooler temperatures you will be quite impressed with the productivity of your chickens. The more effort you put towards making your coop comfortable the more you will enjoy fresh eggs during the holidays.

Harvest Season Safety

Combine traveling highway
Combine traveling the highway

With harvest underway drivers need to pay extra attention to the roads. During the next couple of months our rural roads and highways will be covered with farm machinery and trailer trucks as the farmers move from field to field harvesting their crops. According to U.S. Department of Transportation a large portion of motor vehicle fatalities occur on rural roads in Mississippi. Rural traffic is often overlooked because of the drivers sense of ‘familiarity’ with the location. However, with many of the population using some type of electronic device including cell phones or GPS it only multiplies the risk.

Combine displaying warning lights and SMV sign

Keep in mind that most farm machinery is moving at a much slower rate than many motorist when it comes to highway travels. For instance, if you are traveling at the posted speed of 65 mph and a combine is 1/2 ahead of you traveling at 15 mph in the same direction it would only take 36 seconds for the two to meet. Now say that there is only 1/4 in between, the time has been halved to 18 seconds. Department of Transportation says the average person sending or receiving a text takes the drivers eyes away from the road for about 5 seconds. It wouldn’t take long for someone to lose concentration and find themselves dangerously close to having a collision. Always pay attention and look for warning lights as well as slow-moving-vehicle (SMV) placards. These placards alert to slow down and keep a safe distance between you and the slower moving traffic until it is safe to pass.

Slow Moving Vehicle sign (SMV)

The following are some tips for both farmers and drivers to keep in mind to help keep this harvest season safe.


  • Ensure all safety lighting works and the proper placards are in place
  • Try to avoid areas with heavy traffic during the peak times
  • Before moving equipment make sure that all personnel and vehicles can be seen
  • If equipment must be park along the road make sure it has been marked down the road


  • Be patient when traveling behind slower moving farm equipment
  • When meeting farm equipment pull to the right hand side of the road ensuring a safe passage
  • If passing machinery or trucks park alongside the road slow down and give room in case there is someone getting in or out
  • Practice safe responsible driving, do not take for granted that the operator can see you passing them

Tomato Warts…..What are they?

13607029_822996601168510_6449260243882194278_nTomatoes have a unique ability of forming adventitious roots or root initials on the main stem. These portions will start as warts ranging in a variety of colors and do not always mean your plants are in danger of dying. There are several reasons your plants might have started putting on these structures and there are ways that you can treat them.

Adventitious roots are almost always a sign of some type of stress including high humidity environments, over watering or poor drainage, root damage, herbicide damage, and disease problems. Most of these are water issues that block the plant from accessing nutrients causing the plants to throw new roots in attempt to gain more nutrients or get out of oxygen deprived (Anaerobic) environments.

When these root initials appear on the lower portion of the stem you can add soil or compost up to that level and the roots will take and strengthen the plant. If you have plants that have been in the pot that are showing signs of this you can plant them deeper when you transplant them. If you have tomatoes that have not been staked or are broken and lying down you will see that they will put on the same roots trying to anchor themselves in the ground as well as give a new passage way to gain nutrients.

13620031_822996617835175_1538159410147227588_nAnytime root initials appear on your plants continue looking for the reason they are there. If you see signs of wilting try adjusting watering frequency. Look for girdled stems, short-stunted plants, browning leaves which can all indicate root injury. In order to best prevent these from forming choose a site that is well drained. Also, only water when the plant needs it and try to refrain from over watering and keeping the site saturated. Remember that these structures are forming in response to a stress. If the stress is corrected these roots will strengthen the plant. Keep and eye out and do not panic because the tomato is surprisingly tough.

Lawn Burweed

Now that most of the kids are out of school and outside playing in the yard many of you have noticed a pesky problem.

