Ask Dr. Barb
More fun
Comment or question?
Print editions

Leafy planted in soil and growing a new leaf 

Leafy sends up a new leaf. It's a sign of improved health for a bulb finally planted in soil after having flowered every year on water alone since 2015. After this year's flower, Leafy, my pet 'Double King' amaryllis bulb, again grew only one leaf.

This being the second year that happened, I decided last month that it was time to return the bulb to soil. Since 2014, Leafy has been grown indoors in a water-filled vase. The bulb has flowered every year since then in March or April. After an unfortunate attempt to nourish it by putting a little fertilizer in the vase water last year, the distressed bulb needed to grow new roots, and it has only been able to produce a single leaf after flowering. Even without the fertilizer faux pas, the bulb was regrowing its roots this year as well.  

So, in an effort to end the distress, on June 14 I pulled out a recycled nursery pot that was just a little deeper than the bulb. I grabbed some recycled potting soil that I had saved from last year (it had grown Burpee's potted organic herbs).

I held Leafy over the pot, just slightly above the bottom, and poured the soil in around the bulb and its roots, leaving the top exposed.

I watered and placed Leafy back in its usual place on a small table by the sliding glass door. I touched the leaf every few days and watched for wilting. It did not wilt, but the tip turned yellow. I continued to check on the leaf, but not as often as I had initially. 

This morning, Leafy rewarded my efforts to improve its health: there is a single new leaf growing up from the bulb's top. I did not add any fertilizer because of the fertilizer trouble when Leafy lived on water. Since a second leaf has emerged, I might now look into gentle fertilizers meant for amaryllis bulbs. I am going to keep the bulb in soil all year to see if it will flower again from the soil.

Since I do believe that plants respond to our feelings and, maybe words, I praised Leafy and gave it a nice stroke for growing strong enough to produce another leaf. It is my beloved pet bulb, after all!




Companion plants for roses: Top English rosarian's A-to-V list of options

David Austin's deep pink English rose 'Gertrude Jekyll' shown with blue Nepeta (catmint) and tall maroon-throated white Digitalis 'Pam's Choice' (foxglove). 'Gertrude Jekyll,' a fragrant, repeat blooming shrub rose, grows to 5 feet tall and 3-1/2 feet wide.What to plant with roses.

It is a quandary familiar to many rose-loving gardeners, and answers can be found in the life's work of English rosarian Michael Marriott. 

As a garden designer, his life has been a literal bed of roses. He has designed rose-filled private and public gardens including the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park

Marriott, senior rosarian for David Austin Roses in Albrighton, England, is known for his formal and informal planting of dense borders and beds of purely roses or roses mixed with perennials.

“The joy is in pairing flowers that play off one another, when seen side by side in full bloom," he says in a written release for David Austin English Roses. "The goal is to heighten peak bloom experiences."

As one might expect, Marriott loves roses. He delights in creating mixed borders with plant partners that enhance roses in bloom. He most often prefers sweeps of color – both complementary and contrasting – to create movement and lead the eye.

Marriott, whose suggested list of companion plants for roses follows, admits to a special fondness for the romantic informality of English roses, which he enhances by pairing them with cottage garden favorites and small-flowered plants with the look of wildflowers. His border designs feature massed plantings of like-with-like for impact and an overall calming effect.

As an organic gardener, he incorporates plants that are attractive to beneficial insects likely to devour aphids and other pests.

Click to read more ...


Five-year-old, water-grown amaryllis in bloom and in distress 

Updated on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 08:23PM by Registered CommenterKimberly L. Jackson

Leafy, with its flower in a bottle vase, after the unfortunate falling accident

Yesterday morning I entered the kitchen before breakfast to find Leafy lying on the floor with a broken neck.


The entire bulb, with its long stem and single open flower, had fallen off its vase. The stem apparently snapped on  impact.


With sadness, I surveyed the plant, seeing that only a slender thread held flower to stem. I had to separate it, and the untimely cut flower on a too short stem is now in water within a fancy olive oil bottle.


The tall, vacant stem, still rising majestically from the bulb, will need to be cut away to facilitate leaf growth.


Thankfully, the break happened on the stem itself, instead of with one of the flowers. I'm very happy that the flowers were not damaged and  can still be enjoyed.


I do usually cut off the flower right at the base near the bulb's top, but only after both flowers are fully open.


The injury came just three days after the first flower started to open. With that flower fully open, the second bud has grown to almost equal size and, it has started to open and likely will be in full bloom before the week ends.


Click to read more ...


Forcing amaryllis bulbs in water: Repeat bloom in progress for a fifth year

The 2019 flower bud is preparing to open (shown right), nearly a month earlier than last year, when my pet bulb, Leafy, was in full bloom on April 28. This will be the bulb's fifth year of bloom as an indoor, water-grown  houseplant. 

Click to read more ...


Amaryllis grown in water since 2014 prepares for another bloom season

Water-grown amaryllis blooms for fourth year.

Thank goodness for date stamps on photos. I would probably not have a good handle on the bloom cycle of my pet amaryllis, Leafy, without them.

At left is a photo of Leafy taken last year on April 28. While the flower structure wasn't perfect, who could find fault with a bulb that managed to push out TWO large flowers afer having grown so long -- since the winter of 2014 -- in water alone?

Leafy is an amazing bulb that has, surprisingly, managed to send up a new flower stalk this year (see below) after having been able to produce only one leaf after it bloomed last year.

Most of its energy went into recovery and replacing its entire root system after I made the mistake of feeding it a tiny bit of Miracle-Gro fertilizer after the flowers

Click to read more ...