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Repotting baby amaryllis bulbs could yield more blooms

This week's Plant of the Week is Eastern red cedar, which sprouts attractive blue seed cones in the fall.
This week's Plant of the Week is Eastern red cedar, which sprouts attractive blue seed cones in the fall. (Courtesy of Sara Tangren, Handout photo)

Should I remove the new bulbs [babies] from an amaryllis when repotting? Mine has three small bulbs coming off the main one.

You will probably get more blooms if you remove the bulblets. Plant them in separate pots and, in a few years, the babies will bloom. When left in the same pot as the main one, there will be less space, moisture and nutrients for them. That being said, we have seen single pots with multiple babies and possibly grandbabies that have matured to create a forest of blooming amaryllis. Certainly, if you observe reduced bloom or vigor, divide them into separate pots. You can get more information on the amaryllis care here.

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I just had my gardener remove an old shrub from a dirt plot in the corner of my patio. He removed all soil to a depth of 21/2 to 3 inches and replaced it with 20 pounds of topsoil. He then planted a red d'Anjou pear tree. Was this a good way to get rid of any potential soil that could have lead in it?

It sounds as though you have replaced much of your soil. It would have been better to test the soil first to determine if there was a lead problem. Most soil lead is found in the top 4 inches. The biggest concern is tracking contaminated soil into your home or bringing it in on tools or clothing, such as gardening gloves. It seems that you now have a very reduced risk. Mulch or plant a carefree ground cover on the bare soil. The Home and Garden Information Center's publication "Lead in Garden Soils" has more info and can be viewed under the "Soils" tab on our website.

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Plant of the week

Eastern red cedar

Juniperus virginiana

This native conifer is actually a juniper, not a cedar. Growing to 40 feet tall and 15 feet wide, cultivars range in shape from pyramidal to columnar, while volunteers — plants that grow on their own — vary greatly. With age, the tree's lower trunk often becomes exposed like that of a small shade tree. Trunks have reddish, peeling bark and can be handsomely fluted, or flared. Green to blue-green scaly foliage may bronze in the winter. In the fall, attractive blue seed cones on female trees are relished by birds and wildlife, plus this dense evergreen provides shelter and nesting sites. Dismissed as weedy by some gardeners, the Eastern red cedar deserves a spot in windbreaks, screens and hedgerows, or as a specimen. The fragrant heartwood is famous for lining cedar chests and closets. It will grow best in full sun and a wide variety of soils. Do not plant near apple trees; it is an alternate host for cedar apple rust.

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— Marian Hengemihle

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