Inducing a reluctant amaryllis to bloom

Given the right care, even older amaryllis can bloom nicely outdoors. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES
Given the right care, even older amaryllis can bloom nicely outdoors. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Q: I have amaryllis in pots that I have tried unsuccessfully to force into bloom during the holidays. They all sprout prolific leaves and look healthy but no flowers appear. Are they just too old? Marlene Fellows, email

A: I think the bulbs are not getting enough solar energy during the year to form a bloom. Amaryllis can handle almost full sunshine. Rather than trying for a Christmas bloom, let your bulbs grow outside all summer long in pots and bring them indoors after the first light frost. Remove the leaves and store the pots for winter in a dark place with no water. Bring them outdoors when it's warm enough to do so in April. Give them water and fertilizer. If they are happy, they will bloom in May. If they don't flower, I would continue the outdoors/indoors/outdoors cycle until they do.

Q: I pruned some rather large limbs from a huge pin oak tree a few days ago. Today almost every cut is "weeping" heavily. Should I paint the wounds? Alan Hudson, Henry County

A: There is no harm at all. The tree's roots are now vigorously pushing sap up to the crown. The bleeding will stop in a few days. There is no need to paint the wound.

Q: I've been amending my garden with compost for more than 10 years. Soil tests every year show P, K, Mg, Ca, and Zn all in the excellent range. My problem is I can't get the pH lower than 7.0. I would like to have it down in the 6.0 - 6.5 range but nothing I add seems to work. Bob Parsons, email

A: I think you are overreacting to the soil pH level. It is true that garden plants grow best in a pH of 6.0 - 6.5 but most can easily tolerate a pH of 7.0. At this point, I think it would be good to switch to no-till gardening. It sounds like your garden soil has plenty of organic matter. If that's the case, you need to allow soil fungi to continue making their tiny, oxygen-filled pores in the soil, which plants love. Tilling destroys this wonderful soil structure. Plant your vegetable seedlings or seeds in small holes you dig in the dirt without causing major soil disturbance.

Q: The community landscape crew used a hedge trimmer to chop off about a third of my healthy, newly-planted Encore azaleas. I presume the spring blooming will not happen but I'm wondering if they will survive this butchering? Roger Klask, Canton

A: If they were healthy when they were pruned, I have no doubt they will survive. Although you will miss the typically heavier spring bloom, Encore azaleas will have several flushes of blooms between spring and fall. As the weather warms up, new sprouts will cover the bare stems left from pruning.

Listen to Walter Reeves’ segments at 6:35 AM on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.