Lawn burweed Photo: Joseph M DiTomaso, University of California- Davis,
Lawn burweed
Photo: Joseph M DiTomaso, University of California- Davis,

For some it could be primarily a cosmetic problem but for the ones who have baseball games held in the front yard it could be a painful problem for bare feet. Lawn Burweed is a winter annual that often goes unnoticed until the plant is fully mature. This weed germinates in the fall and has a pale green leaf that resembles parsley.The problem with this weed is that as the temperatures rise in the spring it moves into its reproductive cycle where it forms a spine tipped burr at the tips. These are the defense for the seed and also an inconvenience to pets and bare feet.

Control of this weed is much easier with a healthy turf going into the fall. Making sure that you lawn receives the proper amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients are the best defense against this weed as well as others. Chemical control is also used in the fall as a pre-emergence and late winter as post-emergence. For pre-emergence control, products that have Isoxaben, Prodiamine, or Pendamethalin can be applied in late fall. For post-emergence control products that contain Atrazine is safe on Centipede and St. Augustine and on dormant Bermudagrass. Products that contain 2,4-D, dicamba, and mecoprop can be used on Bermudagrass and Zoysia but can injure St. Augustine and Centipede. Anytime you use chemical control always read and follow label directions.

Lawn burweed poses a unique problem as it almost always escapes our eye as we do not travel our yard often in the winter months but almost always find it in the spring and summer months when it is too late. For those that have this problem now remember that a full, lush turf is a great defense.

Turf matted with lawn burweed Photo: John D Byrd, Mississippi State University,
Turf matted with lawn burweed
Photo: John D Byrd, Mississippi State University,

Try to grow in these areas between now and when temperatures start to decline. Also, be prepared to spray in late fall to inhibit this weed from germinating and again in late winter to catch all of those that escaped. Once you have this pest under control the neighborhood pets and kids will love spending time outside. For more information call your local extension office and take a look at Publication 1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn“.


New Beginnings

For those who have lost the battle with weeds and winter kill over the past two years there is still a chance to turn it around. There was not as much turf was lost to winter kill last year as the previous winter but we did lose some due to improper timing and rates of herbicides. For example glyphosate, i.e. Roundup, is safe on dormant bermudagrass for nonselective control of winter weeds. However, this mild winter and spring warm up allowed the turf to break dormancy earlier than normal. That means that this safe application in previous years became lethal and for the most part had some severe injury on the established lawn.

Glyphosate injury to bermuagrass.  Photo: Jay McCurdy, MSU Extension
Glyphosate injury to bermuagrass.
Photo: Jay McCurdy, MSU Extension

Others have been waiting for quite some time to get out their chemical control allowing the winter and summer weeds to become a part of the landscape. Remember anytime you use any herbicide, fungicide, or insecticide always read and follow the label.

The first point to keep in mind is that a healthy lawn can battle many of the insect, weed, and disease pressures that it faces. This means that a little extra care when mowing, fertilizing and watering your lawn will help maintain its ability to outgrow/crowd out the competition. Also remember that some weeds can also be indicators for agronomic problems such as low/high pH, poor drainage, standing water, and compaction. So keep some of the next steps in mind when trying to maintain your landscape.

Insufficient light for turf grass caused by mature trees. Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden
Insufficient light for turf grass caused by mature trees.
Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden
  • The right grass has been selected for you lawn
  • Soil testing and right fertilization is being applied
  • Meeting the water and light requirement of the grass
  • Mowing at the correct height and frequency

Remember that the oak/maple that you planted in the yard 15 years ago was small enough to allow light to the base of the tree and now it shades a good portion where you are noticing some turf decline over the past couple of years. This can be solved in by a few mutualistic ways. One way is to plant a ground cover/flower bed and place some plants that can thrive in a more shaded environment.

Just keep in mind that all plants need sunlight while some can thrive on indirect sunlight. The second option is to work with a professional on trying to remove some of the branches in the tree allowing more sunlight to pass through the canopy and reach the base of the tree.

Chemical control is just one piece of the puzzle and should accompany the others stated.

