Orlando Sentinel

How and when to fertilize amaryllis

- Tom MacCubbin The Plant Doctor Tom MacCubbin is an urban horticultu­rist emeritus with the University of Florida Cooperativ­e Extension Service. Write him: Orlando Sentinel, P.O. Box 2833, Orlando FL 32802. Email: TomMac1996@ aol.com. Blog with Tom at Orlan

Question: Amaryllis flowering time is about over in my yard. What fertilizer should I use to have them ready to bloom next year?

Answer: Any general landscape fertilizer should make these plants happy applied once now and again in August and early October. Many like to use bone meal alone for the phosphorus, but it is not a complete fertilizer and is very slow to release the nutrients. Restrictio­ns that prohibit fertilizin­g in some localities during summer are complicati­ng good care of many landscape plants. If this is the case in your area, use any slow-release product made for flowers grown in the ground or containers once in late May and again in early October, following label instructio­ns.

Q: My family would like to give growing a pineapple a try. How do we start one from the top and what is the care needed?

A: Get ready for about a three-year experience. All the fun starts by twisting off the pineapple top from the fruit, removing a few layers of leaves and then plunging the base about 3-4 inches deep in a container of potting soil. Keep moist and in a shady to filtered sun location. In about six to eight weeks, you should have a plant starting roots.

Gradually move your new pineapple plant to a slightly shady to sunny site. Eventually, a full sun site would be best. A pineapple plant can be grown in the ground or in a large container with potting soil. Keep moist and fertilize monthly March through November with a liquid fertilizer or a slow-release product, following

label instructio­ns. Provide winter protection, as plants are damaged by freezing temperatur­es. In about two to three years, the plant should flower, usually in March, and have a readyto-eat fruit five months later.

Q: I am looking for a small hedge plant to replace boxwood in an English garden setting. What would you suggest?

A: Number one on my list is the dwarf yaupon holly. The leaves and plant shape make it look very much like boxwood. It can be sheared to keep the neat hedge look.

One more important factor is yaupon hollies have nematode resistance to prevent root damage often found with boxwood.

Q: Our split-leaf philodendr­on made it through the winter but has some lower yellow leaves. Will they regreen if I fertilize the plant?

A: Fertilize the philodendr­on but only expect green leaves to appear on new growths. Those older leaves likely suffered too much winter damage and are best removed. Make sure the soil is acidic for best philodendr­on growth.

You may want to use an azalea-type fertilizer that tends to keep soils acidic and supplies minor nutrients your plant needs. If your plant was yellowish before winter, also apply a minor nutrient product to supply the iron that can help keep green leaves.

Q: We are trimming our crotons and would like to root the clippings. What is the proper technique?

A: New croton shoots should root rapidly at this time of the year. Make the cuttings from tip portions of the plants 4-6 inches long. Remove a lower leaf or two and then dip the cut ends in rooting powder. Crotons can root in potting soil but more success is often obtained in coarse vermiculit­e. Fill containers with either and stick the cut ends two inches deep. Keep moist and surround the containers of cutting with clear plastic to root in a shady site. Mist the cuttings once or twice daily. Rooting should begin in four weeks and plants ready for individual containers in about 12 weeks.

Q: We have planted several hydrangeas in our landscape and want

to use an oak leaf mulch. Will this be acidic enough for our plants?

A: Don’t be too concerned about a mulch of any type changing the acidity of your soil. Oak leaves over time may affect the soil pH but slowly. If you want a blue hydrangea, you need to keep the soil acidic. This is best done with additions of soil or agricultur­al sulfur made to adjust the acidity. Have your soil tested and make sulfur additions, following the test recommenda­tion. Pine back fines available at garden centers can help maintain an acidic pH. If needed, this could be used as a mulch. If you want a pink hydrangea, the soil needs to be adjusted to an alkaline pH of about 7.

Q: A shiny leaf, grassy-looking weed that produces a brownish flower grows in my St. Augustine lawn. What is this weed and is there a control?

A: Do a little detective work, and if the leaves are in whorls of threes and the flower stem is triangular, you have purple nutsedge. Several sedges grow in local lawns and they tend to be the greenest, skinniest and most upright of the weeds.

Your purple nutsedge grows from bulb-like portions called nuts in the ground and sends up the purple to reddish-brown flowers. Most garden centers offer several sedge controls for use in St. Augustine and other lawns. The products tend to be slow-acting but give control in about a month when you follow label instructio­ns for your lawn type.

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 ?? TOM MACCUBBIN ?? Use any general landscape fertilizer for amaryllis.
TOM MACCUBBIN Use any general landscape fertilizer for amaryllis.

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