Tips for planting amaryllis bulbs in winter – The Morning Call

It’s time to pot your giant amaryllis bulbs. If you buy a new one this year, it will probably come with a pot and filler, if not, get a well-drained pot – about an inch or so wider than the bulb and some filler – potting soil, loose bark chips (orchid mix) or even gravel Vitreous.

Fill the base of the bowl and place the onion in the filling. Add additional padding to cover the bottom two-thirds of the bulb and tamp it down well.

Water well and place the pot in a warm location (above 60 degrees, preferably 70-80 degrees). Move to a bright area once the leaves begin to appear. Water only when the top of the potting material dries. Rotate the pot to keep the stem growing straight and stake it if necessary.

Once the flower blooms, keep it blooming longer by moving the plant to a cooler, darker area. Remove the flower stem when each flower dies, and if you intend to keep the bulb, allow the leaves to remain. Water moderately and fertilize the plant once a month.

Amaryllis can be moved outside after the weather has warmed and there is no chance of frost. Leave the leaves to grow in a sunny location until fall. After frost causes the leaves to blacken, bulb and cut the foliage and store it either in the pot or in a dark, cool area (about 55 degrees) for about eight weeks. Then start the process again.

I find that the bulbs I keep from year to year tend to be ready to bloom in February while the bulbs I buy every year are ready by Christmas.

Spotted lantern

An alien invader has been found in Berks County. The spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), native to many Asian countries, is a plant hopper that can cause significant damage to several important agricultural industries in Pennsylvania. Grapes, apples, pine nuts, and stone fruits (peaches, apricots, and the like) are all at risk.

So what can a home gardener do? Stay informed, know what to look for, and know what to do if you suspect you’ve found a spotted lanternfly.

STAY INFORMED: The pest, initially found in eastern Berks County, has prompted general quarantines in five Berks County towns – District, Pike, Hereford, Rockland and Washington – and two counties, Paley and Bechtelsville.

What does quarantine mean?

Materials that may harbor adults or eggs should not be moved outside the area. This includes: yard waste, construction or landscaping waste, tree parts (logs, stumps, firewood), packing boxes, plants and items stored outside such as lawn furniture, lawnmowers, grills, and tarps. For more information see:

What should we look for?

The spotted lanternfly is rather attractive. The forewings are gray with black spots, tipped with black reticulated (net-like) masses on a gray field. The hindwings have black tips, then a white stripe and a red patch next to the body. The body is yellow with black bars and the head and legs are black. The lesion is about one inch long and one-half inch wide when the wings are folded.

The eggs, which are 30 to 50 seed-like masses, are laid in rows (usually four to seven) and the entire mass is about one inch long. They can be found on any flat surface but generally on trees. New eggs have a gray covering while old eggs appear brown.

What to do if you find some?

Eggs: Scrape the eggs, place them in a double bag, then discard them or place them in alcohol or hand sanitizer. Alternatively, if the pest has not previously been found in your area, collect a sample and package according to the Entomology Program Sample Submission Form on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website. Photos can be sent to If you are unable to obtain a specimen or photo, you can still report a sighting by calling the automated invasive species reporting line: 866-253-7189.

Cold weather note

Now that we’ve brought all those houseplants and delicate perennials over for the winter, most of us tend to place them near any bright window. However, there are two things to remember about plants and windows in cold weather. Never allow plant leaves to touch the glass; It is too cold and will damage the plant. And when you close those effective insulated curtains to keep the cold out, don’t leave your plants between the window and the curtain. That area between the two traps all the cold air coming in from the window and is definitely too cold for most plants.

Sue Kitick is a freelance gardening columnist, writer, and lecturer. Send questions to the Garden Keeper at or by mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, PO Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.

This week in the park

*He plants:

*Finish planting: spring flowering bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees, garlic, leeks, asparagus, and rhubarb.

* Start planting pansies seeds in the fall and they will bloom in early spring.

* Seeds that need a cold period to germinate, such as poppies, for example, are planted.


*Collect garden chemicals and store them safely indoors. Check effective dates and dispose of old ones properly.

*Remove, disassemble and store Halloween decorations. Check for damage and eliminate any damage that is too severe to be repaired.

* Browse and review holiday offers. Replace or repair damaged items in preparation for installation later this month.

*Drill holes now if you are purchasing a live, potted or burlap-covered Christmas tree. Find a suitable place to plant it and dig the soil before the ground freezes. Store the soil covered in a container in the garage or storage area.

* Start your amaryllis bulbs now or about eight to 10 weeks before you want them to bloom. Be sure to allow bulbs that were summered outside to rest in a dark area without watering before flowering begins.

* Allow seed heads to remain on the plants. They provide food for birds and small mammals during the smaller fall and winter months.

*Dig and store tender bulbs after the foliage dies due to frost.

* Rake, blow or mulch leaves that fall on lawns to prevent mold problems that can thrive in tangled leaves.

* Bring or wrap large figurines and pots to avoid winter damage.

*Consider using a humidifier, humidity tray, or other means to increase the humidity around your indoor plants.

*Ask or purchase mulch for winter coverage, but do not use it until the ground freezes.

*Pull healthy spent plants and compost them; Dispose of sick or infected plants, bury them, or burn them.

*Continue watering newly planted areas until the ground freezes.

* Water any newly planted trees or shrubs any week when we receive less than an inch of rain. Regular watering is essential as plants establish and re-establish their roots. Continue watering as needed until the ground freezes.

*Inspect caulk around doors and windows and repair as needed.

* Drain standing water and remove anything where rainwater can collect in stagnant ponds.

* Clean and repair gutters and faucet bottoms.

*Inspect and repair hoses before storing them for the winter. Make sure they are drained and disconnected from the faucets properly. Freeze-resistant outdoor faucets are a good investment to prevent problems with frozen pipes.

* Provide and screen deer, rabbit and groundhog protection for at-risk plants. Reapply taste or smell deterrents.

* Clean bird feeders, feed birds regularly and provide fresh water. Cleaning spilled seeds and empty hulls.

* Tools, equipment and supplies

*Check rakes, leaf blowers, mulching equipment and other fall tools. Schedule repairs and purchase replacements. Get fresh fuel for any gas-powered equipment.

* Send winter equipment for maintenance or purchase replacements.

* Purchase de-icing materials that are safe for plants and pets.

* Clean containers, window boxes and other planting vessels when emptying them at the end of the season. Store away from the weather to limit cracking damage.

* Preparing summer equipment for storage.

*Replace worn or broken tools. Clean, sharpen and oil hand tools.


*Avoid pruning anything that cannot be reached from the ground. Never prune branches that are too heavy for you to handle. Hire a certified and insured tree pruner for pruning high, heavy branches or for any work around power lines.

* Check for ticks after every outing. Use insect repellent that contains DEET on the skin. Apply a repellent containing permethrin to clothing. Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves, hats, and long pants when working in grassy areas or under overhanging branches.

*Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other non-caffeinated or non-alcoholic beverages.

*Use sunscreen, wear hats, and limit exposure to sunlight. Avoid peak exposure hours — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m

*Always wear gloves to protect hands. Use eye protection when cutting or chopping and proper ear protection when using any loud power tools.

—Sue Ketic

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