Shaded areas planted with tolerant plants. Photo: Southeast Garden
Shaded areas planted with tolerant plants.
Photo: Southeast Garden

If you experiencing some declining turf or weed issues remember most grasses are pretty hardy and with just a few extra steps you can provide your family with many years of an aesthetically pleasing landscape to be proud of. For more information about establishing and maintaining your home lawn contact your local extension office and ask for a publication 1322.

Site Location for a Vegetable Garden

The first step in having a successful vegetable garden is proper site selection. Three main things to consider when deciding where to locate your vegetable garden is whether or not plants will have access to sunlight, fertile soil and water. Most vegetables need at least six hours of full or direct sunlight per day for optimum growth. Obviously, you want to avoid areas such as next to large trees and buildings that could block needed sunlight from plants causing future issues.

Another requirement for producing an abundance of fresh vegetables is good soil. If the soil is hard, rocky, soggy, or nutrient-poor, the vegetables will be, too. In general, vegetable garden soil should be well draining and loose with plenty of organic matter. Poorly drained, fine textured soils such as clay or soils that are too coarse like sand are not ideal. A soil with a high clay content will drain slowly, having the potential to cut off the oxygen supply to plants roots. On the other hand, if the soil is too sandy it may drain too quickly before plants are able to take up the proper amount of much needed water.

If you have a large coffee can you can check the drainage of your new garden site by demonstrating a percolation test.

Percolation Test Photo: C.Robertson Swarthmore College
Percolation Test
Photo: C.Robertson
Swarthmore College

Dig a 4 inch hole that is wide enough for the can and cutting out the bottom of the can. Firmly place the can in the hole so that nothing can escape around the outside edges of the bottom. Fill the can up and watch the water level for an hour. If less than 2 inches drains you have a poorly draining location and 5 or more inches drains then your soil drains a bit too quick. If you don’t have a coffee can you can still dig the hole and fill it with water just bear in mind that some of the water will travel laterally in the soil.

Even though a heavy clay soil like most of our soils here in the delta may be less than ideal for growing vegetables, practicing proper management strategies can help make these soils more optimum. Increasing the organic matter content of a clay soil makes it easier to work, and improves the internal drainage. Increasing the soil’s organic matter content can be done by adding manure, composted leaves, sawdust, bark, etc. Since pH and fertilizer needs vary by type of vegetable, it is important to have your soil tested to help you make the proper adjustments.

Last but definitely not least, your vegetable garden should be located close to a water source. Whether it be in row crop situation, home horticulture or vegetable gardening, water usually the most limiting factor effecting yield.  Vegetable gardens usually use about 1 – 2 inches of water per week during the growing season. Locating your garden near a water source gives you few excuses for letting the garden stress during the heat of summer or in dry weather conditions. Adequate soil moisture is important for seed germination, uniform growth, and productivity. Easy access to a garden hose means less lugging-around of watering cans, and it also helps if you decide to install soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system.

Onions irrigated by drip irrigation. Photo (Michigan State University Extension)
Onions irrigated by drip irrigation.
Photo (Michigan State University Extension)

Other factors to consider is how much produce will be needed to fulfill the needs of family and friends. Places that have been overlooked could have potential weed problems in the future. Try to steer clear from locations with morningglory, nutsedge, and bermudagrass. Also don’t forget to flag off or fence in a site to keep pets and children from playing in the garden. If there is a wildlife that frequents the area, the use of an electric fence could be the best option. Don’t hesitate to contact your local county extension office and ask questions or advice.

The Art of Pruning


Now that we are coming out of a fairly mild winter many homeowners have begun digging in flower beds and debating on what to do with shrubs and shade trees in the landscape. When pruning the plants you have to use proper timing and a touch of art. So you might be asking yourself why I would prune this gorgeous plant. Here are some reasons that would tempt you to do so:

  • Limit the size and shape of the plant so that it does not out grow your intentions
  • Maintain the balance or shape to a hedge or topiary
  • Remove diseased, infected or broken portions of the plant
  • Stimulate new growth or flowering
  • Protect utilities or structures such as your home

