What to Do with Amaryllis, Coffee Grounds, and Mushroom Compost – Redlands Daily Facts

Q: I was given three different colors of amaryllis plants a few years ago. Now they have offsets coming from the sides of the LEDs. Can I disconnect them from the main lamp? When should this be done and how do I take care of them? What is the difference between it and the pink amaryllis plant that blooms in August? Sid, Colton.

A: The Amaryllis hybrid (Hippeastrum), shipped by the Dutch, is grown in South Africa and is available in several colors such as red, pink, salmon, white, near orange and some striped. It can have two or more flowers (8 to 9 inches wide) on a sturdy stem about 2 feet tall. Where plants grow outdoors, flowers bloom in spring; Growing indoors, it can bloom a few weeks after giving it water. After the flowers bloom and fade, cut off the flower stock at the top of the bulb. Its broad, belt-shaped leaves will begin to appear a few weeks after it blooms. The leaves will disappear in the fall.

Bulb offsets can be removed at any time and planted in small pots of soil. If they are small (less than three-quarters of an inch in diameter), you can place two or three of these bulbs in a 4-inch pot. If they are larger than that, you can place each one in its own 3-inch pot.

Keep the mixture moist, but not wet, as overwatering may kill them. Fertilize with liquid homemade plant food (5-10-10) from March through September. Young plants do not need a drying (rest) period until after the first flowering. Once it blooms, you can transplant it into a larger pot, two inches apart from the bulb to the outer edge. If you buy only the large bulb, plant it in well-drained soil, any time from November to February.

When the leaves turn yellow, begin withholding water, allowing the plant to dry out. Repeat in late fall or early winter.

Amaryllis belladonna (Bronzvigia), also known as the naked lady, is native to South Africa and grows in our region in clumps 2 to 3 feet wide. The plant produces leaves in the fall and goes dormant in the spring or early summer. In August, the bulbs produce numerous fragrant pink, four to 12 trumpet-shaped flowers on sturdy, reddish-brown stems.

This hardy, long-lived plant grows in almost any soil with little watering. After the plant flowers, you can lift the bulbs, divide them, and share them with a friend. If you plant it at the wrong time, it may not bloom for several years.

Q: Are coffee and tea good for the soil? Jackie, Redlands.

A: Coffee and tea are acidic and organic, so they make excellent soil amendments for acid-loving plants like azaleas and gardenias. The land retains moisture and improves soil texture. They contain 2 percent nitrogen, a small amount of phosphoric acid, and less than 1 percent potash, in addition to minerals and trace elements.

As a heavy coffee drinker, I put all of my coffee grounds, including the filter, in my compost pile. I also place them on the surface of the soil in acid-loving container plants until they overflow, then they go into the vegetable garden or compost pile.

Q: Is mushroom compost safe to use in my garden? Can you tell me what fungicides and insecticides are used in mushroom cultivation? Dale, Yucaipa

A: Mushroom growing medium is a good safe amendment to our soil. It is mainly made from wheat straw and/or horse or chicken manure, gypsum and possibly beer grains (the rye grains left over after brewing beer) and cottonseed meal. It is covered with peat moss.

There are no herbicides used, as farmers are not disturbed by weeds due to the heat generated in the soil. Two insect growth regulators (products that keep insects in a small form unable to reproduce) are used.

Due to the higher pH and higher temperature during pasteurization of the crop, fungicides will be reduced by 50 percent. The mushroom growth medium is disposed of as fertilizer after three months.

Any pesticides used cannot be picked up by the roots of food crops.

The mushroom compost available in our area appears to have been composted before you got the material. The only way to know for sure if there are any contaminants is to analyze the compost.

Do you have a question about the garden? Call the Garden Master Hotline in San

Bernardino at mgsanbern@ucdavis.edu

Readers can email Robert H. Schuler at rhschuler@eee.org

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: