Q. I have a cyclamen lots of blooms on it, saw it and couldn't resist buying it. They were vague in telling me how to take care of it. Can you please let me know quickly?
A. The cyclamen is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of house plants. According to Dr. Richard E. Wildmer, professor of floriculture. University of Minnesota, a night temperature of 60 degreets (or a little higher) with days around 68 to 70 degrees will keep the plants in good shape for at least a month without much leaf yellowing or bud loss.
Major requirements are good light even direct sun in winter is fine if soil is moist) and never allowing the plant to wilt for lack of soil moisture.
Leaves will yellow and flower buds abort 24 to 36 hours after wilting, even in a greenhouse, so don't let the soil dry out. Another key point is lack of nutrients. The plants must have a nutrient supply available in the soil or leaves will yellow and the plant will decline rapidly. (It may be a good idea to give the plant a bit of soluble fertilizer - such as hyponex - dissolved in water every week.)
It used to be that a 50-degree night temperature was considered necessary, says Widmer. We are now growing this plant commercially at higher temperatures than in the past. Also, new cultivars appear to be adaptable to the home environment.
Q. Can poinsettia blooms can be used in flower arrangements, funeral pieces, table centerpieces, mantle-piece arrangements and other table decorations and will last longer than many cut flowers according to Dr. Peter B. Pfahl. professor of floriculture, Penn State University.
When used with greens they will last 14 days at room temperature after being cut if the leaves are removed.
Whether the flowers are placed in tap water, warm water, boiling water or singed over a flame (to get rid of the milky substance from the stem), they will last longer if the leaves are removed.
If the leaves are necessary and form an integral part of the design it is best to place the cut stem in warm water (70 to 90 degree F.) or singe it over a flame. Stems placed in boiling water for 30 seconds will not hold up beyond 5 days with the leaves attached.
Essentially there are four treatments to prepare cut poinsettias for arrangements, to keep them in good condition for 14 days after cutting, say Phahl (1) cool tap water with all leaves: (2) warm water, 70 to 90 degrees F. with all leaves attached: (3) warm water 70 to 90 degrees with all leaves removed and (4) singe with flame with all leaves removed.
Q. How soon do I have to remove the snow from azaleas and other shrubs.
A. It is best to do it as soon as possible after it stops snowing. Snow can turn to ice and ice acts as a magnifying glass. It concentrates the sun's rays on needles or leaves and seorching occurs and brown or dead patches appear in the spring. Remove snow and ice by gently liting branches and shaking off the accumultation with a broom or large brush.
Q. Can the ashes from our fireplace be used in the garden?
A. They have a certain value but it is limited. If they are to be used, they should be collected and stored in a dry place. If they are piled outdoors and exposed to the weather, they will lose much of the already low nutrient value due to leaching.