• Judy Kirschner

Ask a Gardener (February 2021)


What should we do with our amaryllis and paper white bulbs when they are finished blooming?

Judy's answer:

Paper whites: you have a choice--toss them and buy new ones next year. Or, if you want to save them, remove the flowers, and then let the leaves die back before being removed. They are replenishing the bulb. Keep watering. Plant the bulbs in stones in the garden or in a pot. They might flower next year but more likely to take 2-3 years. Also feed with bulb food as directed on the package.

Amaryllis: the answer is a bit more complicated. If you want to save them, remove the flower and stalk. If grown in water, plant in good potting soil, leaving about one inch space around the bulb. Feed with liquid houseplant fertilizer; give some sun; and water a little. In mid-August, start to hold back water. Allow it to die back and then store in a dark dry place for about 2 months. Take it out, repot, put in bright light, water as needed and let it start to grow. I have tried this and when I did not forget them, I only had mixed success. Last year I repotted and put them out under a bush. I watered occasionally, and 5 out of 7 made a flower in the middle of the summer. After that I ignored them, they died back and now are all starting to sprout. I will repot, feed and see what happens! Question: What can mitigate leaf curl on citrus?

Judy's answer: Citrus leaf curl occurs in late summer through early fall. That is from environmental problems, such as drought stress. Water more. A drip hose wrapped around under the tree helps. If you get the young shoots with curl just cut them off. Some leaf curl is from insects. Look under the leaves. Yellow sticky traps are good for white fly and some sucking insects. You can also try a strong spray from the hose. Insecticidal soap and neem oil are also used. If you have trails inside the curled leaves that is from leaf miners. Blue sticky traps can catch the moth before it lays eggs. But if you see leaf miner trails no need for any treatment. They really are not a problem.

Question: I read that I should not trim back my hydrangea macrophylla, so I simply keep stripping off the leaves that brown. Is this the right method?

Judy's answer:

Oakleaf hydrangea and macrophylla bloom on old wood. You want to prune in the fall after flowering. Usually prune above the third node. But you can prune any hydrangea for shape and health anytime...prune out dead and diseased wood, as well as crossing and crowded branches. Then you can shape. You can prune down to 1/3 the size of the plant. Just be aware that doing this at the wrong time of year will reduce some of the buds but it will give you a prettier, revitalized, healthier shaped plant. I have found hydrangea to be very resilient plants.

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