Timing is everything……Amaryllis, for example

One of the easiest flowering bulbs to grow inside, the Amaryllis is everywhere around Christmastime. I have had two of them since 2007, and have a few tips about timing their blooms.

Here’s one that opened this week:

I prefer to let them open later in the season – now – as opposed to Christmas, when there are so many other bright things around. So – here’s the timing.

Once your Amaryllis blooms, keep it watered and in a sunny window. Just like any other bulb, it needs to photosynthesize and continue to grow in order to store food for next season’s bloom. In April/May, place the pot outside in the garden, where you’ll water it like anything else for the season. If you’d like a mid-Feb bloom (as I do), wait until the end of September to pull the pot out of the garden, and place in the back of the garage or the cellar – out of light and away from moisture. The leaves will dry up and it will look dead. Pull it out the second week of December, place in a sunny window and water. It will bloom right about this time of year. The blooms should last a good 3-4 weeks, which brings us right into garden season. Bring it ON.

I had the good fortune of working at the Missouri Botanical Garden for a few years back in the 1990s, and for a while, my office was right above the orchid greenhouse. Ahh!  I think I was the first social worker the Botanical Garden ever hired (to do social work – community gardening). My dear friend Anu Sud, a forester (among other things) and I would walk the garden each day over lunch. She thought it was a disgrace that I couldn’t recognize and name all of the trees (by their woody winter twig and bark as well as leaf and habit) and she’d quiz me on our walks. Luckily, the Garden had name tags on all of the trees, so even I could learn them all fairly easily. Whenever I work in gardens, even simply watering an Amaryllis, memories of the Missouri Botanical Garden float back to me – such a wonderful place, such good friends. My work there took me all over the country; I saw so many gardens, met so many like-minded others, digging and growing food and flowers, peanuts and tobacco – on vacant land in communities across the US – so cool. I remember a fun and nutty old woman in St. Louis who – dragging an old disgusting piece of carpet out of the dumpster (uck!) would say – “look what Jesus brought me today!”, and she’d drag the thing over to a corner of her vegetable garden and lay it on a weedy path, covering it with woodchips, and you know what? That darn thing, used as mulch, worked better than any fancy expensive landscape fabric I ever saw. I learned a LOT there….as much in the community gardens as I did in the Master Gardener classes. This time of year, my mind always reverts back to every garden I’ve ever worked in…….

Have you looked closely outside yet? Any crocus or winter aconite blooming? Did you see any witch hazel in the last month? Go look closely at some tree buds – they’re swelling more every day. Daffodil shoots are popping up.  I noticed that Seaberry Farm at Easton Market Square has forced forsythia, and they’re starting to bloom. (Note – cut long forsythia branches in the last week of January, smash their woody ends with a hammer, place in cold water and keep in a cold but sunny place till they bloom). Timing is everything, and we are getting closer indeed. Whew!

~ by kbosin on February 18, 2011.

3 Responses to “Timing is everything……Amaryllis, for example”

  1. my daffofils are UP! everything is still brown otherwise though, it is so so dry. but yes, it’s coming – I can smell it.

  2. YES!

  3. Beautiful photo!

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