When the amaryllis, Hippeastrum striatum, flowers are blooming it’s time to be a bee. #FridayFlower

Being a bee today! Happily, it’s amaryllis season again, so I’ve been pollinating the flowers of this bulb by hand.

I look forward to this favourite horticultural activity every year! ūüôā

Also looking forward to harvesting the seeds they’ll produce in a few weeks time, and then sowing those offspring in order to grow more amaryllis babies.

The cycle continues!

More on this amaryllis: Its botanical name is Hippeastrum striatum. ¬†It’s believed to be one of the first hybrid amaryllis, with a modern botanical history dating back to the late 1700’s.

Sometimes called a ‘Barbados lily’, this flowering herbaceous perennial bulb plant hails from the Amaryllidaceae family, and it’s native to the southern and eastern regions of Brazil.

It was originally brought to the UK upon its discovery back in 1759, and first listed in the Library at Kew in 1789.

Discovering more history on this amaryllis is very exciting!

I only wish I could share this information with my late great Uncle Allan from whom I inherited the plant. He always wanted to know more about the amaryllis because it originated from his grandmother, who incidentally was my Great-great Grandmother.

But, that’s not going to happen now, so I’m just grateful to be its current caretaker, and happy to continue, (in some small way), to propagate and promote the heritage and lineage of this lovely plant.

For tips on how to propagate your amaryllis, or if you’re seeking some information on how to keep an Amaryllis healthy and happy from year to year, I’ve written a more in-depth blog post here.

Happy Flowering Friday, everyone!

Through the looking glass – #WordlessWednesday

Hippeastrum striatum

Flowers in bloom on WordlessWednesday – Orchids and Amaryllis brighten up a dreary February day

Gardening experiments on the windowsill

With the proper amount of sunlight, basil (pictured here), and other culinary herbs can be grown year round on a windowsill.

The ability to pinch fresh foliage from herbs grown in my kitchen for flavouring recipes during winter months has become less of an experiment and more of a necessity in our house!

Beyond¬†that, there are many simple¬†gardening experiments¬†people of all ages¬†might¬†enjoy.¬†Many of us may¬†recall planting bean seeds in cup with wet paper towel¬†during grade school in an effort¬†to see how they’d grow.

When the mood strikes, I plant seeds from fruits and veggies purchased from the grocery store, especially during winter, just to see if anything will happen!

That’s where the¬†potato in the photo comes in. I simply¬†cut it in half and placed it¬†on the dish¬†in a bit of water. Since it’s actually sprouting, I’ll¬†go a step further this spring¬†and plant it outside in a container¬†to see if¬†it will produce¬†an actual crop!

The other picture here is¬†a container by¬†our kitchen sink where I’m growing¬†Amaryllis seedlings.

A few weeks ago I was enjoying some of the sweetest of Clementine oranges from Spain. Those delicious fruit had many seeds in them so I (somewhat mindlessly), stuck a few seeds into the soil. In all honesty, I completely forgot about them until I went to water my plants the other day. I saw the sprouts emerging  and was absolutely tickled. Next thing you know I began to envision a lush tree full of those lovely fruit growing in my dining room, and me plucking them at will off the branches. Talk about an active imagination!

However, with a positive outlook and an open mind,¬†I’ll likely continue experimenting with these¬†kinds of benign¬†windowsill gardening trials, and encourage my¬†fellow gardeners to give¬†them a try, too!

How to grow, pollinate and harvest seeds from an amaryllis – It’s very easy to do!!

amaryllis-vittata-february-2015pistil-and-stigma-for-pollinating-the-amaryllis-karen-sloanPollinating and saving seeds from Amaryllis is very simple. All you need is a light touch.

Step 1: Collect some pollen, (gently), on your finger from the stamen. (see next photo)
Step 2: Dust it lightly on the stigma.
This should be done when the stigma (Pistil) is completely open.

Just a note: Some people use a paint brush to transfer the pollen, but this is¬†not a requirement if you’re very gentle.

 

 

I don’t pollinate¬†any flower with¬†its own pollen. I’ll use the¬†pollen from one flower to pollinate¬†another .

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Unripe seed pod

This is a seed pod that develops not long after, from the pollinated flower that dies back.

Let it mature and turn brown. Then the seed head is ready to harvest.

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Seed pod is ready to harvest.

 

 

 

 

Many people ask me how to bring an Amaryllis¬† into bloom again…¬† Here’s my advice:

Don’t dig up your bulbs and stick them in the¬†closet in the fall.¬† Don’t do it. It doesn’t happen that way in nature!¬†Why anyone started¬†promoting¬†such fiction,¬†I’ll never know.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how much¬†this myth¬†irritates me, and every year I see¬†gardening articles¬†perpetuating this falsehood, repeating it¬†verbatim like parrots,¬†likely by writers who¬†haven’t actually accomplished what they’re proposing you to do..

Because of that, it’s no wonder so many¬†people tell me they’ve¬†given up¬†growing these beauties and can’t get a bulb to re-flower the next year. Purely¬†because something so simple has been made to seem¬†so very complicated….¬†There’s my rant for today!

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Freshly harvested, plump amaryllis seeds

In any case, bulbs have an internal clock that works very well, with or without our help.

As long as the flower stalks are allowed to die back naturally after flowering, and there has been sufficient water, light and food over the course of the year, (I only give them a bit of very diluted coffee or tea once a month), then you have the secret to getting them to flower again.

amaryllis-wfsMy amaryllis is 130 years old.

It was my originally my¬†great-great grandmother’s plant, a true heirloom,¬†and I cherish it!

It blooms every year, and sometimes twice. I can tell you, it has NEVER seen the inside of a closet!

Treat it as you would any houseplant, all year long, but ease up on the watering in November.

Don’t let your plant completely dry out, but water it once¬†per month until¬†a flower bud starts to emerge. Then¬†water every 10 days or so. After the flowers finish, let the stalks die back naturally.¬†This is very important as this is what¬†provides the bulb with the energy to produce a flower next year…¬†

If you don’t like the look of¬†the plant while it’s in this semi-dormant state,¬†put it in a room where it’s not so visible. Leaves will die back too, and watering should be lessened again ‘til¬† mid March when the sun gets higher in the sky, and you’ll see an abundance of¬†new foliage. Water more often, as the cycle has¬†begun again.

Amaryllis vittatum - Wall Flower Studio 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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