If you have any of these thoughts then you will have a good reason to prune. As I mentioned above that pruning can be an art. When you began your landscape you had a vision as to how you wanted it to look. So with the right plant material you can begin to paint your picture. Before you go out with your electric trimmers or handheld shears be cautious to what plant material you are trimming. Broadleaf evergreens such as Red Tip Photinia or Camellia preform very well with tip pruning. Narrowleaf evergreens such as junipers or cedars will respond poorly to removing more than 1/3 of the foliage. Deciduous plants such as oaks and maples will require tip pruning to encourage a thicker growth. Pruning methods such as tip pruning, thinning, and rejuvenation are some of the ways to reach your goal.

Timing is the most critical component for not only aesthetic value but overall plant health. Remember for plants that but out flowers or fruit you want to prune after the show is over or before the bud is set. A general practice is to prune between February and April giving the plant a growing season to heal. Therefore if you have spring flowering plants such as azaleas you will prune following the end of their flowering in late spring.

3 Step pruning technique
3 Step pruning technique

When going after larger diameter branches in shade trees remember to use a 3 step cut to minimize risk to damage to the tree. The first cut in this method will be located 12 inches away from the tree and on the underside of the branch only passing halfway or a little more. The second cut will be placed 2 or more inches outside of the first cut and pass all the way from the top to the bottom allowing that portion to drop leaving a one foot stub. The last and final cut will be made along the branch collar, a raised portion of bark surrounding the stem. This will give to tree the best chance to completely seal off that cut.

Proper pruning cut (Photo: N. Kleczewski, OSU)
Proper pruning cut
(Photo: N. Kleczewski, OSU)

Remember you can remove dead, diseased, or broken portions at any point of the stem.

Always attempt to make clean cuts by keeping your pruning equipment in top shape. Think about what reason you are attempting to prune and what plant material you are pruning.

Take in consideration the time of the year it is as well as every time you make a cut you are placing that plant at risk for fungi, bacteria, and insect damage until it has been able to compartmentalized and covered the injury site.

Improper pruning site (Photo: G. Bachman, MSU)
Improper pruning site
(Photo: G. Bachman, MSU)

Lastly, in most cases pruning can be solved with proper plant selection. For more information contact your local extension office and view IS 204 on

Prep for Planting Fruit Trees


For those who have the itch to get out and play in the dirt you can utilize the rainy weather to plan for what is ahead. Many garden to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Well now is the time to be taking to proper steps if you plan to plant fruit trees in your garden this year. Many gardeners often find trouble with growing fruit often because some of the cardinal rules are ignored.

Site selection should be paired with cultivar/varietal selection for all plant materials. Once you have the requirements for optimal tree growth such as full sun and well-drained soil you are able to select a location for planting. Consider checking with your local extension office or nurseries to see what kinds of disease and insect injuries that the particular variety you are interested in. Publication 736 is very helpful in identifying disease and insect problems as well as guiding you through spray scheduling for apples and pears. Keep in mind that most fruit trees are labor intensive with pruning, fertilizing and spraying. You have to be able to stay ahead of the work in order to reap the benefits. The number of trees should closely reflect the amount of time and effort you will be able to invest.

So remember a few key points in regards to growing your own fruit. Start by choosing a cultivar/variety that fits your plan. Choose a well-drained site preferably on a north facing slope to reduce the likely of losing blooms to an early spring freeze by delaying spring warm up. Fruit trees are offered sold as bareroot, rootball, or in some form of a pot. When transplanting these into the ground make sure that an appropriate sized hole is dug. Often times bareroot trees are cheaper whereas potted plants are more expensive but in many cases offer the best survivability. When digging the hole for the tree make sure that the hole is as deep as the pot but twice as wide as the pot allowing loose backfill dirt to provide room for feeder roots. When planting a bareroot tree it is sometimes necessary to leave a small crown of dirt in the bottom of the hole for support of the roots. The depth of the hole should only as deep as the soil in the pot or the roots on the bareroot stock. This will make sure that the plant will not settle too deep. For more information contact your local extension office and ask for a copy of Publication 966 for information of selection of your fruit trees.

