Sunday, February 10, 2008

February gardening notes

Has the lack of outdoor flowers caused you to go in to withdrawal? For your flower fix visit a garden show. This weekend, Feb. 21 -24 is the Maymont Flower & Garden Show ( at the Richmond Convention Center. In March the Philadelphia Flower Show ( is the 2th thro 9th and the San Francisco Show ( is the 12th thro 16th. Come April is the Historic Garden Week in Virginia ( April 19th thro 27th. Also in April is the Cincinnati Flower Show ( which will be held outside from April 19th thro 27th. May 20th thro 24th is the grand Chelsea Show ( in Eng.

I decided to google for info on the continuing care of my Amaryllis (Hippeastrum). I was amazed to find more than 250 sites. One site only sells Amaryllis bulbs. For “after blooming care” cut off only the dead flowers. The flowering stem should not be cut until it starts sagging. After our last frost the pot can be placed outside in full sun. To provide food for the bulb you should continue to water and fertilize all summer.

When the leaves begin to yellow, cut the leaves back to about two inches from the top of the bulb and bring inside before the first frost of fall. This site then suggest removing the bulb from the pot and placing it in the frig at 40-50 deg. For a minimum of 6 weeks. Other sites say to put the plant in a 55 degree room - not the refrigerator. Since The Amaryllis Bulb Company is located in Florida they probably can not find a 55 degree room in late Fall. The plant should be placed back in sunlight 8 weeks before you would like them to bloom.

Were your paperwhites tall and floppy this holiday? They needed a drink. Professor Bill Miller of Cornell's Flower Bulb Research Program discovered that paperwhites(Narcissus tazetta) grown in water with a 5% concentration of alcohol bloomed beautifully on one-third shorter stems. Since most liquors are about 40% alcohol, that works out to 1 part booze to 7 parts water. Gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila and rubbing alcohol work well, but wine and beer are too high in sugar. Start watering with this mixture once the roots begin growing and the green shoots reach about 1 to2 inches. This watering solution stunts the growth of the plant, but does not affect the blooms.

Native of Mediterranean Europe and Asia Minor paperwhite bulbs, which have not been forced, may be planted outside in zones 8 – 10. They may survive in our area if planted in a protected southern exposure site.

I’ve been watching a clump of daffodils which are growing outside my carport. When the weather is in the 40s the buds turn yellow. Then we get a freeze, they close up to green. The same buds have been slightly opening and closing for over a month.

This month our temperatures are ranging from 20 to70 degrees. Daffodils and crocuses are popping out. Winter jasmine’s masses of yellow blooms are often mistaken for Forsythia.

Forsythia is easy to force. Every February I cut a few branches, stick them in a jar with water and within a week have small blooms. However Andre & Mark Viette describe professional methods to force blooms. Cut 2 to 3 foot long branches covered with swelling buds, put cut ends in icy cold water and place for 2 days in a cool dark location. Then again cut the ends and place in vase of cold water and display in a sunny location. That is their cold method. Their warm method is even more complicated. Place the cut branches in warm water. Tent the branches and container in plastic and locate in a warm, but darken room.