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How to get a stubborn camellia to bloom
Question from Alyssa Walz: I have a camellia that has been planted for five years and has never bloomed. It gets a few buds on it, then a freeze causes them to fall off. This year I have dozens of buds. How can I protect it to make sure it gets through the winter and have it actually bloom this year?
Oh, man, you've got the wrong chameleon. Some comedians are harder than others, and some just can't take cold hardly at all. It freezes those little buds, you never get flowers. This could go on for years. The problem is, even if you wanted to move that chameleon to maybe a warmer spot or something, don't move well. So, I have got the solution!
I get a protective cover called Frost Protek from Charley’s Greenhouse. It’s got some cinch cords that you can tighten around the plant. You cover your camellia with it, and it's is supposed to raise the ambient temperature inside by 8 degrees. That should be enough to keep those little buds from freezing. Keep a close eye on your camellia and when you see the first bud start to open, take it off and for once you should be able to see a beautiful floral display on your camellia.
How to get your poinsettia to bloom in time for the holidays
Question from Margaret Trople: I still have my Christmas poinsettias. What should I do to have it bloom this winter?
Margaret, you're in luck. You couldn't have timed that better because poinsettias have to experience 14 hours of total darkness for a period usually starting in early October in order to bloom for the holidays. So, any way you can keep them in total darkness for 14 hours will work, but keep this in mind - if any light hits them at any time before buds form on the plant then that'll delay the blooming for about a year. If it's not too big, you can make something like a box to stick over it that keeps it total darkness, but I don't forget it’s there. You’ve got to put it out in direct sunlight every day in order for this to work.
Now, once they get the buds, you don't have to do it anymore. But if you've got a big poinsettia, you can't put it under a box. You're probably going to have to put it in a back closet or something like that. And remember this. The last time I did it last year my wife Mary said, “Don't you think you should put a sign on the door of the closet saying don't open this door, dim-dim.” I said, “Who's gonna open the door it's just you and me here.” Oh-la-la, I be the dim-dim! It's easy to forget! So, put up that sign, “Don't open the door, dim-dim!” and you’ll get to enjoy beautiful flowers on your poinsettia for the holidays.