Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
February, 2011
Regional Report

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Transplant vigorous baby strawberries from established beds.

Adding Holiday Amaryllises and Poinsettias To Your Garden

An amaryllis that's just finished blooming can be grown as an evergreen, indoors or out, through the fall and encouraged to bloom again next winter. The bloomed-out stalk can be cut off about an inch above where it emerges from the bulb or allowed to dry up naturally -- this allows the plant to store energy for the next season of bloom. Set the plant in a warm, sunny place, water generously, and fertilize regularly through August. Then let the plant rest a bit, with no fertilizer and only enough moisture to keep the soil barely moist. Be sure to not let the plant dry out at any time, however, or the growth cycle will be upset and the next round of bloom may be skipped or delayed. In September, move the plant to a spot that's sunny but where daytime temperatures are in the 70's and night time temperatures are above 55. Begin watering and fertilizing with a high phosphorus (P) and high potash (K) fertilizer (the last two numbers of the N-P-K trio), and watch for buds. You may even have two or three separate bloom stalks.

Most of the modern poinsettias in all the exquisite color variations are produced under specific greenhouse conditions, so they just can't handle adapting to the outdoor garden. The exceptions are the regular, old single red ones. Once the peatmoss or other extremely-well-draining non-soil mix is removed from their roots, the plants can be transplanted into more moisture-holding soil mix in containers or directly into garden soil to begin a new life. Trim back the colored bracts to encourage new root and top growth, and water moderately. Keep an eye on new growth throughout the summer's heat. One note on placement in the garden -- whether in containers or planted in the ground, keep poinsettias away from nightlights since they need the increased nighttime darkness to spur them into color.

Both amaryllis and poinsettia may not color up next year, as they're still acclimating themselves to the new world of seasons! They should perform just fine the following year!

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