Master Gardener Sue Morris: Hardy amaryllis grow in the garden instead of pots provided during the holidays – West Central Tribune

Master Gardener Sue Morris: Hardy amaryllis grow in the garden instead of pots provided during the holidays – West Central Tribune

A common item to stock up on at Christmas time are the pre-packaged amaryllis bulbs you see in many stores. The box provides the bulb, soil and pot and all you have to do is plant it and wait six weeks or so for the beautiful flower to appear.

The first thing you see is the flower stem, then the flower. After flowering is completed, leaves appear. Some people want to preserve their bulbs to bloom again the following year, so the stem is cut but the leaves are left to renew the bulb for next year.

There are also hardy amaryllis plants that you can plant in the garden. These are perennial plants. They also go by other names – naked ladies or resurrection lilies.

We've grown these for probably 40 years. They are very hardy and I have never had any insect or disease problems with them. Over the years, I've given away dozens of bulbs as they reproduce. It is not invasive but still needs to be diluted from time to time.

Amaryllis grow hardy, unlike the ones we find at Christmas time. The belt-like leaves are the first to appear in the garden in spring. It's like, “What in the world is this?” By the time the tulips bloom, the leaves are about 18 to 24 inches long.

Then when other things grow in the flower bed, you forget about them and after a while the leaves disappear completely. Just like clockwork — the week of the Kandiyohi County Fair or maybe a week before — you see a stalk or two start to emerge from the barren ground.

This stem grows very quickly and soon pink flowers will bloom in your garden. There are no papers at all – hence the name “The Naked Lady”. As of this writing, they are still in full bloom in my garden.

Fall can be a busy time in the garden. This is the perfect time to move or transplant a peony. Remember, they should be planted shallowly and in full sun for best flower production. If you have a problem with your peonies not blooming, this may be the problem.

Irises can be divided and/or transplanted at this time of year as well. It is another plant that should not be planted too deeply.

When should you dig up tender bulbs to bring them inside for winter storage? There are different answers for different plants.

Caladiums, elephant ears, calla lilies, tuberous begonias and star of Bethlehem should be dug before frost hits them. If your begonia is in a pot, you can bring the entire pot into the basement if you like and withhold water until April.

Other bulbs should be placed in a warm, dry area and dried. The tops should be cut off at that time.

Caladium should be kept at or near 70 degrees in storage. The rest do well at 50 degrees in the cool part of the basement. The University of Minnesota recommends storing these bulbs in sphagnum peat or vermiculite.

You do not need to wait for frost to dig happiness. It can be dug up six weeks after flowering. Long-term treatment for happy people should be about three weeks. After three weeks, the old corm and corm should be removed.

Drying and curing temperatures for these materials should be 60-70 degrees in a dry, well-ventilated area. Before storing worms, inspect them for insects or diseases. Dust with an insecticide and fungicide mixture labeled for Happiness if necessary.

If you have had thrips in your gladiolus this year, dust them with carbaryl (Sevin) before storing them, then shake the worms into a bag containing a small amount of dust (just two teaspoons per hundred corms). Store them flat in cardboard boxes, without touching each other. (This way when they start growing in the spring, the buds will start to stick straight out and give you a nice heads up in the garden.)

Dahlias should not be dug until after a severe frost.

Sue Morris

Master Gardener Sue Morris has been writing a column since 1991 for Kandiyohi County newspapers. Morris has been certified by the University of Minnesota as a horticulturist and horticulturist since 1983. She lives in Kandiyohi County.

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