Getting rid of gnats in poinsettia

GARDEN Q & A

December 23, 2006|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to The Sun

The first time I watered my poinsettias a little black fly flew out. Should I be concerned?

Fungus gnats often enter the home on new plants. Their larvae feed on organic material in potting soil, but also feed on roots. To break their life cycle, allow the poinsettias' potting soil to dry to a depth of about 1/2 inch in between waterings. Now that a gnat is loose in your house, follow this rule for all your other houseplants, too, so its eggs cannot hatch in another pot.

I found a bag of old flour, and I'm afraid to use it for holiday baking. Can I put it in my compost pile?

Certainly -- it's organic. You might want to spread it around somewhat, so it doesn't become a mass of glue when it dampens, but it will decompose regardless.

Checklist

Never allow the reservoir of your Christmas tree stand to dry out. The tree may not be able to reabsorb water. Check water levels daily. Trees will drink up to 1 gallon of water each day.

Looking for that last-minute holiday gift? Buy a gift certificate from a local nursery or garden center, or from a mail-order seed or garden-supply catalog.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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