Forcing amaryllis; huge persimmons

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 8, 2013

SALISBURY — As November ushers in cooler weather, outdoor chores are still a priority for home owners, especially those with deciduous trees. Raking leaves to help maintain healthy turf is very important. Many have questions about lawn care and other outdoor activities. Below are a few questions received over the past few days that may relate to your situation.
Question: My wife has an amaryllis bulb she has kept over the summer. It was very expensive and the leaves have grown very large over the summer. What do I have to do to make it re-bloom for Christmas?
Answer: Bring the plant bulb indoors and place in a dark location on its side for six to eight weeks. The leaves will then wilt and die. With a sharp knife or pruners, carefully remove the leaves close to the bulb. The bulb should be stored in a cool, dry location such as a basement in an area that is cool, approximately 50-60 degrees. It is important not to water the bulb during this resting period. Repot the bulb with fresh potting soil. The bulb may be too large for the previous pot, so plant the bulb in a pot one size larger than previous pot. All-purpose potting soils are an acceptable media. Place the bulb so that the top half is exposed. Keep the soil moist and place in a sunny, but cool location in the home, similar to locations for poinsettias. Ideal forcing temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees, avoiding drafts and forced-air heating vents.
Question: I noticed a tree last week that looked almost like an orange tree with large orange fruit. Was this some type of hardy orange tree in Rowan County?
Answer: No, it was most likely an oriental persimmon. These trees adapt to our growing conditions, producing persimmons that are the size of a large baseball. There are two major types of oriental persimmon fruit, based on fruit astringency. One group, the non-astringent types, may be eaten while the fruit is still mature and firm. Fruit of the other group must be soft before astringency is lost. Non-astringent varieties should be planted for home use although astringent varieties can be grown in North Carolina. Go to com/#q=asian+persimmon%2C+nc for more complete information on varieties and cultural requirements.
Question: We have beds of liriope (monkey grass) that have plants that are escaping out into the lawn. Other than digging up the plants, is there an effective way to kill liriope? I’ve tried Roundup and it didn’t kill it.
Answer: Roundup will kill liriope, but it will require repeated applications. It may require four or more applications at high rates for complete control. Roundup Extended does a good job, but it contains pre-emergence herbicide that will keep grass seed from germinating for three months.

Darrell Blackwelder is county Extension director. Call 704-216-8970.