Growing more amaryllis from seed takes time and effort – Orlando Sentinel

Growing more amaryllis from seed takes time and effort – Orlando Sentinel

a question. My amaryllis are blooming and forming seed heads. Should I cut it or let the seeds form?

Answer. Decide whether or not you want to grow more amaryllis. These heads are filled with wafer-shaped seed-bearing parts. Many of them can germinate and produce plants that take about three years to flower. If you want to grow more, scatter the seeds on a tray of soil and cover them gently. Keep them moist, and they should sprout in about two weeks. Time is then spent transplanting the young seedlings and growing them to form flowering bulbs. If you don’t want this experiment, cut off the seed head that forms stems down between the foliage and let the energy go into creating larger bulbs.

When grown outdoors in Florida, amaryllis typically flower in the spring before leaves develop.

s. A friend gave me some Eucalyptus lily bulbs that are supposed to flower over the winter. Where are these best grown?

a. Share a stem of this plant with friends, and they might think you’re growing daffodils. But what blooms sometime between December and February is the Eucharist lily or Amazon lily. The flowers are large, pure white, many on a stalk. This plant wants slightly filtered sun shade to be successful. Plants turn yellow and slow down when exposed to too much sunlight. As the bulbs multiply, the bed expands, and more flowers are produced each year. One added feature is the large leaves that resemble hosta leaves. The leaves are dark green and are present all year round.

s. This year has not been the best for Brussels sprouts. The buds we harvested were usually small in size and had a very bitter taste. What happened?

a. Blame the unusually warm to hot winter weather on poor quality Brussels sprouts this year. When the weather becomes too hot for these plants, the plump buds that are harvested become very bitter and have a sour taste. Locally, many years have produced similarly disappointing yields from these plants. Only if grown under consistently cool conditions do plants produce the delicious Brussels sprouts we love.

s. The grass grows faster than St. Augustine grass. Do I use liquid weed control or a weed and feed product?

a. Weed and feed products can do a great job of controlling many weeds in home lawns. They are easy to use but follow the labels carefully, as some are best applied when lawns are wet. Also, weed and feed may contain only one herbicide, which may limit its ability to control some weeds. Lawn application fluids often contain several different herbicides that may control broadleaf weeds and sedge-type weeds. If you have applied weed and feed or want a broader range of weed control, a liquid made for your type of lawn may be a good choice. Do note all application instructions. Some may say for use with St. Augustine lawns but exclude some types of this grass, such as Floratam.

s. I’m thinking of replacing my deteriorating lawn in St. Augustine with zoysiagrass. Would this make a good home garden?

a. Read up on zoysia grass, a type of grass that has become popular in recent years on home lawns. Obtain a brochure on zoysia species and their needs from your local University of Florida Extension office. It’s a wonderful herb that tickles the feet, with fine blades but with very specific needs. They are not free of pests or diseases and can contain weeds. Zoysia is drought tolerant but is the first of the grasses to turn brown if not watered like all other grasses. You will also likely need to remove thatch after a few years of growth. Zoysia can make a fine backyard garden, but St. Augustine is still the best choice for many residents.

s. I have an old sea grape hedge that turned light brown over the winter, and I see no sign of new growth. Should you be showing signs of growth now?

a. Most likely, the hail has severely damaged the sea grapes and they may be dead on the ground. Do a simple test of scraping the outer bark to see if there is any green under the stems. If you find brown near the top, keep going down the stems as needed until you find green. In some cases, this may be between stems closer to the soil line that are more insulated from the cold. Then prune the dead parts and wait for new shoots to appear to regrow the plants.

s. We have large azalea bushes that need pruning. When is the right time to cut them back and use fertilizer?

a. Let pruning begin once these azaleas have finished their spring flower display. Some may continue to show some flowers late in the season, but major pruning should be completed by early June when azaleas begin to form flower buds the following year. Pruning involves removing up to one-third of the old wood from larger growing varieties. Also remove all dead or decaying stems. This opens up the plants and allows vigorous new shoots to begin growing. Then you can focus on reducing the height and width as needed. Azaleas look their best with three to four feedings per year. Apply an azalea and camellia product or general landscape fertilizer once in March, May, August (if allowed) and October when needed to encourage growth and maintain green. It is recommended that slow-release products be used following label instructions.

Tom McCubbin is an urban horticulturist emeritus with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Write to him: Orlando Sentinel, PO Box 2833, Orlando, FL. 32802. Email: Blog with Tom V

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