Tall amaryllises — I heard from two readers who are marveling at how big their amaryllises have grown this January. Mary Frances Skinner is growing bulbs she says were handed down from her great-great-great-great-grandma, and the stalks reached 42 inches this year. Phyllis Watters says her two have grown to 39 and 32 inches tall. A friend of Mary Frances’ says she thinks it’s because of cloudy days. Extension agent Bob Neier says that could be true, because the plants will stretch for the light if they don’t have enough, and thereby grow taller.
Phyllis says hers also are a more vivid color than ever, which she attributes to fertilizing. Here’s her routine: When the flowers are done blooming, remove them. Keep watering the pot, then take it outside when the weather warms in the spring, and plant the pot in the ground up to the lip. Fertilize with Miracle-Gro three times during the growing season. In September or October, before the temperature drops to freezing, bring the pot in, put it in the closet, and neglect it. When stalks start pushing up through the soil (or, to spur growth on, after a couple months of cold treatment), bring the pot out, and place it in a tub of warm water halfway up the pot until the soil is saturated. Place the pot in a spot where it gets good light. Once the soil begins to dry a bit, fertilize with just a bit of Miracle-Gro. Stake the stalks as needed with a dowel or other support.
Seed-starting calendar — To figure out when to start seeds indoors, pick the date when you plan to plant the plants in the garden, and count back the number of weeks necessary to grow the plants from seeds, Ward Upham of K-State writes in this week’s Horticulture 2015 newsletter. The seed packet often tells you how many days it takes. For example, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are usually transplanted in late March or early April. It takes eight weeks for the plants to reach transplant size. So the seeds should be started in early February. That means they can basically be started now. Pepper seeds should be started in mid-March for planting out around May 9, and tomato seeds around March 21 for transplanting in early May.
Wildlife Rescue exhibit talk — Resha Parajuli, exhibits program coordinator at Exploration Place, will be at Botanica on Wednesday to give a lunchtime lecture on the Wildlife Rescue traveling exhibit that opened last weekend at Exploration Place. The lecture, at 12:15 p.m., is included in Botanica admission. Lunch from Syl’s will be for sale.
Family Fun Fair at Botanica — Botanica will have its annual free winter fun fair for families from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 7. Kids will be able to take part in hands-on activities, and admission to the gardens and activities is free for everyone.