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January 30, 2016


I moved from Illinois and have been here for eight years. I miss the dirt up north. My yard here is rock filled and difficult to dig holes. Every year I buy perennials and annuals and put them in my front yard with Southern exposure and they proceed to expire. I have luck with trees I plant but not much else.  Please help.  I'm tired of throwing my money away and not having my plants to show for it. 



Remember that the foundation to the garden is the soil that the plants have to grow in.  Some Arkansans are blessed with deep, rich soil, but many of us have our fair share of rocks.  A rocky soil is not a great environment for plant growth.  Amending the soil, building raised beds or a combination approach should give you more success.  I would also suggest testing the drainage of the beds you have.  Dig a hole about the depth you would plant in, then fill it with water until the water stands.  In a well-drained soil the water level should go down an inch per hour.  If the water gushes out to fast, then it is hard to keep the plants watered in a dry summer, and if it stands for days, the plants are swimming when it rains.  Both scenarios are not ideal for plant growth.  Raised beds help here as well, since you bring in the media you want to grow in and you can manage water issues better.


(October 2012)

QuestionI have a four foot tall poinsettia “tree” that is left over from last Christmas. I have just moved it back inside. Tell me what to do to make it turn red for the holidays.


AnswerThis is a common question, and while some people have had success in getting their poinsettia to turn colors, unless you have a greenhouse or a sunroom, the results are usually not as good as buying a new plant each year, but you can give it a try. The poinsettia needs full sun during the day, and total darkness at night—not a room light hitting it. After a couple of months of this short bright days and long dark nights, the leaves at the tip of the branches should begin to turn. The true flower of a poinsettia is small, non-descript yellow blossoms in the center of a group of colorful modified leaves called bracts. I think it is an awful lot of work, when you can buy such nice high quality plants every year. My suggestion is to grow it as a houseplant in a spare bedroom and if you get good color, enjoy it.


(March 2010)

QuestionIn December of 2008 I received a poinsettia and kept it alive through the winter and the summer of 2009. It flourished and made a beautiful plant. I forced it to bloom for Christmas of 2009 and had 12 or 13 beautiful blooms for the rest of the year. It is still growing and starting to put on new leaves. I know these plants are not really the type to cultivate and keep in this manner but it is kind of a project to see if I can get it bushed out and get it to bloom again for next Christmas. The plant is getting leggy and I would like to know if it can be trimmed back and made to bush out again without killing it.


AnswerWait until you move it outside for the summer and then prune it back by one third to one half. It will thrive outdoors and get nice and full. Fertilize and water all summer and it should do well. Then move it back inside in September and begin your re-blooming process again.


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