Q: Can you tell me how we can keep our poinsettia plants alive after the holidays?


Answer: Poinsettias from Christmas can last a long time with proper care, according to an article on N.C. State University’s Cooperative Extension Service website.

“Horticulturists have done an excellent job of breeding new poinsettia varieties with long-lasting qualities,” according to the site. Here are their tips, along with some from the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension office:

  • Place the poinsettia in the sunniest portion of the room.
  • Avoid cold drafts from doorways or excess heat from TV sets, radiators or heating ducts.
  • Water the plant thoroughly when needed, and make sure a small amount of the water drips through the drainage holes of the container. About 10 percent of the water you apply should drip through to take out excess salt from the fertilizer in the soil.
  • If the poinsettia came wrapped in decorative foil, you will need to punch holes in the foil to allow excess water to escape. Place the plant on a saucer to prevent damage to the furniture, but you should water it over a sink or tub and then put it back in the saucer.
  • To retain a bright color, keep your poinsettia at temperatures not lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit and not greater than 70 degrees.
  • To keep poinsettias for a long time, fertilize them with a dilute fertilizer solution several times a month. When you are looking to move the plant outside in the late spring (after the risk of frost has passed), you shouldn’t put it in the full sun. Instead, first put it somewhere where it is catching partial sunlight to allow it to acclimate, and work it up gradually to full sun before re-potting it to a larger container.

You may want to contact the Cooperative Extension in early to mid-October next year for advice on how best to prepare the plant to bring it back inside for the holidays.

Q: I have been told by my irrigation contractor that the residential irrigation backflow preventers must be tested annually and certified by the city or state. Is this a new law or regulation that must be complied with, and what are the consequences of not complying?


Answer: According to Gale Ketteler, public information officer with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities, the requirement for annual testing of backflow preventers, including residential irrigation systems, was adopted by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission as an ordinance in 1996 and can be found in the City of Winston-Salem Water and Sewerage System Policy Resolutions, section 53, part (d)(9) Regulations.

“Compliance enforcement became effective July 1, 2019 with new N.C. regulations concerning backflow prevention requirements to include annual testing and maintenance of all backflow prevention devices,” Ketteler said. “Potential consequences for non-compliance include a penalty of up to $500 and termination of water service of the affected service connection, per the Water System Policy.”

More Restaurants

On Tuesday, SAM plans to run a list of restaurants that will be open on New Years Day. Owners or managers can contact us at asksam@wsjournal.com to be included in that list.

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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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