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Why you’ve been in the dark about making your poinsettia bloom again

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So you want to keep that poinsettia alive and blooming for next year’s holiday season?

 It’s an uphill battle, but it can be done.  

“With the right care, poinsettias can stay alive for many years. The trick is to get them to bloom again,” said Anita McDonald, partner at Kuhlmann’s Greenhouse in Edmonton.

The key bloom period for poinsettia starts in late September and peaks in January.

McDonald explains the red parts of the plant that look like flower petals are in fact a variation of leaf called bracts, and the yellow bits in the middle are flowering buds. Keeping your poinsettia alive requires the acceptance that the bracts won’t last all year. 

“The bracts that you have on your plant right now should last another month or two,” says McDonald. “Then you probably want to look at pruning your plant.”

McDonald suggests cutting the stems back in March to about a third of the length.

“This will start to create lots of new growth through when our days get longer,” she said, adding that water about once a week is all the plant needs during the winter months.

Darkness is the key

There’s one counterintuitive step that most people miss when trying to encourage their poinsettias to bloom again — keeping the plant in the dark. 

“They need at least 12 hours of darkness a day,” McDonald said. “They say even a streetlight outside your window can be too much light.”

Jim Hole owns Hole’s Greenhouse and Gardens in St Albert, which produces about 50,000 poinsettias each year. He said growers need to make sure that poinsettias are getting more darkness than daylight during the bloom cycle. 

They need 12 hours of darkness a day.– Anita McDonald, partner at Kuhlmann’s Greenhouse

“You can put them in the closet at night to ensure you have uninterrupted darkness, but then it’s critical to get them out into the light so they can keep producing growth and they can absorb sunlight and grow properly,” Hole said.

Gardening experts suggest leaving poinsettias in a closet between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. from late September to early December.

Locally grown

The poinsettia, Latin name Euphorbia pulcherrima, is native to Mexico and parts of Central America, growing best in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 8 – 11

Mexico and Alberta are in disparate plant hardiness zones, making poinsettia care difficult in Alberta. (United States Department of Agriculture)

In the home, both McDonald and Hole recommend keeping the plant away from hot and cold drafts.

“Poinsettias like it fairly warm and like humidity,” said McDonald. “Keep them away from heat registers that may be blowing dry air.”

As for water, McDonald says it’s important to keep the soil moist but not saturated.

If you have to move the plant to another building, wrap it up from the cold in a layer of paper then plastic.

Dangerous for pets?

While poinsettias are cited as a plant that is dangerous to pets, Sherwood Park veterinarian Dr. Louis Kwantes said poinsettia poisoning is not a major concern.

“They do cause irritation, you may see some hypersalivation or maybe even a little bit of vomiting or some gastrointestinal upset,” said Kwantes.

At this time of year, Kwantes says mistletoe and daylilies are more toxic to pets than poinsettias.

“Obviously, keep your pets away from [poinsettias] but by and large if they do get into it, unless there’s an underlying disease or problem going on, there shouldn’t be a big issue,” he said.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

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