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March 19, 2016


I'm trying to find a perennial that someone gave my mother years ago.  Not sure of the spelling but I think it is Acimanese.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions where I might find this tough little plant? 




I think the plant you are referring to is achimenes, commonly called orchid pansy or magic flower.  These summer flowering small bulb or rhizome plants are not easily found in nurseries, but can be a good pass-along plant.  A few specialty bulb catalogs do carry them. This member of the gesnariad family (related to African violets) are not reliably winter-hardy so would need to be allowed to go dormant in the fall and then stored in your garage or in a cool, dry place for the winter.  They do best in morning sun and afternoon shade, and need a well-drained soil.  They are fairly carefree, if you can find them to plant.


February 27, 2016

QuestionAre there any catalogs which specialize in rhizomes?  I lost my achimenes baskets last year and year and cannot find a place to replace the rhizomes.  After over 30 years I hate not to have the beautiful baskets these make.



Achimenes are an old-fashioned bulbous type plant which can grow from bulbs, rhizomes or tubers, which most people collectively lump into “bulbs”.  Achimenes make a good pass-along plant, and if you have a healthy plant, the small pinecone like bulbous structures do multiply.  You might try your local county Master Gardener plant sales in April or May.  Some perennial nurseries carry them, as do some of the bulb companies.  Plants Delight offers a hardy variety, and McClure and Zimmerman have them as well.


(October 2012)

QuestionMy spring bulbs are coming up, what should I do?  Should I just leave them or replace with new bulbs in November?  I live in Western Bella Vista.


Answer A lot of plants are confused this year, so it is no wonder that our bulbs are too.  Leave them alone and hopefully they will slow down in their new growth as the weather continues to get cooler, and then still bloom again in the spring.  I have seen some snowdrops foliage appearing as well, but there isn’t anything you can do to stop it or force the foliage back into the bulbs.  You can always add to your bulb collection in November, but don’t count these out yet.

(October 2012)

QuestionArkansas Gardener October 2012 Zone Report


AnswerGarden clean up is important.  Our poor plants need as much tender loving care as they can get after making it through the past two years outside.  Rake up spent debris, cut back perennials as they begin to die back.  Cannas continue to be plagued by the leaf roller, and it lives in spent debris in the garden, so don’t give it a resting place.  Cut and destroy.  Add a fresh layer of mulch in all gardens.  Take inventory of what worked, and what didn’t.  The only plants you should be fertilizing now are winter annuals and vegetable gardens.  Everything else is preparing for winter, and should not be encouraged to keep growing. Houseplants should all be safely back indoors, along with any non-winter hardy plants you want to save.  Cut back on the watering indoors and give them bright light to acclimate to the inside conditions.  Check for insects. Plant spring blooming bulbs from now through the first of the year.  Expand your plant palette and instead of just daffodils and tulips, try some unusual bulbs.  The alliums, or flowering onions are gaining in popularity along with scilla, grape hyacinths and snowdrops.

(July 2012)

QuestionCan you please identify this plant?


AnswerThe plant in question is commonly called a spider lily — Hymenocallis.

 (February 2012)

QuestionWith the warm weather, we have healthy winter weeds and tops of tender bulbs and other perennials coming up. Is there a herbicide that will kill the weeds and not hurt the perennials?


AnswerAnything that will kill the broadleaf weeds will also kill or damage your emerging perennials and bulbs, so either use a hoe, or spot spray, making sure there is no contact between herbicide and desirable plants.  Round-up or a glyphosate product will work, if you can shield the desirable plants.  I prefer the hoe or hand pulling to avoid damage.

(November 2011)

QuestionFall Gardening Tasks


AnswerRake leaves as they begin to fall.  Start your own compost pile or use shredded leaves as mulch in the garden. If you haven’t planted winter annuals, do so soon.  Pansies, violas, flowering kale and cabbage can all still be planted.  Make sure you buy blooming plants now, or you won’t get great flowers until spring. Plant spring blooming bulbs from now through the first of the year. After a killing frost, clean up your flower beds and vegetable gardens.  Canna foliage needs to be cut back and disposed of to help cut back on the leaf roller insect which overwinters in the spent leaves.   Houseplants that are inside need less water now, and may shed some leaves as they readjust to indoor conditions.   November is the ideal month to plant a tree.  The ground still has some residual heat, we have ample moisture and the plant is going dormant so it can spend its time putting on roots. If you need to transplant hardy shrubs or trees from one part of your yard to another, the transplant season has begun.

