Water management key to blooming amaryllis

Garden Q&A

December 28, 1997

My sister gave me an amaryllis plant on Thanksgiving and I want to know how to get it to bloom.

Keep the growing media and the bottom of the amaryllis bulb moist. Be careful not to overwater or your bulb may rot. Move your plant into a sunny location once you notice the first flower bud forming.

Don't throw your amaryllis in the compost pile when it's finished blooming. Keep it watered and fertilized with a water-soluble plant food and set it outdoors during the summer months. Bring it back inside in early fall to give it a rest. Fall is the time to reduce watering and stop fertilizing. Your plant will use the food it made and stored during the summer months to produce new blooms next winter.

I plan to plant my first vegetable garden this spring and just received some vegetable-seed catalogs. I'm wondering why some seeds are treated and with what?

Seed companies treat some seeds with hot water to kill disease organisms on or inside the seeds. This is very helpful in preventing diseases such as black rot in cabbage, anthracnose in peppers, and bacterial speck and spot in tomatoes. The companies also coat certain seeds with a fungicide, like captan, to prevent attack by soil-borne fungi.

Large seeds, like beans and sweet corn, planted in cool soils in early spring, are especially vulnerable to these soil diseases. Packets of treated seed are clearly labeled as such and should be kept away from children and pets. Many seed companies also offer nontreated corn and bean seed.

In the fall I took some cuttings from the rosemary and Vietnamese coriander plants I had growing in my herb garden. I followed all the instructions given by plant-propagation books and most of the cuttings rooted. What should I do with these plants between now and spring? They are sitting on a north-facing windowsill and don't seem to be growing at all.

The plants may survive in their present location but would be much happier in a south-facing window or, better yet, growing under a shop light fitted with one cool white fluorescent bulb and one grow light bulb. A timer can be attached so that your plants receive 14 to 16 hours of light each day. Keep the growing media slightly moist and fertilize lightly, once a month, with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or visit its Web site at http: //www.agnr.umd.edu/hgic.


* Mist herb plants growing indoors to raise the humidity level around the plants. Maintain good air circulation around plants and keep them away from drafts and heat registers.

* Don't neglect your Christmas tree now that the big day has come and gone. Never allow the reservoir of your tree stand to dry out. The tree bottom may callous over and then the tree may not be able to absorb water. Check water levels daily. Trees will drink up to 1 gallon of water each day.

* Order seed catalogs from companies you wish to patronize in 1998. Review your 1997 garden diary to see what worked and what didn't. Now's the time to look back and jot down your observations so you can build on successes next year and avoid mistakes.

* Need a gift to reciprocate for a holiday present you didn't expect? Purchase a gift certificate from a local nursery or garden center or from a mail-order seed or garden-supply catalog.

Pub Date: 12/28/97

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