Saturday, March 6, 2004

Amaryllis needs sun to produce flowers

Gardening Q&A

I have been saving amaryllis bulbs for years. After they flower, I allow the leaves to mature and dry. Then I cut off the dead leaves and let the bulbs rest for several months before I start watering. All I get are healthy leaves - no flowers. What's wrong?

Your bulbs probably are not receiving enough sunlight and nutrients to produce enough carbohydrates, which, in turn, produce flower buds. Once the flower withers, remove it and place the amaryllis in bright light. Fertilize twice a month with a liquid houseplant food to promote healthy leaves. Generally, a bulb will produce a flower after producing three or four leaves. Stop fertilizing and watering in early fall when the plant enters dormancy.

How can I eradicate or at least control crown vetch?

Crown vetch is planted for erosion control along interstate highways and on steep banks. However, crown vetch cannot tolerate close mowing, so regular mowing will keep it from invading your lawn.

In your gardens, you will have to control it with hand weeding or an herbicide. Apply an herbicide during or after flowering, when the plant is actively growing. Use a cardboard shield to protect desirable plants from the spray since this herbicide is non-selective. The systemic chemical will get into the vetch's shoots and roots, though a second application may be necessary for a complete kill.

Two of my jade plants, which grow in a sunny, southern window, have pin hole-size, blackish-brown spots on the upper sides of new leaves. What is it?

This is known as edema. It's not too serious, but is an indication of faulty watering. The jade plant must be watered sparingly all year and kept almost dry in the winter (don't allow the leaves to shrivel, however). It also needs good drainage.

Edema occurs when the plant receives too much water and is unable to transpire it, or give it off. Transpiration also is reduced when the light is low.

In general, water a jade plant thoroughly once every three weeks if it is growing in a plastic pot; every 10-14 days if it is growing in a clay pot. The exact timing depends on the size of the plant and the size of the pot.

Contact Tim Morehouse by Web site:; mail: c/o Cincinnati Enquirer (enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope).

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