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Keep Your Poinsettias Beautiful All Season with These Tips!

Wondering how to take care of your poinsettia plants this holiday season? These five poinsettia care tips for growing poinsettias indoors will help you keep your lovely Christmas flowers looking beautiful all season long.

5 Must Know Tips for Growing Poinsettias Indoors

Keep Your Poinsettias Beautiful All Season with These Tips!

What is a poinsettia?

Poinsettias are striking plants best known for their green and red foliage and the striking Christmas displays they’re used in. Indigenous to Guatemala and Mexico, the scientific name is euphorbia pulcherrima. 

Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous to people and only mildly toxic to dogs and cats.

Selective breeding means poinsettias now come in all kinds of beautiful colors, from deep reds to beautiful pinks and stunning whites. They are beautiful to use in all kinds of decor.

How to Take Care of Poinsettia Plants

I love poinsettias during Christmas time, but I have had a horrible track record of keeping them alive. If you’re wondering how to keep your own poinsettias alive during the winter months, you need these tips too!

Buy a healthy plant

You can probably tell if the plant is healthy just by looking at it. Choose a plant that has vibrant green leaves with no brown spots. You’ll want to get a plant with open flowers as poinsettias bloom very slowly. You’ll also want to make sure the flowers are bright and pretty looking.

Keep Your Poinsettias Beautiful with these 5 Must Know Tips

Don’t let it get cold during transport from store to house

Poinsettias are very susceptible to cold. If you buy a plant during cold weather, make sure you cover it with a bag before you take it outside to keep it from getting shocked. Also, it’s important that you don’t leave it in an unheated car. 

If you have a lot of errands to run, make sure you pick up the poinsettia last and take it straight home. It’s better for the plant to take the bag off as soon as possible.

Poinsettias make their debut around Thanksgiving and they prefer temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees. Higher nighttime temperatures will cause their leaves to turn yellow and fall off. Temperatures 55 degrees and under will also cause them to lose their leaves.

Watering and fertilizing a poinsettia

Over-watering is often the number one killer of poinsettias so make sure you let the soil dry to the touch between watering. When the soil feels dry, it’s time to water. Make sure to plant poinsettias in pots with draining holes! 

It’s important to allow the water to drain completely from the plant to prevent root rot. Check to the bottom of the dish and empty any excess water so your plants aren’t sitting in water for days on end. Poinsettias also like humidity, so if your house is dry, you might want to give them frequent mists of water.

Do not fertilize poinsettias while they’re blooming, but if you want to make them last between until the next year, you will have to fertilize after they’re done blooming. Any high quality all purpose fertilizer should be fine, but stop fertilizing while the flowers are blooming.

5 Must Know Tips for Growing Poinsettias Indoors

Poinsettias need bright light

Growing poinsettias indoors is not hard, but they need a lot of light. The best place to keep them is near a south facing sunny window. If you notice your poinsettia turning light green, you’ll want to move the plant to a spot that gets more light. It should also be kept relatively warm, with ideal temperatures in the 60-70 degree range.

Protect poinsettias from drafts in your home

Poinsettias are tropical plants and as such are very susceptible to cold drafts.  Make sure that no part of it touches a cold window. You’ll also want to keep it away from a furnace vent or a fireplace as well.

Want to try to save your poinsettias until next year?

If you’d like to try your hand at keeping your poinsettias alive for several years, here are a few tips:

Keep them alive by keeping them in a sunny location and continuing to water as described above. They’ll still need that humid environment they needed during the holidays. You’ll also need to fertilize them lightly in the spring and fall. Don’t be alarmed if they turn completely green during this time. 

To restore their holiday colors, they’ll need at least 14 hours of complete darkness at night for eight weeks before you want them to bloom. If you want blooming poinsettias at the end of November, that means they need 14 hours of complete darkness starting at the end of September. Read more about turning your  poinsettias red again here.

And that’s it! Follow these steps and you should have beautiful poinsettias until Valentine’s Day and maybe even beyond.

Grow Beautiful Poinsettias with these 5 Must Know Tips

If you follow these poinsettia care instructions each year, your flowers will shine at home! Now the big question is, what do you do with your beautiful flowers after the holidays?

