“Grand Prix” Amaryllis
Photo courtesy of White Flower Farm
In the bleak mid-winter there are blooms to lift our spirits: the amaryllis is one of these. Cultivate an amaryllis now, and in the dark days of February you will be uplifted by their extravagantly large blooms. And if you plant a bulb (or bulbs) at intervals of two weeks you can enjoy a continuous stream of blooms throughout the winter months—preventing winter blahs.
Amaryllis lovers will go immediately online to White Flower Farm for their amazing selection of color, size and form. White Flower Farm in Litchfield Connecticut, has a wonderful variety of Amaryllis, and provides on-line help with growing Amaryllis through step-by-step videos such “How to Pot and Care for Amaryllis” and “Growing Amaryllis in Water.” You will find amaryllis there that are sure to stand out as specimen plants in your home. The most commonly encountered bloom color is a fiery red, but amaryllis also come in white, candy stripes and even lavender.
If your budget is small or you want to arrange a massing of amaryllis, you can find less showy bulbs right now in all the garden centers and big box stores such as Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart–I’ve even seen them at Giant and Safeway.
Amaryllis are incredibly easy to grow. As a general rule, the bulbs will flower from seven to ten weeks from the time they are potted. Amaryllis that are purchased already potted just need a thorough watering with lukewarm water to start the process. Water sparingly after the initial watering—too much water can cause the bulb to rot. Water only when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.
Bulbs sold in bags should be placed in a pot with a good potting compost. The bulb should be planted up to its neck, and the soil firmed to secure it in place. Keep the potted bulb in a warm place with direct light. Our homes offer an ideal temperature of 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Water sparingly until the stem appears and then, increase watering as the leaves and bud appear. The stem of the new bloom should grow rapidly and the flowers develop once the stem has reached its full growth.
Last year I grew an Amaryllis ‘Ferrari’ for a spectacular Valentine’s Day gift for my sweetheart. This year I’ve gone one step forward with the “Grand Prix”.
Illustration courtesy of Learn2Grow
Washington Area gardeners have long depended on bulb specialists Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, Virginia for their beautiful spring display gardens and catalogue of healthy, dependable bulbs.
Now you will be able to meet Brent Heath and learn how you can create beautiful flower container gardens using flowering bulbs. On Saturday, November 9th, Green Spring Gardens Park is offering a morning session with Brent, who will demonstrate the most innovative methods of creating a forced container garden, teach you which bulbs are best suited for pots, and impress you with his charm and knowledge. His method involves layering several different kinds of bulbs to get an amazing display of color during the final doldrums of winter.
Don’t miss this opportunity! You can use the link below to register:
Green Spring Gardens Park: Designing Garden Containers with Bulbs
This Saturday, November 2nd, Green Spring Garden Park will host a lecture by Bryce Lane, a two-time Emmy Award winning television personality and recognized horticulture teacher at NC State University. He has been the host of “In the Garden With Bryce Lane”, an Emmy Award winning home gardening TV show on UNC TV for 10 yrs.
Saturday’s lecture from 1-2:30pm will be on the latest gardening trends — an introduction to the latest (and maybe greatest) gardening ideas to consider in your future gardening endeavors.
The fee is small: $15 for Fairfax County residents. You must register– you can sign up here: Gardening on the Edge.
By Thanksgiving our garden leaves have been raked (mostly) and incorporated into our compost bins. Spring blooming bulbs have been planted. Once the routine tasks have been performed, it will be time for the gardener to transform outdoor containers into winter gardens.
I live along the Potomac River corridor and my garden is dominated by the shade of lovely oaks, tulip poplars and other large deciduous trees. During the growing season, I maximize all available sunshine by using large containers in garden beds or on hardscaped areas like my driveway.
But what does the gardener do with these large urns and pots when summer is over?
Colorful blooms and foliage can continue to delight us even in the winter if cold hardy plants are used. I have had success combining huechera, ornamental kale, ornamental grasses, pansies and groundcovers such as creeping jenny, English ivy, and creeping euonymous into my outdoor containers—these plants provide texture, color and in some cases blooms throughout the fall and winter.
Rules to follow to ensure that your containers continue to give pleasure well into the spring:
- Choose a container that won’t crack from the freezing and thawing sure to happen in our area. Porcelain, ceramic and terra cotta pots are most problematic as the swelling of moisture rich soil as it freezes can exert enough pressure against the pot to cause cracking. Iron, stone, concrete, wooden and fiberglass containers are more likely to survive.
- Choose plants that are hardy at least two zones colder than our area. For us in Northern Virginia that means plants that are hardy to zone 5b—check the garden tags on plants in the garden center. Plants hardy in our area are: dwarf arborvitae, dwarf evergreen holly, dwarf juniper, “green gem” boxwood, ornamental kale, yucca filamentosa, sweet flag, ornamental grasses, pansies, violas, primroses, ivy, heuchera, heucherilla, creeping jenny, creeping euonymous, and ajuga. I combine these plants with early season bulbs such as crocus, daffodils and grape hyacinth to extend the life of the container into spring.
