Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print
DEAR JESSICA: I have had an indoor Amazon lily for about 20 years. It made beautiful upside-down white lilies for years, but stopped blooming five years ago. The leaves are healthy. Any ideas to bring the blooms back?
— Nancy Kaufmann,
DEAR NANCY: Native to South America, the Amazon lily (Eucharis amazonica) is a tropical bulb plant that puts forth showy clusters of highly fragrant white flowers atop 18- to 24-inch stems. In Long Island’s climate, they can be grown indoors in containers but require a shady spot, consistently warm temperatures and fertile, alkaline soil.
You don’t mention if anything has changed. Amazon lilies do not like to be disturbed, so it’s advisable to allow them to remain in the same pot for several years at a time. There’s not much worry about crowding, as they actually bloom best when pot-bound. If you repotted your plant around the same time it stopped blooming, it could be working to reacclimatize, which could take several years.
In their native Colombia and Peru, Amazon lilies tend to bloom during the dry season, so you might try encouraging them by reducing water to the bare minimum for a few weeks, and resume normal water and fertilizer amounts when you see a flower stalk.
DEAR JESSICA: It seemed we experienced spring in December, and I am not sure whether or not my hydrangea flowers will be affected. I have not pruned as yet but am concerned as to when the best time would be.
— Jeanette Reynolds,
DEAR JEANETTE: Some hydrangea species bloom on old growth, some on new growth and others on both, and as such, they have different pruning requirements. Those requirements, however, remain the same regardless of the weather. So prune arborescens, paniculata and quercifolia in late winter or early spring, and macrophylla in late summer as soon as the flowers fade (no later than September).
If blooming is diminished next year, it would be because freezing temperatures killed buds.
DEAR JESSICA: I grew up in Austria, and every year toward the end of winter/early spring my friends and I walked many miles to woods at the bottom of a high mountain that had many stands of white snow roses, or hellebores, as they are called here. I never knew that they came in other colors. This past fall I happened to see them in a garden center and I had to buy them. I was looking forward to flowers by this spring, but to my surprise the plant started flowering around December. What should I do?
— Antonia Ackerman,
DEAR ANTONIA: In late winter or early spring, cut away dead foliage. Your plants might not bloom again this year, but there’s a chance they will, to some extent, at least.
DEAR JESSICA: I have a white fig tree that is about 20 years old. When I got it, it took about five years to get fruit. I moved about six years ago and took the tree with me. It has not had any fruit since. It gets full sun and water. What could be the problem?
— Julia Mascia,
DEAR JULIA: A relocated fig tree requires time to become established, just as a young, newly planted one does. However, you should consider cultural conditions as well.
Have you fertilized? Too much nitrogen will result in lush, green growth at the expense of fruit. And your plant could be getting nitrogen even if you’re not applying it directly if it’s planted in or near a lawn that is fertilized. Insufficient water could also result in a fruitless tree.
Is the tree planted in a protected spot, such as against a house or garage, or out in the open? Figs perform best when sheltered.
Do you wrap or bury the tree every fall? The past two winters have been unusually cold, snowy and icy, and that certainly could be taking a toll on your tree.