Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beautiful Amaryllis Does Well Here; but Watch out for the Mexican Petunia's Growth

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beautiful Amaryllis Does Well Here; but Watch out for the Mexican Petunia's Growth

Article excerpt

Byline: Camille Hunter

Can I plant my Christmas amaryllis outdoors when it is done blooming? Will it grow and bloom again?

Amaryllis bulbs are native to South Africa and are subtropical. Even so, they generally do well here when planted outdoors, though frost will kill the leaves.

Cut off the flower stalk when the bloom has faded, leaving about 3 inches of the flower stem. Do not cut off the leaves. Water when dry and keep the pot in a sunny spot indoors or ideally, in a bright, cool, but not freezing, spot outdoors. Fertilize to encourage the growth of new leaves. Leaves nourish the plant and grow the bulb. The bigger the bulb, the bigger the flowers produced. Plant your bulb outdoors in spring when the soil has warmed up, preferably in partial sun and in well-drained soil. The top of the bulb should be at ground level. Amaryllis bulbs are forced to bloom during the holidays but when planted outdoors they flower in spring. Your plant will flower the following spring.

I love Mexican petunia. It practically grows itself and flowers for a long time. Is it true that it is being banned in Florida?

You may find it attractive, but there are many gardeners who rue the day they brought it into their yard. Once established, it spreads relentlessly and is difficult to control.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences lists common Mexican Petunia (Ruella brittoniana) as invasive and not recommended for North Florida. It is considered a pest that can overtake native plant areas and negatively impact the ecology of an area, and therefore it should be avoided. There is a newer hybrid of Mexican petunia that is sterile and doesn't produce seeds. If available, it would be a better choice for your yard, although it can still spread by underground rhizomes.

Go to for a list of plants not recommended for North Florida.

I read that potatoes can be planted here in January, but does that include sweet potatoes? Do you have any tips for growing them?

Regular Irish potatoes can be planted now, from mid-January through March, but sweet potatoes like heat so don't plant them now. …

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