Monday, December 06, 2010

Inside edition

Although this past weekend's brisk temperatures and sunny skies were terrific for some end-of-season outdoor clean-up and top-dressing, a few hours had to be devoted to preparing indoor plants for winter bloom.

I should have cut off all this lush foliage and set the amaryllises for dormancy about six weeks ago. I pretty much follow the same drill every year.  My biggest challenge is always rot. The onslaught is unending.  I feel like an embattled Churchill in 1940: "We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds.  We shall fight in the fields . . . "

This "Temptation" bulb had produced lots of leaves, thrown off a plump off-set, and looked firm--but the papery layers of skin were soft and covered with brownish-red patches.  I stripped off what I could and cut out the rest.  Usually, I am not so ready with the knife but I figure there's nothing to lose.

To cheat out the long wait for these cooling bulbs, I also planted a new "Novella"amaryllis and set it to warm by a radiator in a south-facing window.

I also began the weekly cycle of paperwhite planting. "Ziva" are my favorite: their fragrance, overpowering to some, is perfection to a diminished sniffer of scents like myself. I have reported on an alcohol-inspired way to ensure short stems, but I'm starting the season with long stems supported by a tall vase.  Just add glass pebbles and water.

To ensure good root growth, I start the bulbs in a cool, dark place. For a few weeks, they are resting in the closet of coldest room of this cold house. (What, everyone doesn't set the thermostat to 60 degrees and wear a knitted cap indoors?)  Waiting, waiting, waiting . . .  

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