Encourage reluctant amaryllis to bloom

Encourage reluctant amaryllis to bloom

Q: I have amaryllis in pots and have tried unsuccessfully to get it to bloom during the holidays. They all sprout prolific leaves and look healthy but no flowers. Are they just old people?Marilyn Fellows, email

a: I think the bulbs don’t get enough solar energy during the year to create blooms. Amaryllis can handle almost full sun. Instead of trying to get Christmas blooms, let your bulbs grow outside all summer in pots and bring them inside after the first light frost. Remove the leaves and store the pots for the winter in a dark place without water. Bring them outside when it is warm enough to do so in April. Give them water and fertilizer. If they are happy, they will bloom in May. If they don’t flower, I will continue the outdoor/indoor/outdoor cycle until they do.

Q: I pruned some fairly large limbs from a huge oak tree a few days ago. Today almost every piece “cries” hard. Should I draw the wounds?(Alan Hudson, Henry County).

a: There is no harm at all. The tree’s roots are now working forcefully to push sap into the crown. The bleeding will stop within a few days. There is no need to paint the wound.

Q: I have been amending my lawn with compost for over 10 years. Soil tests each year show that P, K, Mg, Ca and Zn are all in the excellent range. My problem is that I can’t get the pH below 7.0. I want to lower it in the 6.0 – 6.5 range but nothing I added seems to work.Bob Parsons, email

a: I think you are overreacting to your soil pH level. It’s true that garden plants grow best at a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, but most can easily tolerate a pH of 7.0. At this point, I think it would be a good idea to switch to no-till gardening. It sounds like your garden soil contains a lot of organic matter. If so, you need to allow soil fungi to continue creating their tiny, oxygen-filled pores in the soil, which plants love. Tilling destroys this wonderful soil structure. Plant seedlings or vegetable seeds in small holes that you dig in the soil without causing significant soil disturbance.

Q: The community landscaping crew used a hedge trimmer to cut back about a third of the newly planted, healthy azalea plants. I assume spring blooms won’t happen but I wonder if they will survive this carnage?Roger Klask, Canton

a: If they were healthy when they were pruned, I have no doubt they would survive. Although you will typically miss the heavier spring blooms, Encore azaleas will have several flushes of blooms between spring and fall. As the weather warms, new shoots will cover the bare stems left over from pruning.

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