Metro-East Living

It’s likely those bulbs will produce a Christmas Amaryllis

Gardening expert Charles Giedeman believes this is Hippeastrum hybrida, the Christmas Amaryllis.
Gardening expert Charles Giedeman believes this is Hippeastrum hybrida, the Christmas Amaryllis. Provided

Q. My cousin gave me some bulbs and they flowered in February, as you can see from the photo. What kind of flowers are they? I had 20 blooms, but there was no fragrance. My cousin received them from her grandmother and my cousin was in her 80s when she gave them to me.

H. C. of Belleville

A. Your photo helped reduce my choices to two different plants that have similar flowers: the Christmas Amaryllis (Hippeastrum hybrid) and the Belladonna Lily (Amaryllis belladonna). Then your one sentence helped to pin it down to one — that it bloomed in early spring and that the flowers did not have any fragrance. But, to be sure, wait until the plant blooms again and if the flower stalk is hollow, the plant is surely the Hippeastrum hybrida. It will contain three to six flowers to cluster.

If the flower stalks are solid and have six to 12 flowers per cluster, then it is Amaryllis belladonna. This plant usually does not have any leaves showing when it blooms. If you have the Belladonna Lily, they are quite rare.

Both have bulbs. But the Christmas Amaryllis usually has a large bulb when it is mature.

Q. I would like to buy and plant a fragrant wisteria vine. Which one should I choose?

M. S. of Collinsville

A. The Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) is the more commonly grown wisteria. But the wisteria you want is known as the Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda).

The time of pruning will be important as most people prune them during the dormant season, which encourages vegetative growth in spring. Instead, prune the long straggly growth out in July. This will induce more flowering. Cut them back one-third to one-half the length. If you prune them back to the same height each July, you will end up with a shrubby or weeping form of plants.

Q. Could you tell me how fast a slow-growing tree, such as an oak, will grow in one year?

H. B. of Belleville

A. The ultimate growth of a tree depends upon many factors, such as soil type and fertility, aspect, weather conditions, competition of surrounding plants and general care.

The usual general guidelines of the nursery industry are as follows: a slow-growing tree will grow less than 12 inches in one growing season; a medium-growing tree will grow between 1 and 2 feet, and; a fast-growing tree will grow more than 25 inches.

Q. How do I keep forget-me-nots plants for next year?

K. F. of Waterloo

Forget-me-nots are annuals that last for one year. But they do self-seed, usually with no trouble at all.

Once they finish flowering and have set seed, you can trim the plants back. Next spring, check as the young plants begin to grow and thin them out or replant some using a trowel to easily dig them up and move them.

Things to do this week:

Finish planting any spring bulbs; it’s getting late and the soil could freeze up at any time.

Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to