Published Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Consumer Qs: Can poinsettias be planted outdoors?

From Special Reports

closeup@newnan.com

Consumer Q’s is prepared by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, Commissioner.

Q: Can I plant my poinsettia outdoors after Christmas?

A: Poinsettias cannot tolerate frosts and freezes. Adventurous gardeners in the warmest parts of Georgia may try planting a poinsettia outdoors in a protected spot, but even they should wait until spring as their indoor poinsettia is not acclimated to go from the warmth of indoors to the colder temperatures outside. For most people, poinsettias are best added to the compost pile after they finish blooming.

* * *

Q: How can I tell when to repot a houseplant?

A: One of the first signs that a plant should be moved to a larger container is frequent wilting due to rapid drying of the soil. To determine if a plant needs repotting, turn the plant out of the pot and look at the soil ball. If a thick mat of roots is present on the outside of the soil ball, the plant usually benefits from repotting.

* * *

Q: I need information about the new tax-exemption program for farmers. Can you help me?

A: Please visit our website at www.agr.georgia.gov or call us at 1-855-FARMTAX (327-6829).

The new GATE (Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption) program was created by Georgia HB386, a law passed by the Georgia Legislature, which offers qualified agriculture producers a sales tax exemption on agricultural equipment and production inputs. This program will replace the Agricultural Certificate of Exemption (ST-A1) form, effective January 1, 2013. The old certificate of exemption will not be valid after Jan. 1, so farmers are encouraged to sign up for the new program as soon as possible.

* * *

Q: I want to grow herbs on my kitchen windowsill. Do you have any suggestions?

A: If you want to try to grow herbs indoors, put them in the sunniest window in your house whether it is in your kitchen or not. A south-facing window is best.

Many of the herb-growing kits sold at Christmas have pots that are too small to adequately grow anything but a few seedlings. Your pots should be at least five or six inches deep and wide. They should also have one or more drainage holes at the bottom.

A few herbs you may want to try are basil, thyme, oregano, poliomintha (Mexican oregano), chives and parsley.

In Georgia we can grow many herbs outdoors, even in the winter. While a kitchen herb garden sounds clever, it is usually less productive and practical than growing herbs outdoors, at least as far as cold-hardy herbs are concerned. Consult your local nursery or garden center for more tips and supplies including plants and seeds.

If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov, write to the department at 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 128, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail Arty Schronce at arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov .

© 2011 The Newnan Times-Herald Inc., Newnan, Georgia. Any unauthorized use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.