If you liked this post on growing poinsettias indoors, you might like these posts too:

Start a Family Tradition by Cutting Down Christmas Tree at these Iowa Tree Farms

10 Healthier Christmas Cookie Recipes – Refined Sugar Free

Homemade Christmas Decorations made with Natural Items

DIY Christmas Gifts for the Entire Family

12 Best House Plants that are hard to kill

 

5 Must Know Tips for Transplanting Tomato Plants

Homegrown tomatoes are the best!! And it’s not that hard to grow them, but you can do a few things that make a big difference in growing successful tomatoes from the very beginning. To get your tomato seedlings off to the best possible start, you must know these five tips for transplanting tomatoes! It all starts with the transplanting.Must know tips for planting tomato seedlings

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! Today, you’re in for a treat. Not only do we have lots of great gardening tips to help you get your spring planting right, but we also have a few homemade gifts you can quickly put together, just in time for Mother’s Day! Make sure to read to the end of the post and check out all the great ideas from my dear gardening friends.

5 Must Know Tips for Transplanting Tomato Plants

Have you planted your tomatoes yet? It’s generally safe to plant them around your frost free date.  Our official frost free date (May 15) is right around the corner, but I always check the long range weather forecast before deciding when to tansplant my tomato plants. Fro the last three years, we have had a killing frost after May 15, so quite often, transplanting tomato plants has to wait. If you’re looking forward to transplanting tomato plants, too, make sure you read these must know tips!

pinch off bottom leaves
1 .Dig a deep hole and pinch off the tomato plants’ lower leaves.

I like to plant my tomatoes deep for a couple reasons. First, it’s super windy out here in the Iowa Prairie and planting them deeply gives them better support from the wind. It  allows roots to develop all along the tomato stem which helps make the plant stronger. So, dig a hole deep enough that only the top leaves will be showing on the ground. Pinching off the lower leaves also encourages roots to develop too, so carefully pinch off the leaves before you put the seedling in the hole.

Make sure to support the stem as you cover it with dirt. Be careful when you’re covering the plant with dirt so you don’t accidentally harm the little seedling. I like to support the stem with one had and fill the hole with dirt with the other hand. You don’t want to break the stem as you cover it – I’ve done it and it makes me very sad. Make sure you cover the seedling up to the top leaves.

2. Wondering how far apart to plant tomatoes?

Make sure you give your tomatoes enough space to grow.

  1. Dwarf tomato varieties only need to be about 1′ apart, with 2′ – 3′ between rows.
  2. If you’re staking your tomato plants, they’ll need about 2′ of separation to grow, with 2′ – 3′ between rows.
  3. Using large cages? They’ll need to be about 3′ apart, and probably 4′-5′ between rows.
  4. Want to let your tomatoes grow without support? You’ll need a lot of room! About 3-4′ between plants, and 4′-5′ between rows.

water the tomatoes after planting

3. Water tomato plants generously after planting.

Newly planted seedlings need a nice drink of water immediately after planting so make sure you water right away. I like to make an indent in the dirt around the plant so the water stays near the seedling instead of running away. You’ll want to continue watering for a few days if you don’t get a rain pretty quickly after planting.

mulch tomatoes

4. Mulch right away.

Since you’ve gone through the effort of planting tomatoes, just go ahead and mulch them right away. I’m often tempting to skip this step and get to it later, but I’ve found later sometimes never comes. Mulching right away is a great way to keep down the weeds and it also helps keep them moist. I used old hay we got for free in this picture, but a better mulch is straw because it’s weed free. My hay is very, very old, so I hope nothing will sprout from it. I could be wrong though, and end up seriously regretting the use of this old hay. I’ll let you know if that’s the case!

support tomatoes with homemade tomato cages

5. Add a support trellis or basket immediately.

Another key to tomato success,  is to add support right away. Tomatoes like to be supported and I know from experience that if I don’t support them right after planting, I won’t ever get back to it. Pretty soon I end up with a huge tomato jungle – and while I don’t think that’s a terrible thing, it does make picking the beautiful fruits more difficult and a lot of them end of smashed by my big feet. In years past, I used these homemade tomato baskets last year. They are easy to make and easy to use, but they take up a lot of space so you need a large growing area if you want to use homemade tomato baskets.

tomato trellis from moss mountain farm

This year I am hoping to use these homemade support systems I saw a Moss Mountain Farms. I love that this tomato system takes up less room than my huge cages and I think it’s awfully pretty too! Also, it’s a way to grow more tomatoes in less space since you don’t have to set the tomatoes so far apart. Do you have a favorite tomato trellis you like to use?

And that’s the start to a successful tomato season! Have you planted your tomatoes yet? I’d love to hear your ideas for success too. 

tuesdays in the garden

Tuesdays in the Garden

Want more garden tips from my friends from around the web. Make sure you click over to everyone’s posts and check out what’s going on in different parts of the country! We’ve got a couple homemade gift ideas that might be perfect for Mother’s Day this weekend, as well as growing tips too!

frugal family home

Shelly from Frugal Family Home is sharing a mini green house idea for small spaces!

hearth and vine

Patti from Hearth and Vine is sharing a cute DIY Gazing Ball – what a great gift is this?

an oregon cottageJami at An Oregon Cottage is sharing her homemade Salad Dressing Gift Basket

homemade food junkie

Diane from Homemade Food Junkie is sharing tips for growing strawberries in DIY towers

angie freckled rose

Angie the Freckled Rose is sharing tips for adding visual interest in your garden!

