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    I post this article as it has managed to talk about imports in a positive way.


    Q. I brought in my bougainvillea at the beginning of November, as it had begun dropping its leaves. It looks dead now, but when I snap off a woody branch, it is green inside. Also, something was eating the edges of the leaves and now is eating the edges of my pansies. What is it? Should I water it or fertilize now that it is inside in the sun? – G. Atkinson, Norfolk

    A. Being tropical, Bougainvillea wants to be dormant over the winter. On top of that, it is sensitive to cold temperatures. I don’t know exactly when you got your plant indoors, but we did have some temperatures into the 40s the last week in October. And then, Nov. 10-12 had temperatures into the 30s. So, your leaf drop could be associated with low temperatures.

    Other conditions that may result in leaf drop during the growing season would include too little or too much water and low light. It is practically impossible for you to duplicate indoors the high light that the plant likes, so as discussed last week, leaf drop would be inevitable.

    So, the good news is that your plant is not dead. Your plant knows that it’s winter, so your best bet is to just let it do its thing and rest until late spring. Put it in the garage or somewhere where temperatures do not get below the mid-40s. It does not need light. Let it get quite dry before watering it thoroughly again. Remember, you are trying to let it rest.

    In late spring, bring it out, prune and fertilize, and you are back in business. Check out the root system by gently tapping the plant out of the pot when dry. Bougainvillea likes to be a little pot-bound, but if necessary, step it up only into the next size pot.

    As far as the bugs go, I would guess caterpillars, but they should not be an issue now for either your bougainvillea or pansies.

    term of the week

    Dormant – a period of rest in a plant’s life cycle characterized by minimized metabolic activity. The pause in growth and development helps conserve energy and enables the plant to withstand adverse conditions. It is triggered by and coordinated with environmental conditions.

    did you know?

    In the late 1960s, a graduate student at Colorado State University wrote a research paper about the feasibility of producing cut flowers in the South American nation of Colombia.

    Near the equator, Colombia offered the ideal climate – mild, with little variation in light/temperature – and constant 12-hour days. No need for expensive greenhouses with heating and cooling. The low cost of labor and close proximity to Miami and eastern markets offset air transportation. Colombia offered an attractive alternative to domestic cuts produced primarily in California and Colorado.

    After graduation, with a couple of partners and $75,000 in seed money, the young entrepreneur founded Floriamerica and began shipping cuts to the United States. Within the next five years, there were at least 10 more companies around Bogota exporting flowers. In 1971, U.S. growers produced 1.2 billion blooms and imported 100 million. By 2003, the U.S. imported 2 billion, while exporting only 200 million. In less than 10 years, U.S. producers of cut flowers essentially disappeared. Today, Colombia commands 70 percent of the U.S. market.

    And just to the south, Ecuador, the world’s largest exporter of bananas, decided to get a piece of the action. Enjoying the same advantages, it has quietly become the world’s third largest exporter of cut flowers, 73 percent of which are roses. If you’ve purchased roses lately, there is a good chance they came from Ecuador.

    The flower industry in Ecuador now employs well over 150,000 people, many of whom are women. The industry is responsible for helping to reduce extreme poverty, significantly improving the standard of living and providing the opportunity to earn a living wage. Ecuador now leads the world in the number of social-environmental certifications for flower growers, which ensures environmentally friendly practices and fair treatment of workers.

    Send questions to or to Home + Living c/o The Virginian-Pilot, 150 W. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, VA 23510.

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