Let heaven and nature sing! – Merry Christmas!
Christmas tree recycling – As soon as your Christmas tree takes the turn toward crispy, it’s time to recycle it at one of Sedgwick County’s drop-off sites. Whether you recycle or not, you can also help yourself to any mulch that’s available there from the chipping of the trees. Be sure to remove all decorations before leaving a tree. Here are the locations:
In Wichita: Boston Park, 6655 E. Zimmerly; Buffalo Park, 10209 Hardtner; College Hill United Methodist Church, First and Erie; Earhart Environmental Magnet School, 4401 N. Arkansas; Edgemoor Park, 5815 E. Ninth St.; Extension Education Center, 7001 W. 21st St.; Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29th St. North; Old Cowtown Museum, 1865 Museum Blvd.; Osage Park, 2121 W. 31st St. South; South Linwood Park, Hydraulic and Mount Vernon.
Outside Wichita: Cheney, East South Avenue and Garfield; Clearwater, Aquatic Center parking lot; Colwich, 115 N. Third; Derby, 2700 E. Madison; Garden Plain, at the water tower; Kechi, 107 Sioux; Maize, 201 S. Park; Mount Hope, 400 S. Thomas; Mulvane, 117 E. Main; Park City, 6801 N. Hydraulic; Valley Center, Veterans Park.
Question of the week – Do you have a different way of recycling your tree? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amaryllis bulbs – The amaryllis is a tender bulb that is ready to bloom when it is purchased (or received), Ward Upham of K-State says. “The plants can produce three to four blooms on a 1- to 2-foot stem,” Upham says. “Often, a second flower stalk follows the first at about the time the flowers on the first stem fade. The leaves usually start to appear when the flowers begin to open.
“Amaryllis bulbs can be huge – approaching the size of a grapefruit. The larger the bulb, the larger the flowers and the more expensive the bulb. Regardless of size, amaryllis likes tight quarters. Place in a pot only 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the bulb. About half of the bulb should remain exposed. Hold the bulb so the roots hang down into the pot, and add potting mix. Firm the mix around the roots carefully so that they are not snapped off. Water thoroughly and place the plant in a warm, sunny location. Amaryllis likes day temperatures in the 70s and night temperatures in the 60s.
“The flower bud may start to appear right away or the plant may remain dormant for a period of time, but eventually all mature bulbs do bloom. Move the plant to a cooler location and out of direct sunlight when the flower buds begin to show color so the flowers last longer. Amaryllis can remain in bloom for about a month.
“Flowers should be cut off after blooming to keep the plant from expending energy to form seeds. Place the plant back in a sunny location until it is warm enough to be placed outside.”
Once outside, “sink the pot in the soil in an area that has dappled shade. The plant can be gradually moved to sunnier locations until it receives full sun for a half day. Continue to fertilize with a balanced houseplant fertilizer as you would a normal houseplant. Bring the pot in before first frost and place in a dark location. Withhold all water so the leaves have a chance to dry completely. Leaves can then be cut off close to the top of the bulb. Amaryllis can often be left in the same pot for several years but will eventually need repotting. Again, choose a pot that is only 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the bulb and repeat the process described above.
“Offsets are normally produced by amaryllis and can be given their own pots if desired. These small bulbs have a concave side when removed but develop a round shape when given their own space. They grow quickly and can be mature enough to flower in a couple of years.”
Botanica and Illuminations schedule – Botanica will be closed today and Christmas Day. It will reopen Monday, and the Illuminations holiday lights event will run through Dec. 31. Hours are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children; if adults bring two canned goods for the Kansas Food Bank, they can get in for the children’s admission price.
Botanica will be closed Jan. 1 through Jan. 8. It will reopen Jan. 9 for regular winter hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
– Annie Calovich