- Plant up your container early enough to give the new plants several weeks to become established in the pots before the first hard freeze. If the weather is dry, water the containers once a week, otherwise check on it every few weeks to make sure the soil is moist. Once the soil freezes, you no longer need to keep watering.
Containers can be “freshened up” for December holidays by pushing cut boughs of holly, magnolias, or evergreens into the soil; remove these cut boughs and branches in January.
So give thanks for the lovely weather and warmer temperatures expected this coming week, and spend some time in your garden potting up your large urns and containers with plants that will delight you when the cold winter weather arrives.
We in the Washington DC area are fortunate to have a number of dedicated garden gurus to help inform us: Master Gardeners certified by the state and present at Farmer’s Markets; wonderful public gardens such as Green Spring Garden Park, Meadowlark, U.S. Botanic Garden, U.S. Arboretum, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Huntley Meadows, and many more; and garden centers that are interested in promoting good gardening practices as well as sales– such as Merrifield Garden Center, Johnson’s Garden Centers, and Behnke’s Nurseries.
1. Merrifield Garden Center has already begun its free Fall garden seminars held on Saturdays throughout the Fall: this week you can learn about ‘Fall Lawn Care’ at the Merrifield site; ‘Annuals and Perennials for Fall’ at Fair Oaks; and choosing “Ornamental Grasses and their Companion Plants’ at the Gainesville site. I love these seminars–the speakers are informative and the plants right there on site.
Here is a link to the complete calendar:
2. Green Spring Garden Park in Alexandria starts its Fall Basic Gardener Series with ‘Bulbs, Corms and Tubers’ tomorrow, Friday, September 13 at 1:30pm. You can register for this class at Parktakes.
These classes are taught by knowledgeable Master Gardeners who love to interact with beginning gardeners For the full schedule of classes click on this link–the classes are listed on the right hand side of the Green Spring Garden Park Home page: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/
3. Johnson’s Garden Center has a web page with useful tips on gardening. If you can’t attend classes–you can always go to the website for useful information:
Johnson’s News, Events, and Blogs page
The weather is changing! Happy gardening!
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Tagged bulbs, Fall gardening, garden advice, gardening, gardening in the Mid Atlantic region, gardening in Washington DC, Grasses, Green Spring Garden park, Johnson's Garden Center, Lawn care tips, master gardeners, Merrifield Garden Centers, Plant tips, plants
Chelone ( the greek word for turtle pron: key-lone-ay) was the Greek stay-at-home nymph turned into a tortoise for her haughty refusal to attend the wedding of Zeus and Hera. The perennial plant named after her is a lovely Fall bloomer whose showy white or pink flowers have a turtle shaped head that attracts polinators to your garden from late August to October.
Planted in a mass they are strikingly lovely, as can be seen in this photo from Monrovia.
They can be grown in sun or shade, but like their namesake whose home was by a stream, they must be watered regularly if grown in the sun. Chelone have the added bonus of being deer “resistant” –so if deer are a garden problem for you, chelone would be a good choice for Fall blooms.
Plant them with coral bells, epimedium, spiderlilies, cardinal flower and great blue lobelia.
Key benefits: native to U.S.; provide bloom in the Fall; attracts butterflies; naturalizes; tolerates wet soil and shade; deer ‘resistant
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Tagged chelone, deer resistant plants, fall gardens, garden, garden advice, gardening, gardening in the Mid Atlantic region, gardening in Washington DC, native U.S. plants, Plant tips, plants
Flower bed: coreopsis, rudbeckia, rosemary, amsonia, junipers
September can be a busy time for the gardener–renovating lawns, dividing perennials, planting spring blooming bulbs. It is also a good time to take a breath and begin to think about next year’s garden. There are a number of seminars available to lucky Washington area gardeners–some free and some available at a nominal fee.
Merrifield Garden Center will begin its free Fall Garden Seminars. Saturday mornings a different class at each of their 3 locations. I’m a huge fan of these seminars–there are knowledgable and enthusiastic speakers, great gardening ideas and discount coupons for Merrifield plants.
The first of these is Saturday, September 7th. ’Fall Container Gardens w/Karen Rexrode’ at the Merrifield location; ‘How to Create Fresh Flower Bouquets’ at Fair Oaks; and Lawn Alternatives at Gainesville.
I’ll be at the Lawn Alternatives seminar because I’m encouraging my clients to reduce or eliminate their lawns–we just don’t live in the right climate for such chemical intense gardening.
Here is a link to the complete Fall seminar catalog: http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com/Gardening-Seminars/Free-Seminars/Fall-Holiday-Seminar-Schedule.aspx
I am not affiliated with Merrifield Garden Center; I just think their plant selection and staff are excellent resources.
Next Post: Green Spring Garden Park Basic Gardening Series!
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Tagged free gardening classes, free seminars, garden advice, garden seminars, gardening, gardening in the Mid Atlantic region, gardening in Washington DC, Green Spring Garden park, master gardeners, Plant tips, plants