UAS in Agriculture

UAS in AgricultureUnmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have been utilized in many ways for years but for the most part the term drones have been associated with the military. However, until recent years no one has thought about using it for commercial agriculture. The general public and aviation industry are widely skeptical of this type of technology and for good reason.  But like any new technology, if used correctly the benefits will prove its worthiness.

North FarmWhat will they do? These UAS systems will allow producers to monitor larger portions of their farms in detail and be able to identify weak spots in planting and high stress areas including disease and insect pressure and irrigation faults.  By using a series of available cameras/sensors (NIR, LIDAR, multispectral, hyperspectral, etc.) a producer can generate precision maps based on a multitude of data sets that the UAS is set to produce. Even some platforms are equipped with thermal imaging for livestock monitoring. Most importantly this technology can gather areas of interest (GPS coordinates) so that you have a precise location to walk to and see it in person without having to set foot in the field and find problem areas yourself.Sensor Technology

Before purchasing a UAS system you will need to ask yourself some questions. What do I plan to do with this? What kind of data am I looking for? How large of an area to I plan to gather data on? Asking these questions will begin to steer you towards what you will need. There are two different types of airframes used for UAS systems. For small acreages there are multirotors (up to 100 acres) and fixed wing (100 acres +). Multirotors have a much smaller load capacity and a shorter run time on battery but are very useful in “stop and stare” situations. Fixed winged airframes have longer run times and are able to carry larger loads allowing users to equip these with more tools. Unlike the multirotors, the fixed wings are not able to drop into a location and hover.UAS system range

Other considerations include the governance of UAS by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA. There are numerous airports that carry out commercial, general and agricultural aviation duties in Mississippi as well as across the country. This is one reason that the aviation industry is vocal on this technology. For this reason, the FAA has set regulations on UAS operations including the three classes of operators:

  • Hobbyist
  • Public Agency
  • Commercial/Civil


As of December 21, 2015 all small unmanned aircraft (0.55 lbs or 25 g – 55 lbs or 250 g) must register an with the FAA UAS registry ($5 cost) prior to flying outdoors. Anything over 55 lbs must register through the aircraft registry process. If the UAS system is used for flying recreationally or as a hobby you will only need to register your airframe. If you plan to charge for a service or even use the UAS to aid your service or farm without charging you must file for a CoA and a Section 333. The CoA (Certificate of Waiver or Authorization) is an application that explains what type of system you have, where it will be flown, who will fly it, and various emergency procedures. The section 333 is what allows the UAS to be flown for profit such as flying your fields to make production decisions for better yields.

Some other general guidelines:

  • Operating ceiling is 400 ft
  • Fly during daylight hours
  • Maintain line of sight at all times and try to use an observer
  • Do not fly within 5 miles of an active airport or contact the airport prior to flying
  • Do not directly fly over persons and property
  • Maintain a 25 ft buffer from persons and property
  • Do not video or photograph people or property where there is an expectation of privacy


There are mass amounts of rules and regulations that are being put in place to integrate these systems into one of the world’s busiest airspace. As long as the rules are followed then the technology will be very beneficial to all. These systems will allow producers to better utilize inputs and identify problem areas sooner, by using data sets generated as a proactive approach to solving agronomic issues. For more information regarding the regulations that are in place visit


Poinsettias: The Holiday Plant

New crop of red poinsettias

Poisettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are a very popular decorative piece to homes during the holidays. They are most widely known for their lush red colored bracts or ‘leaf like’ structures to many. However, breeders now offer these plants in a variety of colors including white, pink, marbled, yellow and many more. If you can’t find the dazzle you are looking for next to the tree they offer painted and glittered plants. The flowers of these plants are often overlooked due to being small and not as flashy as the colorful bracts.

The poinsettia was introduced by Joel Poinsett, a U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, in 1825. These plants are originally small trees that are native to tropical regions such as Central America and Mexico. Poinsettias contain a white latex sap that resembles milk. Even though they are not deemed poisonous some individuals may develop rashes and some skin/eye irritation if they com in contact with the latex substance.

