crape myrtle & hibiscus & poinsettia - Knowledgebase Question

saugus, Ma
Question by cgurski
August 8, 2008
Hi, I love crape myrtle trees but don't know if they are suitable for northeast, ma. Also have 2 beautiful hibiscus trees outside in containers. If I bring them inside over winter would they survive & what conditions would be best. Also i have 4 poinsettia plants that are still healthy & growing from last Dec. Have read that I need to do something in a month or 2 to promote flowers but not sure exactly what. Thank you for all the great information in your column.

Answer from NGA
August 8, 2008


Sadly, crape myrtles won't grow in MA. As for your hibiscus, when the nighttime temperatures cool down to about 50F, it's time to take your hibiscus indoors for the winter months. Inside, they will thrive in bright light so choose a south or west facing window and set them there. Allow the top inch of potting soil to dry out between waterings and they will remain healthy and happy until next spring when you can take them back outdoors again.

You can coax poinsettias to bloom during the holidays with a few simple steps. Poinsettias are short-day plants, meaning their bud set is affected by the length of daylight. To re-bloom, poinsettias need about 10 weeks with 12 hours or less of sunlight per day. You will have to artificially create these conditions and it?s crucial that you be diligent.

Beginning October 1st, keep your plant in complete darkness from 5 pm to 8 am. Any exposure to light will delay blooming. Use an opaque box or material to block out light. Many people place their plants in a closest, but if light gets in though the cracks or if you open and use the closet, it will affect the bud set.

Every morning move the plant back to the sunny window during the daytime and continue watering and fertilizing as usual. Cover it or move it to a dark closet every night.

Around the last week of November, you can stop the darkness treatment and allow the plant to remain in the window. You should see flower buds at this point.

Best wishes with your garden!

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