Ask the Gardener: Sunflowers, amaryllis bulbs and beautyberry

Posted on: February 2, 2020 | 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.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

  • Email
  • Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site
  • Send us a message on Facebook.

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

Question 1: Sunflowers

Gregory: After hearing you talking about  ‘SunBelievable Brown Eyed Girl’ sunflowers on the radio, I would like to purchase some. How can I do that?

Doug: The variety is only available as a plant, which will be available at local nurseries in the spring. It won’t be hard to find. You can read more about the plant in this article from MANTS 2020.

Question 2: Amaryllis bulbs

Darlene: I’ve grown these bulbs for years and never repotted or fertilized and have had good success. I’m wanting to maximize the blooms, so should I repot annually?  Can I fertilize more than once a season? Several bulbs have developed long “necks” (4 to 5 inches). After the fronds die off can I shorten these?

Doug: You don’t have to repot every year; the bulbs like it tight in the pot. When you do repot, just go one size bigger and use a good planting mix. As long as the bulb gets enough energy during the time after they flower and before dormancy, it will provide nice blooms. Fertilizing during that growth period will help. I like an organic liquid fertilizer like Grow from Espoma. I would leave the necks as is, if I’m understanding you correctly.

This story has a lot of good info also.


Question 3: Beautyberry

Kimberly: My friend says she cuts her beautyberry to the ground every year. This is mine, and I have never cut mine to the ground, just pruning as needed. What do you suggest for a healthy shrub?

Doug: I would not cut it at all. It’s carefree; let it do its thing and enjoy the berries.

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