Extension News

Ask the ISU Experts

Amaryllis flower

1/11/2006

I have some leftover vegetable seeds from last year.  Will they germinate and grow this spring? 
Most vegetable seeds will remain viable for several years when stored in a cool, dry location.  If properly stored, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, squash, watermelon, eggplant and radish seeds will remain viable for five years.  Snap bean, carrot, pea, pepper, tomato, cauliflower and pumpkin seeds can be stored for three to four years.  Seeds of sweet corn and onion remain viable for only one to two years. 

How do I care for my amaryllis after it is done flowering? 
Some individuals discard their amaryllis after it is done blooming.  However, it’s possible to save  the amaryllis and force it to flower again next year. 

Proper cultural practices must be followed to successfully grow and reflower amaryllis bulbs.  After the flowers fade, cut off the flower stalk with a sharp knife.  Make the cut 1 to 2 inches above the bulb.  Don't damage the foliage.  In order for the bulb to bloom again next season, the plant must replenish its depleted food reserves.  The strap-like leaves manufacture food for the plant.  Place the plant in a sunny window and water when the soil surface is nearly dry.  Fertilize every two to four weeks with a house plant fertilizer. 
 
The amaryllis can be moved outdoors in late May.  Harden or acclimate the plant to the outdoors by placing it in a shady, protected area for two to three days then gradually expose it to longer periods of sunlight.  Once hardened, select a site in partial to full sun.  Dig a hole and set the pot into the ground.  Outdoors, continue to water the plant during dry weather.  Also, continue to fertilize the amaryllis once or twice a month through July.  Bring the plant indoors in mid-September.  Plants left indoors should be kept in a sunny window. 
        
In order to bloom, amaryllis bulbs must be exposed to temperatures of 50 to 55 degrees F for a minimum of eight to 10 weeks.  This can be accomplished by inducing the plant to go dormant and then storing the dormant bulb at a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees F.  To induce dormancy, place the plant in a cool, semi-dark location in late September and withhold water.  Cut off the foliage when the leaves turn brown.  Then place the dormant bulb in a 50 to 55 degrees F location for at least eight to 10 weeks.  After the cool requirement has been met, start the growth cycle again by watering the bulb and placing it in a well-lighted, 70 to 75 degrees F location.  Keep the potting soil moist, but not wet, until growth appears.  The other option is to place the plant in a well-lighted, 50 to 55 degrees F location in fall.  Continue to water the amaryllis.  Keep the potting soil slightly moist.  (The amaryllis foliage will remain green throughout the period.)  After the cool requirement has been met, move the plant to a warmer (70 to 75 degrees F) location. 

When is the best time to prune deciduous trees? 
Most deciduous trees can be pruned anytime during the year.  (To discourage the spread of oak wilt, oak trees should not be pruned between April 1 and July 1.)  However, late winter is generally regarded as the best time to prune most deciduous trees.  The absence of leaves on deciduous trees in February and March provide an excellent view of the tree structure.  Appropriate branches can be easily spotted and removed.  In addition, pruning cuts made in late winter will begin to seal over quickly when growth resumes in spring. 

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Contacts :

Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, rjauron@iastate.edu

Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu

Two high-resolution photos of amaryllis flowers are available for use with this week's column:

Amaryllis1-11-06.jpg [2.6 MB]

2Amaryllis1-11-06.jpg