Category Archives: Houseplants

Reblooming an Amaryllis Bulb

By Sharleen Pratt, Master Gardener (in Training)

sharleen amarllyis
Amaryllis Bulb in its 3rd Year

Amaryllis bulbs are a wonderful winter flower! They never disappoint and are easy to grow over the Christmas season. They come in many dramatic colours. The bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom, so it is always a good idea to spend a little more to get a good sized bulb.

They are prized for their exotic trumpet-shaped flowers that sit on top of leafless stalks or “scapes”. They are native to Peru and South Africa. The bulbs were brought to Europe in the 1700s. In warmer climates, they have been known to bloom for 75 years.

In Canada, we generally buy new bulbs each year, but did you know that it is possible to keep these bulbs from year-to-year and it is relatively easy to get them to re-bloom. Below is a simple guide to what works for me, but I have also attached a few reliable articles. The methods are a little different, but with the same end result.

 

HOW TO GET YOUR AMARYLLIS TO RE-BLOOM

  • Wait until the amaryllis finishes blooming.
  • Remove the wilted flowers and allow the stalk to die back a little to feed the bulb, then cut it down. Leave any leaves as they also help to feed the bulb.
  • When all chance of frost has past, take your amaryllis outside in the pot and place it in a protected area. It is best to choose a spot that gets morning sun rather than the scorching sun of the afternoon.
  • If you wish, you can also remove it from the pot and plant it in the garden. I tend to leave it in the pot as I find there is less chance of infection from disease.
  • During the summer months, feed it with an all purpose fertilizer about once a month. To be honest, I don’t always remember to do this! If we have a really hot summer, you may actually get another bloom during the summer season. I had this happen two summers ago.
  • Around Thanksgiving, before a hard frost, remove the bulb from the ground or the pot.
  • Cut all the foliage back, close to the bulb.
  • Dry the bulb well (this is important), outside if it’s sunny or in a nice sunny window.
  • Once it is good and dry, put the bulb in a brown paper bag and store it in a cool, dry place. I store mine in the back of the garage up against the house.
  • Leave it for at least 6 weeks.
  • Bring it back in, pot it up in good potting soil. Don’t use a pot that is too large as they like to be snug. Remember to leave the top 1/3 out of the soil.
  • Put in some good supports, fertilize with an all purpose fertilizer at ½ strength, keep it watered but not too wet and ‘cross your fingers’.
  • Indirect light is best until you see some growth, then move it to where you normally keep your amaryllis.
  • You may find that you will get leaf growth first, but eventually you should see a stalk emerge.
  • I have found that you tend to get flowers closer to the end of January, which is a real treat in the middle of winter. If you prefer to have them earlier, start the process before Thanksgiving.
  • Good luck!!

For a slightly different method, check out this article by Sonia Day who writes for the Toronto Star. Or, check out this article written by a Master Gardener from Guelph-Wellington.

The Soil in Your Garden

by Christine Freeburn – Master Gardener

For the plants in your garden to be the best they can be, you need to start with the best soil you can make. Enhancing your soil with compost and manure is the best way to do this.

Soil provides physical anchorage for plants

You need your soil to have enough texture to hold your plants without being so heavy that it strangles them.

You should know what your SOIL TEXTURE is.  To do this, you can try this simple test:

  • fill a quart jar one third full with a sample of your soil
  • dig down into the soil to get a sample
  • fill the jar with water, put the lid on tightly and shake well.

As the soil settles, you will be able to see different layers.  The bottom level is the sand portion.  Next will be silt. Silt has larger particles than sand, but smaller than clay.  Last will be clay.

The amount of each that you have in your soil will determine what type of soil you have….clay, sandy, silty or any combination of these. The best soil is sandy loam, which is about 60% sand and 40% clay.

This will also tell you how your soil deals with water….does it drain well or hold and stay wet longer.

You can amend your soil to improve the texture, but it is a constant challenge. Sometimes it is better to accept what type of soil you have and grow plants that prefer a sandy soil or a clay soil.

Soil supplies water and nutrients to plants

When you water, water the soil and roots of your plants, not the leaf portions. Water is absorbed through the roots and channels up into the leaves.

pH

Another thing you should know about your soil is it’s pH…is it acidic or alkaline. pH has a scale of 1 to 10, with acidic soil have a low number. Most plants like 6.0 to 7.5. This is where they can best absorb the nutrients in your soil. You might have heard that plants like rhodendrons prefer acidic soil, which would have a lower pH.

Knowing the nutrients in your soil is important also. You can send away to Guelph University to get your soil tested, however that can be expensive. You can use an inexpensive soil testing kit also. It will also test for pH.

There are 3 big nutrients and these are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. You will be familiar with them as the three numbers on fertilizers. Many fertilizers are synthetic, however you can get organic types.

Nitrogen is for leaves and greening of your plants.NPK-01.png

  • fish emulsion
  • blood meal

Phosphorus is for bloom

  • bone meal

Potassium is for roots and overall health of plant

  • wood ash
  • composted seaweed

Other natural fertilizers

  • animal manures – make sure they are well composted or they will burn your plants or be full of weeds
  • manure tea – dilute manure in water, let sit for a week, then water plants
  • comfrey tea – another good nutritional source
  • epson salts – put a tsp in hole when planting

Know your soil, it’s texture, pH and nutritional content

Grow the plants that will thrive in those conditions or be prepared to make amendments

Soil is a living thing which needs to be enriched on a regular basis

Compost and Topdress