}

February 2, 2015

EVERYTHING IN MODERATION; EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO AMARYLLIS

IF  HALLMARK WANTED TO  COMMERCIALIZE ON GROUNDHOGS DAY, SURELY THE AMARYLLIS WOULD BE ONE OF THE DECORATIVE ELEMENTS - THE AMARYLLIS ALREADY OWNS FEBRUARY.

Indulge me for a moment. An Amaryllis post? Really Matt?

I know, I gripe about gardening blogs which sometimes resort to weak, generic content - repeat posts or just useless bits of information that one can get from any old Google search, yet - these bulbs which are blooming today are just plain awesome - and since my camera is right here in front of me, here are a few shots, and a few notes on what I think about the rebirth of the Amaryllis.




It's safe to assume that most of you have raised far more impressive amaryllis than I, or at least ones that are equally gorgeous, (if you have not, then come on! Do it! But know that you will probably have to wait until next autumn to purchase bulbs). Today the Amaryllis (or more properly known as 'Hippeastrum species or varieties) are so popular that one can find them at most any supermarket, garden center or catalog, but it does matter where and when you buy them. A few brief tips before all of the awesomeness of photos: Some bulbs are sold as early blooming types, and these are the ones you must get if you want to get flowers which are even close to blooming at Christmas time. The others, are all pre-programmed to bloom much later in the winter, and that's OK - after all, it's when we all need more than a bit of color.




I will leave it up to you if you wish to keep bulbs over for another year, as it is a bit of a task - watering and fertilizing properly with a low nitrogen fertilizer will help the bulb create more flower buds deep inside, and keep the plants growing in the brightest window that you have until summer, when they should be forced into dormancy - by withholding water. If you want more buds or nicer blooms, you stand a better chance if you cut the flower stalk off of you bulbs this winter and use them as cut flowers, so that all of the plants' energy can be focused on producing new buds - but between you and I, I feel that it is best to just toss bulbs after they bloom, for most will be far too exhausted and hardly worth the time and effort to bring back to such strength as the original bulb. The choice is yours.

'FLAMENCO QUEEN'
Size generally matters with these South American bulbs - so remember this third tip - the larger the bulb diameter, the better chance you have of getting more buds,( although it does depend on the variety, some have naturally small bulbs). So although cost doesn't always translate into better quality bulbs, generally speaking, when it comes to Amaryllis, you get what you pay for. Commercial growers grade their bulbs by size, hence, cost, and the more expensive bulbs will produce more stems. A three budded bulb can provide flowers for an entire winter - exactly what I want on my windowsill.

Hippeastrum Ruby Star
'RUBY STAR'
Newer varieties are also more expensive, but many are incredibly beautiful. That said, it's hard to find an ugly amaryllis. be wary of misleading photos in catalogs too - there are not black amaryllis flowers, and if you see a dark maroon variety, it was retouched in Photoshop.


I AM FALLING IN LOVE WITH MANY OF THE NEW SMALLER VARIETIES, BUT I ADMIT, MOST WOULD LOOK BETTER IF PLANTED IN GROUPS OF 3 OR MORE IN ONE CONTAINER.



Yes, I know. But, it is pretty, right? Really - what's five feet of snow in 6 days anyway? It's not as if we live in Buffalo.

IT EVEN SURPRISES ME - THAT DORMANT POTS OF BULBS SUCH AS THESE TUILIPS WHICH WERE HARDLY SHOWING ANY TIPS LAST WEEKEND, VIRTUALLY ROCKET OUT OF THE SOIL AS SOON AS THEY ARE BROUGHT INTO THE WARMTH, INDOORS.  
THESE HYACINTHS WILL NEED SOME CARE, PERHAPS ADDITIONAL DARKNESS AS THEY ARE FORCED WITH BOTTOM HEAT, AS I DON'T WANT THEM TO BLOOM TOO DEEP IN THEIR SHOOTS. OLD TIMERS WOULD BRING THEM INTO DARK ROOMS, COVER THEM WITH POTS OR DARK CLOTH SO THAT THE GROWTH WOULD EXTEND MORE.


I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER NOW SEEING HOW FAST ALL OF THE BULBS ARE EMERGING. TIMING IS STILL A CONCERN FOR THIS UPCOMING FLOWER SHOW, BUT HOPEFULLY, I CAN BRING THEM TO BUD STAGE, AND MOVE THEM ALL BACK TO THE COOLER GREENHOUSE FOR THEIR LAST WEEK.

There has got to be a good book of forcing bulbs somewhere! Right now, I feel as if my bulbs are not extending enough, and the last thing I want is for the tulips to abort their bud, or burst open while too short, so I have turned off the lights for a couple of days to see if that will help. I did have a book on forcing commercial bulbs, where the bulb pots were placed into darkened rooms for a week or so where it was warm, just to extend the stems long enough - essential for tulips and hyacinths, less so for narcissus and the lesser bulbs. I am also concerned about the muscari varieties, as each appears to be at a different stage of growth.


I'VE SET THE TIMERS ON SO THAT THESE BULBS WILL GET 13.5 hours of LIGHT, ESSENTIALLY TURNING A SPARE BEDROOM INTO THE MONTH OF APRIL. COOL EVENINGS, AND NIGHTS, WITH THE ARTIFICIAL WARMTH OF GROW LIGHT BULB-SUNSHINE, DURING THE DAY.

If you've made it this far down the page, then I feel a little bit less guilty asking you to consider this --as it feels so disingenuous -but here I go --  you can vote for this blog( or another one)  now at the Garden Bloggers Hall of Fame site (here). There, I said it. Look -  at least I am not posting every ten minutes on Facebook or Twitter begging you all to vote once again for who is your favorite garden blogger - ugh, sometimes blogging can be so……bloggy. Well, I do understand that in the end, it is a numbers game in many ways, or at least it is to some bloggers. Still, I feel funny asking folks to do something which I believe should be a natural and organic thing - but then again, those self-promoters often do win in the end. So….if you believe in this blog or enjoy reading it's silly, random content, or if you feel that the content is sometimes interesting, or that the design doesn't make your eyes bleed, please cast your vote by Febrary 6th (this Friday - see - I waited until the end of the contest!). Thanks!

6 comments :

  1. Love your pots in the 2nd pic too. Nice and mossy!

    extravagantgardens.com

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  2. Beautiful! Love that 'Ruby Star'. There are so many beautiful varieties. My mother-in-law grew some doubles this year, which were even more beautiful than I would have thought. Stay warm with all that snow!

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  3. The amaryllis are beautiful!!! I'm just starting to use LED lights to do some growing indoors so I can't wait to follow your blog for more information on that subject. I'm in Ohio so I can relate to all the snow. Hang in there - spring will be here soon enough!

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  4. I've had good luck so far getting my 'little lion' or whatever it's called to rebloom for me - it's a smaller flowered red hippeastrum. It seems to have divided in my pot on it's own so given enough time, it will give you the visual power of multiple bulbs in a pot. Also, have you tried any of the selections from Komoriya nursery (they sell through ebay)? They have lots of really interesting hybrids including the elusive yellow colored hippeastrum's... ;)

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  5. I garden in zone 10b so I plant my amaryllis outdoors. They multiply beautifully and are quite carefree. For me, a Christmas gift of an amaryllis bulb is the gift that keeps on giving!

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  6. Re: a good book on bulb forcing--have you read Bulb Forcing by Art Wolk? He's won multiple awards at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

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