Purchasing your poinsettias

When purchasing poinsettias for the home always look to start healthy. Look for plants that have lush coloration to leaves and bracts. Since age of the plant can be determined by the color ‘washing’. Choose a plant that doesn’t have leaves torn or milky latex showing. Also look for the small yellow flowers that are found in the center of the bracts which show that the plant is still fresh and not on the downhill slope. Lastly, check to make sure that all the stems are sturdy and their is no evidence of leaves prematurely dropping.

Pink poinsettia

Keeping your poinsettias healthy

Be careful when transporting your plants to your home and pay extra attention to them while removing their cover or slip. Anyone who has ever handles a poinsettia knows that it is very easy to destroy a perfectly healthy plant trying to tote it inside and unbag it.


Poinsettias require at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight a day and placing them in direct sunlight could cause the colorful bracts to fade. Placing plants where it can reach light from a south, east or west window is a better option than north. If the light is too intense you can you a shade to filter some of the light it receives. If there is not a good option for lighting a well lit room will help lengthen the plants health.


Water is key to any plants health but in the case of the poinsettia it is normally a detriment. Overwatering and underwatering cause the same damage and often look the same on the plant. The key is always looking at the soil prior to watering. Check the soil routinely to make sure it is dry to the touch. Also water plants outside of their decorative covers so that water can drain out of the pot freely. Be sure to dump excess water out of collection pans or saucers after watering. Never allow a poinsettia to sit in water causing over saturated soil causing root rot or other problems. Keep in mind that temperature and light will have an effect on water requirements as well.


Poinsettias can continue to flourish in color if maintained in an environment where the temperature stays between 60 to 70 degrees F. Keep this in mind when choosing a location for the plant. Watch for leaves and bracts touching window panes in the homes and vehicles. Keep plants from being exposed to hot and cool drafts within the home such as a hallway, furnace, or chimney.

Try again

For those that have the green thumb attitude you can try to maintain your poinsettia for the next holiday season. Even though it is a daunting task it can be done. In the early spring you will prune your plants back to around 8 inches in height and maintain the temperature, light and water requirements indoors until temperatures outside rise above 50 degrees F at night. At this time you can move the plant outdoors and unlike during bloom you will fertilize the plant every two to three weeks with a slow release complete fertilizer such as an Osmocote 10-10-10. Late May or early June you will need to transplant the plant into a slightly larger pot with adequate growing media such as a peat moss material. Pinch back shoot tips and branches. When temperatures fall below 60 degrees F bring the plant back inside. Remember that poinsettias are short-day length (long nights) plants to stimulate flowering and provide you with the well known colorful bracts. Around October or 10 weeks prior when you want the plant to flower, provide 14 hours of continuous hours of complete darkness while remembering it also needs 8 hours of sunlight.


Signs of Botrytis sp.

There are numerous diseases and pests that attack poinsettias. One very common foliage disease is Botrytis sp.  This plant disease can be readily identified when it develops watermarked lesions on bracts and gray, fuzzy sporulations when the temperature rises past 60 degrees F and the humidity is high. Often times this disease can be controlled with a copper sulfate fungicide. Always read and follow labeled instructions. Other ways to control this disease is to reduce leaf wetness, humidity and remove all infected portions of the plant. Having a fan stir air will also help disrupt this diseases ability to start.

Whiteflies are another problem with poinsettias. The adults eggs are placed on the underside of the leaves where the larva can hatch and feed. Other problems notable problems are spider mites, scales, and root rotting fungi,

Poisettias are a staple in homes during the holidays. With minimal care they bring enjoyment to the holidays season all the way through the New Year. These days poinsettias can be found in every shape, height and color imaginable. Just remember to thoughtful about choosing plants. Start with one that is healthy and provide the proper light, temperature, and water requirements when it gets home. Put them on display and enjoy the fellowship of the holidays with friends and family.