In the garden: Amaryllis will try to grow no matter the conditions

In the garden: Amaryllis will try to grow no matter the conditions

s A friend gave me a batch of amaryllis that came in a cardboard box. When I opened it, the plant had already begun to grow, and some of the leaves were somewhat wrinkled. is this normal? Can I still get it to bloom again, or should I ask my girlfriend where she got it and get it back?

a Amaryllis bulbs have a mind of their own. When they are ready to grow, they do so, whether placed in soil or waiting inside the box in which they are shipped. Usually, amaryllis start with the flower stems first and then the leaves. I’ll put it in a bowl and gently try to make it as straight as possible. Place it in a sunny window and turn it every few days so it leans toward the light and, hopefully, adjusts itself. You may also want to give it some stem support once it starts growing. Amaryllis bulbs put on huge floral displays and can be a bit heavy to flower. They should have a flower within four to six weeks after they start growing. However, with minimal care, amaryllis bulbs will bloom again next season. Give them a long growing season, preferably outside once spring arrives, then cut them back in the fall and wait for new growth. You can also purchase bulk amaryllis bulbs from local nurseries so you can see what sprouts. Nurseries often prime the bulbs as soon as they begin to grow.

s My Encore azaleas have been amazing this year in the spring and fall. Now I have a lot of yellow leaves. I don’t want them to die. what can i do?

a I won’t worry. Evergreen azaleas (and other evergreen plants) shed their old leaves every year to make room for new growth. With some light blooms of azaleas and gardenias, the leaves turn yellow before falling. As long as the yellow leaves are below the stem, there is nothing to worry about.

s I have a large, well-established camellia that I need to move. What is the best time to do this?

a Landscape plants are best planted during their dormant months, from late November through early March. If the plant is reliably winter hardy, you can move the plant at any time during that period. For plants that may suffer winter damage, I suggest waiting until the end of the dormancy period. Dig the new hole before digging the camellia and transplant it in late February or early March.

s I was doing some cleaning in the garden this week and saw one of my Japanese camellias with flowers and lots of other colors on it. I cut the flower open and brought it inside before the really cold weather arrived. They usually don’t flower until March, and even then, I sometimes lose their blooms due to cold weather. What can I do now to protect them?

a It seems that many plants are confused by our weather. Unfortunately, you can’t slow down their buds once they start showing color. This is when they are very sensitive to cold. You have done the right thing by bringing the open flower and may consider cutting off the buds that are showing color as well. Hopefully you will have more buds that are still dormant and will therefore flower more in late winter/early spring.

s I turned off my sprinkler system and drained it, but now I wonder if I did the right thing. I’ve been told I may need to water this winter if it’s dry. What should I do?

a Watering is certainly not as critical in the winter months as it is in the summer months, but it is necessary in some years. We only watered last week, but fortunately we got some much needed rain. Typically, the fall and winter months bring enough rain that we don’t have to supplement, although some winters are drier than others. You did the right thing in draining your irrigation system to make sure it doesn’t freeze. If conditions dry out, water those more important plants. You don’t need to water lawns or all shrubs and trees, just those newly planted in open or drier areas and container plants. An additional hose or sprinkler can do the job without using the entire sprinkler system.

Janet Carson has retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and ranks among Arkansas’ most respected horticulturists. Her blog is located at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet. Write to her at PO Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email (email protected)

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