Thursday, November 16, 2017

Time to Plant Amaryllis

There’s nothing quite like an amaryllis blooming for the holidays. Best of all, amaryllis are easy to grow and their blooms last a long time.
Begin by selecting quality bulbs. Look for bulbs that are firm and dry and still have some of their natural papery covering. You’ll find amaryllis bulbs graded as small, medium and large. The larger the bulb size, the more stalks and blooms it will produce. Once you've chosen the bulbs you want to start, it's time to pick out a container. You can grow amaryllis in ceramic pots, clay pots or plastic pots. Whichever container you select needs to have good drainage.
It's also important to know that amaryllis like to be snug in their pot, so select a container that's about an inch or so larger than the bulb and is deep enough for the roots to grow.
Next, add damp potting soil to the bottom third of the pot. Place the bulb in the center of the pot and spread the roots out so they fan out from the center of the bulb.
Do the best you can with the roots. You're mainly trying to keep the roots from being bunched together under the bulb.
Fill in around the bulb with more damp potting soil. Leave the top third of the bulb uncovered. Water thoroughly and place the bulb in a warm, well-lit location. Once the flower stalk begins to appear, you can start feeding your bulb with a 20-20-20 fertilizer. After that, fertilize every two weeks and water frequently enough to keep the soil moist.
You can also grow amaryllis in stones and water, by using a forcing vase. Trim off dried roots to prevent them from decomposing in the water. This will help keep the water cleaner, longer. Add water to the container until it just touches the bottom of the bulb. Place the container in a bright, warm location. In about 6 weeks, your amaryllis should begin to bloom. 
Once the blooms have faded, cut the flower stalk off near the top of the bulb.
Leave the foliage in place and continue to feed the bulb every couple of weeks. For colorful blooms throughout the holidays, plant amaryllis bulbs every three to four weeks, starting now.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fall Rose Care Tips

Mid-November is the right time to get your roses ready for winter. Most of the winter damage to roses and perennials comes from temperature fluctuations, dry winds and lack of moisture. It's not uncommon for winter daytime temperatures to be surprisingly warm, followed by very cold nights.
Freezing night time temperatures followed by thawing out during the day can affect the soil around your roses and cause root and graft damage. There are three things to do now. First, make sure your roses are well hydrated, so give them a good drink of water. Plants with dry roots suffer more in cold temperatures than plants with wet roots.
Second, prune back canes to about 24" to 30". Prune to the outward bud, so that future growth is toward the outside, away from the center of the bush.
Make sure your pruners are
Dull pruners will crush the cane
rather than cut it. Save any major pruning until spring. Clean up leaves and debris especially if you had problems with rust or black spot this season.
Third, mulch your roses to keep the ground cold and stable. Adding mulch at this time helps stabilize the soil temperature and prevent damage due to the freeze/thaw cycle. Mulching also helps prevent moisture loss. Roses that have been watered well and then mulched stand a better chance of surviving the winter than roses with dry roots. Choose a mulch that will stay in place through the winter. Cedar mulch and Gorilla Hair mulch are two good choices. Pile mulch 8" to 10" deep around the base of the rose. 
Rose collars can also be used to help keep mulch in place.
Place the rose collar around the rose, fasten it and fill with
a mulch.
Soil Pep is a good choice for filling rose collars.
For climbing roses, follow the same procedure; clean up around the base of the rose, water well and mulch. Don't prune climbers at this time. You can secure the canes to their trellis or bundle the canes together and wrap them with burlap for protection.
A simple way to prevent winter wind damage is to use an anti-
desiccant such as Wilt-Pruf. Applying Wilt-Pruf in the fall will help preserve moisture in your roses, through the winter.  One more important winter task is to water your roses every 4-5 weeks. Pick a nice day above 45 and water your roses, trees and perennials thoroughly.