Question: We have an amaryllis that has grown over three-feet tall. It now has four large blossoms that are absolutely spectacular. How do I care for it to make sure it blooms again next year?

Answer: Remove the flowers as they fade. This prevents seed formation, which diverts food from the bulb itself. When the blooming period is over, cut the bloom stalks about one half inch from the top of the bulb. Foliage will soon appear. Place the pot in a bright, sunny location. Keep the plant watered and feed with a general houseplant fertilizer to promote vigorous foliage. Food manufactured in the leaves will enlarge and feed the bulb, which incidentally shrinks as a result of flowering. If properly cared for, amaryllis bulbs should increase about half an inch in size each year.

After all danger of frost is past in the spring, you can plunge the pot into the soil outside in an east or west facing location. Late in the summer, as the leaves begin to yellow, gradually cut back on watering until the leaves fade completely and the soil is dry. Bring the amaryllis indoors in September when the leaves have died. Store in a cool, dry location out of direct light until signs of growth reappear. These conditions will reduce moisture loss from the bulb. Discontinue watering and feeding during this period to prevent rot.

In about two months, new growth will appear. At this time it is advisable to gently remove and replenish the top inch of potting mixture, mixing it with a teaspoon of bone meal. Take care not to disturb the roots or damage the new shoot. Place the pot in a warm, sunny location and continue watering and fertilizing as before. An amaryllis bulb may need repotting every three or four years as the bulb increases in diameter, but a slightly "pot-bound" amaryllis will do well as long as it is adequately fed.

Question: There simply has to be something that can be done to get rid of all of the moss in our lawn. It looks like we now have more moss in our lawn than we do grass. What do you suggest?

Answer: It's definitely that time of the year when moss seems to prevail in most of our lawns. Our short days with low light intensity, cool temperatures and wet conditions provide the perfect environmental conditions for moss to flourish. Grass on the other hand, responds to just the opposite conditions: increased light from extended day length, warm temperatures and drier conditions. Eventually, as our dark winter days give way to spring, moss should become less of a problem. WSU turf grass specialists recommend applying ferrous ammonium sulfate to help control moss this time of year. The iron (ferrous) will kill the moss while the ammonium sulfate (fertilizer) will stimulate grass growth. Wait for a dry day to make the application and keep the material off concrete driveways and sidewalks in order to prevent staining.

Question: We can't believe it! Our lawn has turned pink! It almost looks like we dyed it! What caused this? Should we spray it with something?

Answer: Based on the symptoms you are describing, I think your lawn has been infected by the fungus disease corticum red thread. The disease is fairly common in our cool, moist, coastal climate. The disease is noticeable during the spring and fall, but especially during the winter. The pink coloration is the result of light pink to red fungus strands which grow from the tips and leaf sheaths of the grass blades. The disease is primarily cosmetic and rarely kills any grass.

Although there are turf fungicides, like Daconil Weather Stik, which are registered for the control of this fungus, the disease can be effectively controlled simply by maintaining a balanced nutritional program. WSU turf grass specialists recommend applying five pounds of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) per 1,000 square feet of turf grass area four times a year. Applications made in April, June, September and late November will help prevent the development of the red thread fungus.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For answers to local gardening questions, contact Master Gardener Rachel Gana at 642-8723 or e-mail her at: baiter1@pacifier.com.

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