Getting Amaryllis To Reflower

Growing amaryllis indoors is a great way to have luxurious, large flowers indoors during the drab winter months.  It’s actually fairly easy to get them to rebloom year after year.  Here are the steps if you are starting out now with a new bulb, which typically go on sale at hardware and department stores as well as gardening centers sometime in the month of November.

1.  Plant the bulb.  The bulbs like snug containers, and the pointy top 1/3 of the bulb needs to be above the soil level in the pot.  The little plastic pots that come with the bulb that you purchase have no drain holes, so you will not need a saucer beneath them, but you also have to water carefully so you do not waterlog the bulbs.  Water so it’s moist but not soggy, and place the pot in a sunny window.

2.  Continue to water and fertilize with a complete organic fertilizer every two weeks after planting.  Eventually leaves will sprout from the bulb, and a thick stem will emerge, from which the flower head will grow.  With a smaller bulb, this may or may not happen the first year, but should as the bulb matures.  I have read that for every five leaves on the bulb, you will get one flower stalk.  My younger bulbs have bloomed with as few as three leaves.  My bulbs are not mature enough to have more than five leaves at this point, but we will see if this is true as time goes on.

3.  After the bulbs have bloomed, hopefully around or just after the winter holidays,  continue to water and fertilize every other week all winter, and through the spring and summer.  In the summer, if you wish, you may move the pots outdoors in a protected spot like a porch  in July when it warms up, but they also do well hanging out indoors in front of a sunny window.

4.  In the beginning of September, stop fertilizing the pots, and cut way back on watering.  You want them to dry out a bit, but not die from lack of water.  Very little is needed.  Foliage may wither and die at this point, and that is fine–simply use a scissors and cut off any unsightly browned foliage as it occurs.  If the pots were outside for the summer, in the beginning of  September bring them back inside to their sunny window.    Keep the pots barely moist and no fertilizer for the months of September and October.

5.  Starting in the beginning of November, resume watering and fertilizing every other week, and keep them in a sunny window.  This will help to wake up the bulbs, and they should start eventually to send out new foliage and flower stems.

Another note:  The flower stems can get very tall, and so I like to keep very slender stakes, even a thin skewer or chopstick can work, and slide them into the pot and use twine or even ribbon to tie the stem to the stake, so that it doesn’t break.  I had a cat knock one over, and the stem was hanging over.  I  used scotch tape to wrap around the stem and stake to get the damaged stem back up into an upright position, and it actually bloomed, but your mileage may vary.

That’s all there is to it–as you can see, a very easy process.  You can place plain pots together in decorative baskets found very inexpensively at thrift stores, and cover the top with Spanish moss to hide the pots, making a lovely holiday decoration for your home.


Cleaning Up Garden Beds

In between rain squalls, I have been running out and weeding, finishing up planting bulbs, pruning back dead perennial tops and in general trying to bring order to the chaos outdoors in the garden beds.  We are down to three good-sized and 2 small salad greens beds, and hopefully that will see us through until spring, barring horrible deep snow like last year.  On one hand, it is nice to not have all the work that comes from tending a garden in the busy summer months, but I don’t like to give things up entirely just yet.  And I have not been super thorough, because the black-cap chicadees and other birds have been enjoying the seedheads of several of the annuals that I have left for them out in the garden.  Dahlias are still blooming a bit, and a few roses on the shrubs.  I noticed a bit of blue borage, California poppy and a bit of ‘Jupiter’s Beard’ blooming.  There is a little bit of annual feverfew blooming, as well as the viburnum shrubs, with dark evergreen foliage and clusters of white flowers that the hummingbirds appreciate during the winter months.  Still a hardy fuschia flower or two hanging on as well.  A few nasturtium and chamomile flowers in the hanging baskets still carrying on, and primrose blooms.  The ‘Tuscan Blue’ rosemary (one I highly recommend–the flowers are gorgeous, and it is a wonderful evergreen plant that is edible) is starting to send out a few blue flowers very early.  The plumbago was lovely for quite a long time this fall.  With burgundy leaves highlighting the bright sky-blue flowers, it has alas succumbed to the colder temperatures and excess rain.  I still need to bring the few pellargonium I still have outside, inside for the winter.  If they are placed under lights, they will bloom all winter long.  I do a bit here an there as I have time, and it is an ongoing process for a while.  I also need to collect some maple leaves to shred and then use on the beds as mulch–if it ever stops raining long enough.  I also like to add them to the compost pile.

A Gardening Quote From Shakespeare

In Othello, Act I, Scene III, Shakespeare wrote, “Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”

I like this –how about you?