Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

February, 2007
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Don't Toss That Gift Amaryllis
Amaryllis that have just finished blooming can be grown for their foliage through the fall, and encouraged to bloom again next winter. Cut off the bloomed-out stalk about an inch above where it emerges from the bulb, or allow it to dry up naturally so the plant can reabsorb the energy and store it for the next bloom. Set the plant in a warm, sunny place, water generously, and fertilize regularly through August. Then, let the plant rest a bit, with no fertilizer and only enough moisture to keep the soil barely moist. Be sure to keep the soil from drying out at any time, however, or future flowering may be affected. In late fall, move the plant to a spot that's sunny but where daytime temperatures are in the 70s and nightime temperatures are above 55. Begin watering and fertilizing with a high-phosphorus and high-potash fertilizer (the last two numbers of the N-P-K trio), and watch for buds. You may even have two or three separate bloom stalks.

Clever Gardening Technique

Pencils and String Aid Seed Sowing
Distributing small seeds evenly when sowing can be tricky. A lead pencil provides two approaches. For smaller seeds, moisten the pointed end, stick it into the seed to pick up one or two, and move them to the rooting medium. For slightly larger seeds, moisten and use the pencil's eraser end. A length of wet string helps for thick sowing: dip it into the seeds and place it on the rooting medium, string and all. The seeds will sprout next to the string, which will rot away.

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