, Salem, MA


October 26, 2012

Where do all the chipmunks go?


A: Your amaryllis may not bloom until after the holidays this year, but you can give it a try.

You are doing the right thing by letting the leaves grow and mature and provide strength for next season, but most gardeners just put the whole pot out for the summer and do the same thing without transplanting to the garden. It is important to fertilize your amaryllis during the summer growth time. Let the plant stay right where it is in the garden until a light frost begins to turn the leaves yellow, then carefully dig up the bulb and put it in a pot with good soil — and begin a rest period: Put it in a cool, dimly lit place, give it no more water and let the leaves die back completely, at which time you can finally remove them. They’re certainly not pretty at this stage.

When growth resumes, return it to a sunny window and water thoroughly, soaking the whole pot. Add a fertilizer at half-strength, and you could have flowers in eight weeks or so. Add up the time — eight weeks’ rest, eight weeks’ growth, and that puts you well into January. I love to see my amaryllis blooming after the holidays, after all the red and green of Christmas has passed.

If you are intent on holiday blooms, next year, you can start the whole dying back/rest period earlier by withholding water earlier, like a week or two before Labor Day. As you did this past year, next year, keep the later developing foliage green and healthy after the flowers die — I think you will find leaving the bulb right in the same pot so easy that you won’t want to plant it in the garden!

This week’s dirt

Yesterday was the annual day of sorrow for gardeners in our part of the world — it marks the date of the average end of the growing season for the year.

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