If you liked this post with tips for transplanting tomatoes, you might like these post too.

7 Methods of Natural Weed Control for a Weed-Free Garden

Companion plants you must have in your vegetable garden

How to grow a three sisters garden

How to kill cucumber beetles organically

How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks (of the feathered variety)

Ordering baby chicks through the mail is a lot of fun, but there are a few things you need to do ahead of time to get your chicks off to the best start. Here’s how to prepare for your mail order chicks so they get off to the best possible start!

How to prepare for mail order chicks

Many thanks to Hoover’s Hatchery for sending me chicks via the US mail to facilitate this post.

How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks (of the feathered variety)

There are several things you need to do to be ready for mail order chicks (feathered friends, of course). Because let’s be real. I’m not giving advice on any other type of mail order chicks. 😀

Make sure you have the right supplies

a box of baby chicks that has been mailed

Of course, it’s always better to have these items before your birds arrive – so write out your shopping list and go get them!

    • Brooder Box
    • Bedding
    • Heat Lamp with guard and bulb
    • Electrolytes & vitamins
    • Chick starter food
    • Feeding and water containers


Set up the Brooder Box

This can really be anything you want. I use a rectangular wooden box my husband actually built to be a dog bed. I like that it has higher sides to keep the chicks from jumping out for at least a few weeks. Your box needs to be big enough to give the chicks room to run around, keeping in mind that the chicks will grow quite quickly. My box is about 3 ft x 4 ft with 1 ft sides. It easily fits 25 chicks at a time, and I would have no qualms about housing a few more in there. I’ve also seen people use plastic tote boxes successfully but they work only for a smaller number of chicks.

You’ll need some sort of bedding for the brooder box.I use wood shavings that I get for free from a local cabinet building shop. Pine shavings are ok, but cedar shavings are toxic to chickens. You can use paper towels for the first day or so, but get some type of bedding very quickly for your chicks.

How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks (of the feathered variety) - put the water up

Prepare their food and water

I have found it helpful to lift it up the food and water off the brooder box floor an inch or two to keep bedding out of it. Little pieces of styrofoam work well. I left them like this so you can see better in the picture, but I hide them a better underneath the water container a bit better to keep them from pecking the styrofoam.

Food should be specially formulated for chicks and is called chick starter crumble or mash. Don’t feed baby chicks layer food for older chickens as the protein composition is not right for the babies. I feed my chickens an organic chick starter that I order from my local feed store and use a galvanized chick feeder.

box of 50 mailed baby chicks

For the first week or so, I make sure my chicks get vitamins and electrolytes in their water. I use Save-a-Chick Electrolyte and just mix a little packet in a gallon of water that I keep near the brooder for easy refills. The vitamins and electrolytes help them recover after their time in the mail and give them a healthy start

Set up a heat lamp and bulb

Chicks need to be kept in a very warm area until they are feathered out. When the chicks first arrive, the heat lamp should be quite close to them – hanging 5-6 inches from the box. A good heat lamp has a clamp for easier securing as well as a cage around it for safety reasons. A 250 watt, bulb, {red or white} is a good choice for chicken brooders.

The temperature should be around 90-95 degrees for the first week. As you watch your chicks, you’ll know when it’s time to raise the heat lamp as the chicks will start moving to the edge of the box and hanging out away from the heat source. I bought my supplies from the local farm store, but you can also order all of these supplies directly on Amazon and have them sent directly to your house.

How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks (of the feathered variety) early morning pickup

Prepare for an early morning pick-up

Since my phone is usually on silent, this really means I need to turn on my ringer so that I get the call! The chicks usually arrive at the post office first thing in the morning, so be prepared to get them before the post office even opens. My phone rang a little after 7 am and we left shortly thereafter. On arriving at the post office, we had to ring the bell on the locked door to pick up the chicks.

How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks (of the feathered variety) dunk the beaks

Encourage your chicks to drink water

They’ll be thirsty when they arrive. As soon as you get the chicks home, dunk each chick’s beak in the water prepared with the Save-A-Chick Electrolyte. This shows them where their water is and helps keep them from getting dehydrated.

How to Prepare for Mail Order Chicks (of the feathered variety) baby cornish cross meat bird

The last thing to be aware of is poopy butt! Read more about that here. Now sit back and watch your chicks. I dare you to get much else done the day they arrive. 

