Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Poor Amaryllis

Recently I got it in my head that I needed to garden. I had purchased a few bags of potting soil intending to repot my lime tree and a few other plants that had gotten too big for the britches...I mean pots.

Let me backtrack just a see, I can't garden. Or rather, I'm learning to garden and the plants tend to giggle and scoff at my attempts. But a long while ago when we bought the townhouse we discovered that the previous owner left a multitude of potted plants on the back patio. Instant garden that I completely and utterly ignored. Way back then I had no interest in plants. And because I am lazy to boot, I left the containers right where they were and went about setting up house. A month or so later as spring fully arrived, I was delighted to find that one of the planters had some pretty flowers blooming. I was soon to discover via my mother's wisdom, the huge flowers were in fact amaryllis. I didn't know I like them. Turns out I do. I loved those flowers something fierce.

I know they're hard to see here, but I combed through every photo I had looking for a decent shot of the flowers. Apparently I never actually took just a picture of them. They were caught here in behind the girls during a Easter morning pinata frenzy!

Again, hard to pull out clear details, but I had pink, red, and white flowers.

Oh how little my angels were. These are circa 2009 three years after we moved in.
Despite my love for the plant, I took a strict hands off approach to my care. Sure, during the dry months I threw some water on them occasionally. Once in a while I pulled out the dead leaves, debris, and weeds that clogs around the bulbs. Ninety percent of the time this is what the container looked liked:

When we moved in 2011, I dumped every other container of soil out and took just the pots with us. Except the amaryllis. Those I left alone. I made Scott take a special trip back to the old house just to pick them up because I wanted to keep them.I swore up, down, left, and right that I would become a gardener. I had space now to do so and I knew I could take care of my amaryllis.

And I did.

Sort of.

Here is last Easter. I hid an egg in the amaryllis. See how tall and filled out they are? Those four blooms - two full and two just getting ready to bloom - were the only ones I saw last year. This year? After the autumn dying barely any of the bulbs had any growth at all.

Sure there's some weeds in there...but that adds nutrients and junk, right?

Jump back to last week and my grand plans for repotting. I decided to repot the amaryllis thinking that the bulbs weren't doing well because they were overcrowded. Overcrowded is a massive understatement. My careful neglect over the years had led to nearly two dozen bulbs in that tiny container.

As I was pulling them apart, being exceptionally careful with the roots, I noticed that every single bulb was, to varying degrees, splotched with red spots and patches. I was fairly sure that this was not a normal thing so onto the interent I went to find an answer. In all of the pages I searched mention of a bulb killing fungus that made the Audrey 2 look nice was made but I could find no photos of this dreaded disease.

Where the internet fails, elderly neighbors prevail. I took one of the bulbs and marched across the street where last year, I knew, a gazillion amaryllis bloomed in carefully planned reckless disarray. Mrs. Elderly Neighbor took one look at the bulb I carried and I swear she might have reached for a cross to ward me off!

"Oh, my!" she said as I held it out to her.

"So...that's bad, right?" I asked still just a bit hopeful that my amaryllis could be saved.

"I would say so." She shook her head, "Nothing to do for it. Get rid of all the bulbs and dirt."

"The dirt too?"

"Yes," she said, "it's all been infected."

I sighed, thanked her gratefully, and trudged back to the house to dispose of the bulbs. Stupid things can't even go into the compost.

A pile of bulbs and roots. In the top left of the mass of bulbs you can see one clearly discolored.

But as I was going through them I found three bulbs that only had a couple of little red spots on them. I smiled and pulled out three half-gallon pots. With new soil and individual containers, maybe, just maybe, I'll get a few blooms and I can try to save the seeds and start again.

Meet the Good-ryllis: Angelo, Frankie, and Vinnie. Yeah. I named them after mobsters but it's okay because they're deadly.

Assuming, of course, that the fungus won't affect the seeds.

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