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Just in time for the holidays: Poinsettias webpage

If you have a new poinsettia this holiday season, or still have one from last year, you'll want to check our the new Extension webpage on Poinsettias and how to help them re-bloom, and even thrive all year long!

I was never a fan of poinsettias. They were too holiday-specific for me. In the past, I thought having a poinsettia after Christmas was like never taking down the wreath on your door. I always  thought poinsettias looked pretty dull and color-less after the bracts dropped (the bracts form the  "petals" on the plant, but actually modified leaves).

However, researching and writing this new webpage has renewed my interest in poinsettias and I am looking forward to bringing one (or maybe more) home with me this weekend.

Take a look at the new webpage. I hope it brings
you tidings of great joy - and a healthy poinsettia.

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

Recent posts

Meet a new invasive tick: the Asian longhorned tick

An advantage of winter and its cold weather is there are certain pests for which we do not have to worry about until spring. At the top of this list is ticks. However, to remind us that trouble is never far off, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a news release, to warn of a rapidly increasing threat from a new invasive tick, the Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis.
A serious pest Originally from China, Korea, Japan, and other areas of east Asia, the Asian longhorned tick is a serious pest because it can vector many different diseases to not only people but also to pets, livestock, and wild animals.

Asian longhorned ticks can also reproduce without mating, a real time saver, allowing them to produce particularly large numbers of offspring, up to 2,000 eggs at a time.

This invasive tick has since spread to New Zealand and Australia where it is a significant pest on cattle. There are times when Asian longhorned ticks have become so a…

Gift Idea: Good Books for Minnesota Gardeners

Nothing like a cold day in January in Minnesota when you don't have to go anywhere, so you can sit by the fire with a good book! Give your favorite gardener this pleasure this holiday season with one of our Extension Educators' favorite books!

You'll find books by local authors and information about peonies, orchids, native plants and more like zero-waste gardening. Many of these topics are written specifically written for the Minnesota gardener.

Please note, the links are to the publishers' sites but you can find these book at many sources online.

Happy giving and happy reading!

Peonies The Best Varieties for Your Garden by David Michener and Carol Adelman, Timber Press 2017 Do you love to grow peonies or know someone who does? David Michener is the University Services Curation and Manager at Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan, where he manages an award-winning Peony Collection.  Carol Adelman owns a peony farm in Oregon....trusted information fr…

Amaryllis provide a dramatic show (and fun to grow!)

Ah. Amaryllis - a favorite plant to give, get and grow around the holiday season! A member of the Lily family, its enormous colorful flowers give us a sense of the tropics during these cold winter days. Amaryllis are fun for anyone to grow - I've given them to everyone from 4 to 90 year-olds, bosses and colleagues, family and neighbors. They are inexpensive, beautiful and dramatic additions to any home.

But how do you take care of them after they bloom? And why can it be hard to get them to bloom again? Every year people ask us these questions, and while we can't ask the plants, we do have an excellent webpage for all the amaryllis owners out there:  Growing and caring for amaryllis.

If you are giving amaryllis this year, I suggest printing a copy to present along with the plant or emailing them the link to the recipient for future reference. They'll have everything they need to keep their amaryllis healthy from year to year.

Enjoy the holiday season - it's a great ti…

A low-salt diet: Critical for our landscapes and waterways

Snow and ice removal on roads, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways can make getting around Minnesota a lot easier during winter. Improperly maintained, icy surfaces can cause debilitating falls and car accidents, and even create liability issues. But before you pull out your deicing salts to make conditions safer, consider the impact of these chemicals on our plants and our waterways.
How do deicers work? While regular snow removal reduces the potential for slippery conditions, sometimes ice can build-up and create hazards. Deicing salts are applied onto icy surfaces and reduce the melting point of water to anywhere from 20°F to - 30°F depending on the formulation. This prevents ice from forming.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, sodium chloride is the most commonly used product for deicing roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways. Other deicing chemicals include magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate and urea.

Organic additives li…

Podcast: Busting Horticultural Myths with Linda Chalker-Scott

As gardeners, we always want to find effective, sustainable solutions to our plant problems. Browsing the internet, gardeners will find many claims about the benefits of numerous plant health remedies. Sometimes, these methods are accompanied by words such as "alternative" and "natural." But how do we know which methods are backed up by science, and which are not?

A new episode of the UMN Extension horticulture podcast "What's Killing My Kale?" approaches this topic, using epsom salts and compost tea as examples. Extension Educators Annie Klodd and Natalie Hoidal interviewed Linda Chalker-Scott, host of the Informed Gardener podcast and Horticultural Myths blog.

In the interview, Chalker-Scott lays out ways that gardeners can determine whether online claims about natural products are accurate, effective, and appropriate for their gardens.

Linda Chalker-Scott is an Extension Educator at Washington State University and manages the Horticultural Myths b…

Making a Holiday Wreath? Avoid the 'killer vine' Oriental Bittersweet

It's the time of year when crafty folks are using greenery and plants from their own yard to make their own holiday wreaths. But here's an attractive plant you'll not only want to avoid, but make quick work to get rid of ASAP--called the "killer vine," the "Boa constrictor" of Minnesota plants, it's Oriental bittersweet (Celatrus orbiculatus).

Once again, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has pronounced Oriental bittersweet its November "Weed of the Month," and for good reason.  This invasive plant has caused property damage and altered ecosystems with its prolific seed production and aggressive growth.
Is this killer vine in my backyard? The Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports it was confirmed in the Twin Cities metropolitan area in 2010, and since then has been found in multiple counties.

A particularly severe  infestation was discovered in Red Wing and Winona in Southeastern Minnesota.  UMN Extension and Conservation Corp…