1. (Feb.) I received an amaryllis for Christmas. Will it bloom again?
Amaryllis will bloom again with the proper care. Amaryllis are from the tropics. This region does not have seasons like we do, only a rainy and dry season. The plant grows vigorously (vegetatively) during the rainy season, then enters a dormancy or rest period during the dry season, and resumes growth accompanied by a flowering stalk when the rainy season resumes. In order to get your plant to bloom again, try to mimic this tropical wet-dry cycle. The vegetative growth period is critical for the amaryllis bulb to store up enough energy to bloom the next season. Around here, consider the growing period to be May through August. During this time, keep the plant moist; do not allow it to dry out between watering. Keep the plant in a sunny location (dappled shade, not blazing NM sun will do). Fertilize ever 2 to 3 irrigations with a houseplant fertilizer. In early September, reduce watering enough to allow the foliage to die back. Store the plant in a cool shady place (55-60 degrees F) for six weeks. Don't allow the soil to become completely dry, but water very sparingly. After six weeks, move the plant to a warm, sunny location and increase watering slightly. The flower stalk will appear. Once foliage appears, resume watering and fertilizing as in the previous growing season. Repeat the process every year and re-pot the Amaryllis every few years.
2. (Feb.) How do I get started making compost?
Composting is quite simple, but the options may seem overwhelming. When we compost we are simply facilitating fast decomposition of materials. There is heap composting (making large piles of yard and kitchen waste), pit or trench composting (putting kitchen waste in small holes in your garden and covering with soil), and vermicomposting (enlisting the help of worms). Which method you chose depends on the space available to you and how much waste you have access to. For people who live in apartments or have very small yards, vermicomposting makes sense. This only requires a small bin. If you have lots of yard waste, a compost pile makes sense. For a pile, accumulate enough yard and kitchen waste to make a 3x3x3 ft pile. Try to balance the carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich materials in a 30:1 ratio (by weight). In other words, put mostly dry crunchy stuff (like dry leaves) with a little green luscious stuff (like leftover lettuce). Keep the pile moist (covering it helps with this) and turn it often. This pile will eventually decompose to a dark-colored pleasant-smelling material that is unrecognizable as the original material. There is a lot more to learn about composting and the problems you could encounter. For more information, visit: http://bernalilloextension.nmsu.edu/mastercomposter/
Vermicomposting - http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-164.pdf
Backyard Composting - http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-110.pdf
3. (Feb.) What vegetable seeds can I plant now?
February is too early in the year to plant many vegetables sensitive to freezing temperatures. However, it is not too early to start planting certain garden vegetables. Even for the cold hardy vegetables, wait until Feb 15th to sow seeds. If you are not using any season-extension techniques, such as floating or hoop-supported row covers, your options are hardy vegetables such as peas, carrots, spinach, leeks, onions, parsnips, celery, turnips, and radishes.
4. (Feb.) I need a pre-emergent to control spurge around flagstone that has desired grass around them.
Positive identification of the spurge is necessary. I would require a photograph or a sample to verify the ID. Once the ID is verified, the next step is to understand the site in which the spurge is growing. This question does not provide enough information to choose an herbicide. We need to know what kind of grass is the “desired” grass. Once we figure this out, a pre-emergent herbicide may be available that is labeled for use on the particular grass in the particular landscape setting. To answer a question like this, the County Agent should be consulted. The Agent would need the information I previously mentioned and she will input this information into several pesticide databases to find out if an appropriate chemical option is available.
A non-chemical approach to spurge management is to promote a thick, healthy stand of grass. The spurge will be out-competed in this situation. Also, these weeds are annuals. Hand-pulling on a regular basis (before seed formation) will be quite effective at reducing next year’s population of spurge.
5. (Feb.) Purchased “Elephant Ears” from a nursery in the Mid-west. They are rated to Zone 7. Will they survive here?
First of all, I will assume that we are talking about Alocasia spp., which is commonly referred to as elephant ears. This plant will not do well if planted outside in Albuquerque. Albuquerque is considered to be zone 7, but there are a few other things working against the elephant ears. These plants don’t tolerate freezing, dry and windy conditions, and they prefer acid soils. Enough said. We have all of the conditions the plant does not tolerate.
6. (Feb.) Can miniature roses be grown outside, and are they winter hardy?
Yes. Miniatures can be grown outside in Albuquerque. In fact, they withstand the cold weather better than hybrid teas.