Caring for perennials that were heaved from the ground

BACKYARD Q&A

January 17, 1999

Q. I recently noticed that some of the new perennials I planted in September were lying on their sides with the roots exposed. I replanted them as soon as I saw what happened. Will they survive?

A. Your plants were heaved out of the ground by the freezing and thawing action of the soil they were planted in. The plants may be dead if the roots dried out. Pull some extra soil up around the crowns and gently push down on the soil around the plants to anchor them more firmly. Then cover the ground with a 3-inch layer of leaves or straw.

Q. I received an amaryllis for the holidays that bloomed beautifully. The instructions for what to do next were sketchy. Is this a permanent houseplant? Will it rebloom at some point?

A. Amaryllis is grown both indoors and outdoors and will rebloom some time during the winter months if you treat it properly. Remove the faded flowers now but leave the flower stalk and foliage. Move your plant to a bright, sunny window and water when the top of the media dries.

In late May, after all danger of frost has passed, take the potted amaryllis outdoors. Plant up to the rim of the pot in a sunny garden location. Fertilize regularly with a soluble plant food. Bring the plant back inside before the first frost. Remove all yellow leaves and the flower stalk. Keep in a cool (50-degree) room for three months and do not water. Then move to a cool, sunny room, resume watering and wait for the flower buds to form.

Q. My local hardware store has lots of good, firm spring bulbs on sale. Would I be wasting my money to plant them now?

A. They should do fine if your garden soil thaws and you can work a balanced fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 8 inches.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Use sand to improve traction on icy walkways and magnesium chloride products to melt ice. Call the phone number below to request a fact sheet on other recommended ice-melting materials.

2. Use live traps to capture and remove mice and chipmunks in the home.

3. Remove and discard the egg masses of the Eastern tent caterpillar from the branches of wild cherry trees. The egg masses resemble black plastic foam.

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