Ask the Garden Expert: How Do I Grow Amaryllis All Year?

Our garden experts covers growing amaryllis year-round, mystery plants, and more!

How do I grow amaryllis year-round without a resting period?

Question: I would like to grow amaryllis year-round without the fall resting time. What are the light, water, and fertilizer requirements? —Caryl Baetjer of Unionville, Pennsylvania

Melinda: If you ask several gardeners this question you will likely receive several different recommendations for re-blooming amaryllis. Most do involve a rest period. Here’s what I suggest. Remove the flower stalk once the flowers fade and add a flowering plant fertilizer. Move the plants outdoors in summer for best results (a sunny window works, too). During the warmer months, amaryllis plants generate the energy needed for new growth and flowers. In the winter, move it to a slightly cooler, brightly lit location. At this point, your plant likely has just a few leaves, so water sparingly. If you are lucky, new flower stalks appear in January or February. The key is finding a method that works best for you, your growing conditions and the plant. (Read more: Grow the Biggest and Best Amaryllis)

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mystery succulent in pink potphoto credit: Betty Fowler (B&B reader)
photo credit: Betty Fowler (B&B reader)

Question: This succulent has me stumped. What kind is it? —Betty Fowler of Redding, California

Melinda: All the little plantlets, or small plants, that grow on the edges of the leaves inspired one of this plant’s common names, mother of thousands. It is also known as devil’s backbone and alligator plant, and botanically as Bryophyllum daigremontianum. As a succulent, it grows best in full sun and well-draining soils. When the plantlets drop to the soil, they root and grow. It’s not a problem indoors, but when grown outdoors in frost-free areas, the plantlets may become a nuisance. And beware: it is toxic to people, cats and dogs. (Read more: Drought Tolerant Succulent Superstars)

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colorful croton leavesphoto credit: paulbr75/Pixabay
photo credit: paulbr75/Pixabay

Question: I bought a croton several years ago because I liked the different colors in the leaves. Now my plant is doing well, but it generates big green leaves. Why aren’t they colorful? —Larry Smith of Hudson, New Hapshire

Melinda: Crotons display the best leaf color when grown outdoors or in a sunny window indoors. All plants contain three pigments—chlorophyll (green), carotinoids (yellow and yellow-oranges) and anthocyanins (red and purple). The carotinoids and anthocyanins mask some or all of the green chlorophyll in plants with colorful leaves. In low light conditions the green chlorophyll pigment becomes more pronounced than the other two pigments. Move your plant to a sunnier window and you should see an improvement in the leaf color.

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Melinda Myers
Melinda Myers is a nature and gardening writer whose specialty is attracting wildlife, especially birds, to the garden. She contributes regularly to the magazine Birds & Blooms, and lectures widely on creating gardens that please both human and avian visitors.