(January 2012)

QuestionWinter Gardening Tasks


AnswerContinue to clean up in the garden.  Since our first killing frost was late, many people still have dead foliage out in the garden.    Some late leaves have continued to fall, so those too can be raked and added to the compost pile.  If you still have spring blooming bulbs that you haven’t planted, get them in the ground as soon as possible.  Remember they need to be exposed to at least 12 – 16 weeks of cool temperatures if they are going to perform at their peak. Winter weeds are the green in your lawn right now.  If you plan to spray with an herbicide, do so on a day that is above freezing.  Killing winter weeds is not difficult, but the smaller they are, the easier they are to kill. If you have pansies and violas in your landscape, fertilize them on a mild winter day.  Deadhead or remove the spent flowers to keep them producing more.   Continue to enjoy your poinsettia now that the holidays are over.  I like the added color indoors since all the other holiday decorations are gone.  Give them plenty of sunlight and even moisture and they will continue to give you color for months. If you can still find them, buy some paper white narcissus and amaryllis bulbs for added color indoors.  They are typically in bloom within six weeks of being planted.  Amaryllis bulbs can last for years, but paper whites are typically a one season wonder.  I toss them after they finish blooming. Seed catalogs are arriving.  Start planning your vegetable and flower garden.  Try something new this year.   We are in the middle of the transplanting season, so if you have plants that need to be moved in your garden, you can do so now through early March.  Remember to use caution if you are moving plants in freezing temperatures.  Don’t expose the root system to freezing temperatures for long.  Have the new hole dug before you dig up the old plant.  Mulch and water and they should start putting down roots.  No fertilizer is needed until new growth begins in the spring.

(April 2010)

QuestionNow that our daffodils have stopped flowering, can we cut them down or is it best to leave them  alone to dry up on their own?


AnswerDaffodils, as all spring bulbs, need a minimum of six weeks of foliage growth after blooming to generate energy for a flower next spring.  If you cut the leaves off right after flowering, you will get some leaves next year, but no blooms.  You can let the foliage die back on its own, but in a mild season, such as we had last year, you may still have daffodil foliage into July, and that isn’t really necessary.  An easy tip is to wait until the last spring bulb in your garden has finished blooming, then count out six weeks on your calendar and put a red X there.  When that date rolls around, you will know that every bulb in your garden has had at least six weeks of growth and they all can be cut back.

(May 2009)

QuestionA friend of mine gave me the a Clivia miniata  houseplant and I have been unsure how to take care of it. Searching the internet I found out that it likes to be on the dry side. By the time I learned this, the plant has already lost its blooms so I am afraid that I have killed the plant. Can you tell me anything I can do to revive the plant? I am willing to re-pot if necessary.


AnswerClivia only blooms once a year, but when it does it is amazing.  The flowers are either a bright orange or yellow depending on the variety.  The plant is in the amaryllis family and is not winter hardy in Arkansas.  Young plants can take several years before they begin to bloom.  During the growing season—from spring until fall, water regularly and fertilize once or twice.  You can move the plant outdoors for the growing season and then bring it back inside for fall.  During the fall and early winter, keep it very dry and on the cool side.  A chilling period is needed for best flower production.  Gradually increase watering as the plants begin to grow, and hopefully you will have a beautiful flower again next year.

(April 2005)

QuestionMy tulips are beautiful this year but I have received so many conflicting stories of what to do for them to be pretty again next year. I have been told to remove the flower but leave all the foliage in place until it dies or to remove the flower with stem to the foliage so that they will not go to seed instead of setting the bulbs for next year. Also to leave the bulbs in the ground and to take them up and let them dry out before planting again in the fall. Right now I am totally confused as to what action to take. Can you help me?