If you think you might like to order chicks, take a look at what Hoover’s Hatchery located in Rudd, Iowa, has to offer. They sell not only meat birds and egg layers, but also ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, bantams, and guinea keets! All of the birds I’ve received from them arrived in great condition and are growing well.

If you liked this post on preparing for mail order chicks, here are several more posts for you!

Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Chickens – care and feeding from day 1

How to Keep Your Chickens Warm in Winter

Why you might want to raise chickens for eggs

How to Kill the Colorado Potato Beetle, Organically

Are you wondering how to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle organically? If you have Colorado Potato Beetles on your potato plants, you will want to follow this advice to get rid of them before they decimate your potato crop!

The Colorado Potato Beetle – YUCK YUCK YUCK

colorado potato beetle*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

Left unchecked, the Colorado Potato Beetle can be deadly to your potato crop. They also like tomatoes and eggplants so watch for them there, too. Here are a few things I did to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle organically.

How to Kill the Colorado Potato Beetle Organically

I’m having a lot of trouble with bugs in my garden this year. So far, I’m battling the Cucumber Beetle, the Colorado Potato Beetle, and I’m also working on Squash Bugs and Japanese Beetles. It’s a bad, bad year for beetles. I really try hard to maintain organic methods in my garden. I don’t want to smell the chemicals, ingest the chemicals, or feed them to my kids. I also don’t want to kill all the good bugs that are working in my favor. Luckily, it doesn’t seem that hard to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle organically, provided you find them early and strike hard!

  • Mulch heavily
  • Kill them when they’re larvae
  • Plant potatoes as early as possible
  • Release beneficial insects
  • Make sure to rotate your crops

Mulch heavily to control Colorado potato beetle

First, I covered my potatoes with straw mulch – mulch encourages good bugs to move in – bugs that eat the Colorado Potato Beetle. Straw mulch is also good at covering the potatoes and helps to control moisture too!

Colorado potato beetle

Get ’em while they’re larvae

Next, I paid attention! I had never heard of the Colorado Potato Beetle until my friend told me that SOMETHING was eating her potatoes. Once she told me that, I took a long, slow walk through my potato plants and found the beetle larvae. I still have not seen an adult Colorado Potato Beetle, but for days I walked through my potatoes and killed every single larvae I could find.

colorado potato beetleSome were bigger, like the fatter larvae in the pictures above, and some were smaller – like this tiny one pictured here. To kill them, I handpicked them. Some, like this teeny one, I squished between a leaf.

ow to drown colorado potato beetles

Others, I drowned in a bucket of soapy water. Since I didn’t want to touch some of them, I just removed the entire leaf and dropped it all in the water. Then, I made sure to remove the leaf from the bucket, so they would be sure to drown. Aren’t they nasty looking?

Plant potatoes early in the season

Ideally, you want your potato plants as early as possible so that they bloom before June. If you do that, some damage from the beetles won’t be enough to impact the yield of your plants. In Zone 5, potatoes can generally be planted by mid April, sometimes even by late March if the ground can be worked. To speed up the planting, cover your ground with plastic to help it warm up.

Rotate your crops & add good bugs

Next year, I will rotate my potato crop at least 200 feet from its current location. I’m also thinking seriously about introducing some parasitic nematodes to my garden to help with bug control as well. I have read that they will help with all kinds of garden pests – cucumber beetles, Colorado beetles, and even Japanese beetles! I need these nematodes in my garden for sure.

Colorado potato beetles lay their eggs on the underneath of leaves. They are narrow and yellow and they make delicious ladybug food. So another prevention method is to release ladybugs in your garden!

I haven’t seen a Colorado Potato Beetle or Larvae in a couple of weeks. I am still patrolling daily with eagle eyes to make sure they stay away. I’m pleased that they seemed relatively easy to get rid of and thankful that my friend made me look for them. If they had matured and laid more eggs, I’m sure they would have been much harder to destroy. And who knows, next week, I may be singing a different song, but today, I am happy that I haven’t seen any evidence of these nasty bugs for many days!!


organic potatoes

And look what I harvested from my garden today! Oh yum! I’m looking forward to fried potatoes tonight!

For a more in depth discussion of the Colorado Potato Beetle, head over to the Vegetable Gardener’s website. They discuss other fun methods for destroying this nasty pest.

Fro more gardening and homesteading posts, start here:

The Easiest Way to Grow Potatoes –  No-Dig Method

How to Kill Cucumber Beetles Organically

Where to Find Free Mulch

Companion Plants You Need in Your Garden

Gardening for Beginners Made Easy

Have you dealt with Colorado Potato Beetles? What did you do to kill them?