Ask the Gardener: Peace lily, amaryllis and planting trees

Posted on: December 23, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

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(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)

peace lily

Question 1: Peace lily

Sherrill: I have had this peace lily for two years, and it has never bloomed. I have tried watering with Miracle-Gro without any success. I have tried not watering. In the past weeks it has been looking very droopy — I suspect I over-watered it — so yesterday I repotted it with new Miracle-Gro potting soil. It wasn’t root bound, so I put it back in the same pot. I have been putting it in a sunny window to try and perk it up. It usually lives in my living room with a fairly large window covered by a sheer curtain and gets morning sun.

I obviously don’t have much of a green thumb, and this plant was sent home with me from a funeral because I am the only family member without cats who would destroy it. I think it would have been better off in a cat household! So, now I always feel pressure to keep this plant alive! What can I do to bring it around?

Doug: Don’t worry so much about your peace lily blooming. Often times they will grow as a houseplant for years without blooming again. The photos show a plant that is either over- or under-watered; sounds like you know it’s over-watered. Peace lilies like to stay on the dry side and should not be fertilized until the end of February at the earliest. The plant can’t use the nutrients until we have longer days. It will bloom when it’s ready and usually needs more light than an indoor setting can provide. Enjoy it as a foliage plant and keep it on the dry side. As soon as you see it start to wilt a little bit, give it some water.

Question 2: Amaryllis problems

Lauren: My new amaryllis won’t grow. It has two inches of growth with no changes in the past three weeks. I moved it to a new place last week to see if it would help but nothing so far. Should I try to feed it? If so, what do you recommend?

Doug: Just make sure not to over-water the bulb, keep it in a warm place (60-70 degrees) and wait. It will bloom when it’s ready.

Question 3: Planting trees

Darlene: I have a planting question. I just bought an Italian pine tree and a cypress tree from Lowe’s. They are small. I would like to plant in my window boxes for a year or so. Can I do that now or should I wait until the spring?

Doug: The first thing to figure out is if those varieties are hardy and for outdoor growing. I’m guessing that they were actually sold as houseplants. If you find that they are hardy, then they could go into the ground now and actually would probably be better off growing that way.

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