AnswerThere are many different theories on tulips, but a lot can depend on what type of tulips you are growing.  Many of the newer cultivars are quite showy in one season, but are not nearly as pretty the following year, regardless of care.  Some are good repeaters, some are not.  It is best to remove the flower stalk—not the leaves.  Tulips and hyacinths often set large above ground seed pods, which does take energy away from the developing bulbs underground.  The foliage needs to be healthy and green for at least six weeks following bloom to set flowers for next year.  Fertilization helps, but I often recommend applying it when the flower buds begin to appear, to have the nutrition ready when the plants are finished.  A light application now will also help.  There are two schools of thought on tulip bulbs being lifted in the summer.  Tulips are native to a season with cold winters and dry summers. If you  water the beds regularly during the growing season for other plants in these beds,  tulip bulbs can rot.  If your beds are fairly dry, lifting and storing is not needed, but if drainage is an issue, you may want to lift and replant the following fall.  Many gardeners replant new tulips every season to be assured of large spring blooming tulips.

(December 2007)

QuestionThe bulbs that I planted in late fall are confused with the fluctuating weather and are starting to pop up all over my garden.  What effect will this have on their future growth during the season?  Is there anything I need to do to protect if we get really cold weather?


AnswerIt isn’t unusual for some bulb foliage to be peaking through already—it happens almost every season.  But for those who don’t have any foliage up, just be grateful.  The foliage on spring blooming bulbs is quite winter hardy.  Don’t cut off the foliage, since it is the only set of leaves the bulbs contain.  Do apply some mulch around the leaves, particularly if it gets really cold.  Avoid any contact with the foliage if the weather is below freezing, as the leaves can be brittle and break easily if frozen.    For those of you who still have bulbs to plant, there is still time.  Just make sure you are keeping them on the cool side before you plant.  Don’t freeze the bulbs, but storing them in the garage should be giving you cooler temperatures.  Try to plant as soon as possible

(April 2006)

Question I just found some Spring-flowering bulbs that did not get planted last fall. They have been in a cool place. What should I do with them? Can they be planted now or are they a complete loss?


AnswerIf the bulbs are still firm, you can get by with forcing them to enjoy indoors. They will not last until next spring, nor can you plant them outdoors this late. If they have been thoroughly chilled, pot them in potting soil, give them sun and water and they should be in bloom in around 6-10 weeks depending on what stage they are in now. The pots could be outdoors until the heat kicks in. Spring bulbs don’t fare well in warm temperatures. Once the temperatures heat up, move them inside, and enjoy them there. If they have not gotten enough chilling hours below 45 degrees -- a minimum of 10 weeks, then either give them extra chilling in the refrigerator or if there is room, pot them in soil and put them in the refrigerator. Either way, make sure they are not near other fruits and vegetables, which can give off ethylene gas and age them.

(March 2005)

QuestionThere is an un-irrigated area of my yard between the driveway and property line in which I would like to plant bulbs.  Will bulbs flourish with rain water only?  If so, which ones, and when should I plant them?


AnswerMost of the spring bulbs will do very well, since we get ample moisture during their growth period--winter through spring, and they prefer it to be dry during their dormant summer months.  Daffodils, tulips, crocus, and hyacinths should all do well, and are all best planted in the fall.

(November 2005)

QuestionMy daughter-in-law brought me some bulbs from Holland (I lost the label and don't remember what they are) and I planted them in early April.  The next day the beds were full of holes, so I thought the squirrels had gotten them all. Only one bulb came up and the heat got it.  Now, they are coming up.  They are about 6-12 inches high.  They are not ready to bloom.  What can I do?  Will it be OK to dig them up before the finish their growing cycle?  If I leave them in the ground will the cold weather kill them?  I hate to lose them. The picture on the package showed a blue star like flower with a yellow center.  The leaves are flat and slender like a glad but not that large. Can you please help me before this "strange" November weather turns to the real Arkansas fall?


AnswerI think you need to investigate a bit further as to what type of bulbs they are.  There are summer blooming bulbs, which should be planted in April, but which thrive in heat.  Since yours didn't emerge, and the one that did couldn't take the heat, leads me to think they could be spring bulbs that you got a little late.  They are normally planted in the fall, for a spring bloom season.  They need a chilling cycle to go through before they can sprout, grow and bloom.   While it is a tad early for the foliage to be up, it is not totally unheard of.  The leaves are very cold tolerant for these types of bulbs.  You shouldn't see the flower spikes until closer to spring.  Grape hyacinths have slender leaves, almost like monkey grass, and they are growing now.  Or it could be some type of Dutch iris.  See if you can pinpoint what the bulb is.


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