What to do with those spent holiday plants

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 28, 2012

SALISBURY — Recent rains have provided needed moisture for our lawns and landscapes. Even though cold winter weather is still an acute possibility, homeowners are contemplating productive vegetable and beautiful flower gardens this spring. Below are a few questions I have received over the past few weeks.
Q: Can I keep my poinsettia until next year? I really hate to discard them after the Christmas season.
A: Poinsettias can be grown as a houseplant during the winter months and moved outdoors when the threat of frost is gone. The plant will need constant pinching and care during the summer months. Move the plant indoors in September under natural light. Keeping a poinsettia for next year’s Christmas season can be done, but it will take a dedicated gardener. Many enjoy the challenge while others stimulate the economy by buying the holiday plant each year.
Q: When is the best time to apply dormant oils or sprays to my fruit trees?
A: Apply any time during the winter as long as the temperature is above 40 degrees and under 65 degrees. Do not apply when the fruit blossoms are showing color.
Q: I have a group of pecan trees and only two of the trees do well. The other two never bear fruit. What can I do to make the trees bear?
A: The trees may be seedlings. Only grafted cultivars are recommended for planting for a reliable crop. Many seedling trees bear poorly and have small nuts.
Q: What can I do with my Christmas tree after the holidays? Is there a place I can take the tree?
A: Rowan County’s Department of Environmental Management offers free Christmas tree collection/disposal at the Julian Road Solid Waste and Recycling convenience center Monday, Jan. 2 through Saturday, Jan. 26. The Julian Road Solid Waste Recycling Center is located at 1455 Julian Road. The hours of operation are Monday-Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Contact Caleb Sinclair at 704-216-8606 for more information.
Q: Are you having a Master Gardener Volunteer class this spring?
A: No, Cooperative Extension has plenty of volunteers for its programming efforts at this time. Also, two staff vacancies play a major role in dictating agricultural responsibilities.
Q: Our white hellebores in full bloom. Is this common?
A: There are more than 20 species of hellebores that will grow in our area. According to landscape specialists from Clemson University, the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) will flower around Christmas in well protected areas; however, it normally flowers in late winter to early spring. Go to http://virtual.clemson.edu/groups/hort/sctop/tmitg/scnawntr/scnawntr.php for more detailed information.

Darrell Blackwelder is Extension Director for Rowan County N.C. Cooperative Extension. Call 704-216-8970.