Issue: September 3, 2005Amaryllis from seeds | Crape myrtle in New Mexico
Amaryllis from seedsQuestion:
My amaryllis plants made seed pods after they bloomed last winter. The pods have ripened and split open, and I wondered if the seed will be good. What do I need to do to grow them?Answer:
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum hybrid) seeds may grow for you. If the seed did not develop normally, the seed capsule would probably have dried with the whole flower stalk long before now. It is important that the seeds be planted soon after the capsule matures and opens. If you delay, the seeds may die. This is true with many tropical plants that have no waiting period between ripening and planting.
The seeds appear as flat, black, papery structures about one-half inch across. These structures are coverings that serve as wings to allow the wind to disperse the seeds after they mature. The actual seeds are small lumps in this wing.
When you plant these seeds, do not bury them deeply. Put them on top of moist potting soil and cover lightly with potting soil or finely shredded sphagnum moss. Moisten this covering medium and then place plastic wrap (or some other material) to retain the moisture over the pot in which the seeds are planted. Avoid over-wetting; the soil and covering material should be only slightly damp. Maintain this level of moisture until the seeds begin germinating, and then irrigate to keep the soil evenly moist as the seedlings grow.
It may take three or more years before these seedlings are large enough to flower. The new plants, being offspring of hybrids, will not be like their parents. Some may be small flowered but others may have large, attractive flowers. This is one of the enjoyable things about gardening - knowing that there may be a surprise waiting. This is a surprise that will require a long wait, but waiting increases the anticipation and makes the surprise even greater. Let me know what kind of new flowers you get.
Crape myrtle in New MexicoQuestion:
Can I grow crape myrtle in New Mexico?Answer:
Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia) plants are hardy in USDA hardiness zone 6 to 10, depending on which variety is grown. These can be grown in much of New Mexico, and by careful choice of microclimates (protected locations) they may be grown further north and at higher elevations than many people realize. They may also be grown as potted shrubs (especially the miniature forms) that can be moved into protected locations (garage, etc.) during the coldest weather.
Many crape myrtle varieties have been developed. These range from very small miniatures to large trees (not a good choice for most of New Mexico). In the larger forms, the bark on the trunk exfoliates (peels off) to reveal a very attractive, smooth, tan bark. Some are susceptible to powdery mildew and others have some resistance to this disease. All produce many attractive, colorful clusters of flowers over a long summer blooming period.
In some winters crape myrtle plants may freeze to the ground, but for the last decade I have seen them survive without freezing in Albuquerque. This is indeed an interesting flowering shrub to try in New Mexico.
Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.
Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!