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Archive for January, 2013

It’s true.  It was gorgeous while it lasted and you’ve heard it’s possible to re-bloom it.  Unlike those colorful poinsettias, which should probably be tossed after their show is done, the amaryllis gets better every year!  Of course, you have to know how to treat it in order to accomplish that task.amaryllis

imagesAn Amaryllis is one of the most beautiful flowers we can bring into our homes, so it is usually worth the effort to bring it back even bigger and more beautiful next year.  BUT, it has to be done right.  Let’s give it a try.  Here are some directions that may help.  They are pretty much a calendar of events to which you need to pay attention.

You have enjoyed the blooms and they are now fading.  What should you do right now?

  • Remove the fading flower stem to just above the bulb.  This is necessary since you do NOT want those blooms to attempt to produce seeds!  (Do not remove the leaves, which look like “straps”.)
  • Place your amaryllis plant in a sunny window for several months, keeping it moist and fertilized for that duration.  The “strap” type leaves will continue to nourish the bulb.  (Just like a daffodil needs it’s leaves to produce good bloom the next year, the same principle applies to the amaryllis bulb.)  Treat it just like any other indoor plant at this point.
  • In order to  get that amaryllis to bloom they MUST go through a rest period.  In late September, early October begin to withhold water and place the plant in a dark location.  Even a closet or your storage area would provide a good spot.
  • Cut off the leaves when they turn brown or whither.  (about 8-10 weeks)
  • In late November or early December,  move the plant to a warm location and begin to water it.  Again, keep it moist, NOT wet!H_'GreenGoddess'

OR, maybe you got a bulb  at Trader Joe’s (or somewhere) that is needing to be potted?  If you need to pot an Amaryllis, here are a few instructions about how to do that.  (Generally this would have happened in the early fall, not mid-winter.  If you got it in mid-winter, follow the instructions given above.

  • Pick a pot that is one to two inches larger in diameter than the broadest section of the bulb.  Potted bulbs thrive in a slightly rootbound condition, so better smaller, than larger.  Either plastic or clay pots work just fine.
  • This pot should be heavy enough to support the amaryllis as it grows tall and top-heavy.  This can also be accomplished by placing some gravel in the bottom of the pot as you plant the bulb.
  • Use commercial, sterilized potting soil which will drain well.  Perhaps having some perlite as part of the soil.
  • about 1/2 to 2/3 of the bulb should be above the soil to induce early flowering.
  • Water the potting medium thoroughly and then place the plant in a cool, bright location.  No more water should be necessary until the bulb begins to produce a sprout.  If there is any dry foliage left at this point, it should definitely be removed!

Just a note, sometimes bulb and root rot problems happen when the soil is too wet, or by planting soft bulbs.  I always think about an onion.  When an onion has a soft spot, that’s not good.  The same applies to any bulb, including the amaryllis.  If there are soft spots, or you have any thought that your bulb might be diseased, throw it away.  It’s not worth trying to bring along a diseased bulb.  They are not that expensive.  Buy a new one!

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ficus-25761284867613k4w3Ficus is a VERY popular house plant.  There are more than 800 different plants that are part of this genus.  What that means is that my comments here are reasonably limited!  🙂
A ficus is really a fig tree.  Here is a website that will give you the entire background of fig trees.  You will probably find out more than you ever needed to know, but it IS interesting!http://web.extension.illinois.edu/dmp/palette/070304.html
As far as taking care of the Ficus, there are some things to remember.
•    Size-Don’t buy a full grown plant.  They grow quickly, so it would be cheaper, and more fun, to buy it small and watch it grow into the large plant you want in that sunny corner of your room.  They will grow quite rapidly provided they get enough light.  If there is less light, your plant may slow it’s growth and become spindly and pale.  If it is variegated, it may lose it’s variegation, as will other plants grown in poor light.
•    Disease-They are reasonably disease free, so should not give you too many things to worry about.  However, sometimes even the best of plants succumb to some nasty bug, or mold or scale…even your ficus!  Should this happen to you, here is a web site that does an excellent job of explaining, and SHOWING the problem and how to deal with it!  http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/GARDEN/PLANTS/ficus.html
•    Watering-Remember that watering is important.  If the growth slows due to poor light, it will need less fertilization.  Notice that there is a connection between light, growth and watering.  You should water the ficus thoroughly.  Be sure the water drains right through the bottom of the pot.  After a few minutes, you can remove the excess water, because they shouldn’t be sitting in water.  You can remove it with an old sponge or paper towels.  As with other plants, it is good to use warm or room temperature water so as not to shock the roots.
•    Fertilizing-When your ficus is producing new leaves and really booming along, you can fertilize it once a month or so.  Only use half of the recommended amount.  As growth slows down in the autumn, stop fertilizing until spring.
•    Light-When you think about light, think about your own requirement for reading.  If you can read in the light, it’s good enough for the plant.  If you can’t read in that light comfortably, you plant won’t thrive there either.  (If you really have poor light, think about getting yourself plants in the Chinese Evergreen group.)
•    Pruning-Without grooming/pruning your ficus may grow much larger than you’d like!  It is a tree after all, so prune it just as you would any tree.  You should be sure to make that cut just above a node (where the leaf is attached to the stem, or where another stem branches off.)  Do NOT leave any “stubs”!  They are unsightly and non-productive.  The plant will bleed when cut, which will be a bit messy.  Some people are allergic to the sap.  It might be good to wear rubber gloves while engaging in this process.  The bleeding will NOT hurt the plant, so don’t worry about it.
•    Repotting– Don’t!  Instead, keep it to the appropriate size by pruning and grooming.

I also found a link that answers a TON of questions.  You can go there and see if your question is answered.  You’ll learn a lot just reading the questions and answers!  http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/hortiscope/tree/ficus.htm

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