This week’s plant pick definitely gives one of the best holiday and winter ‘flowering’ shows of all the holiday plants. And, it makes a great Christmas gift for anyone. It’s Amaryllis, and let me tell you, there are so many wonderful colorful selections on the market today, it’s crazy! Grow them in a pot for colorful flowers for the holidays or colors during the winter. And if you live in Zone 8 or further south, you grow them in the ground! And if you need a Christmas gift that makes everyone happy (later on), give an Amaryllis Bulb Kit. Note: When buying Amaryllis bulbs, the larger the bulb, the more flowers you will get. So you’ll find smaller bulbs that are less expensive, and the more expensive are older, larger, and produce more flowers.
A Holiday favorite, Amaryllis is one of the easiest bulbs to bring into flower, not only for the Holidays, but to help brighten those dreary winter days. Here’s how you can be successful with your Amaryllis bulbs…
Starting Your Amaryllis
-Plant your Amaryllis bulb in a 6 or 8 inch pot that has drainage holes. Use a soil-less potting mix, and bury the bulb up to its neck. Water well, and place the potted bulb in a bright, warm place. (No direct sunlight) -Water (use luke warm water) sparingly until the bulb produces a stem, then increase watering as needed. In general it takes 6-8 weeks for the bulb to flower. -The best temperatures for your Amaryllis are 65 to 70 degrees during the day, and a bit cooler at night to help extend the length of bloom. In some cases, flower stalks may need to be staked to prevent falling over.
Care After Flowering
-After the flowers have finished, cut the flower stalk back to the top of the bulb, leaving any foliage that has appeared. Continue to water and lightly feed (monthly) through the winter and early spring.
-Once the danger of frost has past, place the potted bulb outdoors in a partly sunny location to continue to grow and feed the bulb all summer long. Water as needed - feed monthly. Miracle Gro is a great fertilizer for these bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs are heavy feeders!
Getting Your Amaryllis to Flower Again
-Around September 1st (earlier if you want earlier re-flowering), stop watering the bulb. The leaves will yellow and begin to dry up. Remove the dead foliage, bring the bulb inside, and store in a cool dark place for a minimum of 6 -8 weeks. (50 degrees) Do not water. -6-8 weeks before you want flowers, bring the bulb back out, begin to water (lightly at first, until stems begin to appear), and then start the cycle all over again. -Bulbs that do not re-flower typically did not store enough food during the growing season, were stored too warm or too cold, or not given enough dormancy period. -Plant Amaryllis bulbs at different times to have flowering periods that will last all winter long. Remember, the larger the bulb, the more flower stems it will produce.
As I look around the landscapes this week, every here and there I see an ‘evergreen’ tree with its needles turning a wonderful red-bronze color. Wait…did I say evergreen? Okay, I confess. It’s really a deciduous conifer, Metasequoia glyptostroboides, or commonly known as Dawn Redwood. Yep, a redwood, and redwoods have been around for over 50 million years. Dawn redwood has lime green fern like foliage in the spring, deep green in summer, and bronze-red in the fall…then the needles fall off! Perfect for a large tree in the landscape, a specimen or street tree. Tolerates clay soil, wet soil and air pollution, and isn’t eaten by the deer. This tree is way underused in the landscapes.