Thursday, November 12, 2009

Healthy Roots

Healthy roots are important to a healthy poinsettia. Without a good fertilizer and watering program, the poinsettias can have poor root structure. Poinsettias are a sensitive plant to root problems from over watering or from high and low pH.
We monitor the poinsettias multiple times a day to see how dry they are. We let them dry nearly to the point of wilting before we water them. Keeping the poinsettias wet all the time produces poor roots. We water them three cycles (about 8 minutes a cycle, thirty minutes apart for a 6½“ poinsettia) every time we water them. Some weeks we might water them 3 times and some weeks we might water them only 1 time. The amount of cloudy vs. sunny weather we have plays a huge role in how much water the need.
We try to keep a check on the pH of the plants once a month also. We use 20-10-20 liquid fertilizer on regular watering and occasionally use a mix of calcium nitrate and potassium nitrate to bring the pH down when it starts to climb. Poinsettia need to have soil between 5.8 to 6.5 pH. High pH can cause iron deficiency. Too much calcium with low pH can cause problems too.
We even pull our plants out of the pots to see how the roots are doing. I wouldn’t do this in a store though. You will make a mess with the soil on the floor, and can break or bruise the poinsettia if you are not careful. Healthy roots come to the outside of the pot, and should be white in color.

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