Separating Brunsvigia
Thu, 09 Jun 2011 09:48:50 PDT
On 8 Jun 2011, at 23:38, Michael Mace wrote:

> I don't know what caused the problem, but the Amaryllis belladonna experts
> always told me that the best time to replant was in the fall, just after
> they bloom.  This is supposedly when their roots are starting to grow, and
> it's supposed to be the easiest time for the plant to repair any root
> damage.  All I can say is that the Amaryllis I've moved at this time have
> done well.  So that's when I will be repotting in the future.

The advice to divide just as a plant is starting to grow actively is, in fact, 
a widely general principle in horticulture. Non-geophyte examples:

Jeffersonia dubia: divide it in fall when most perennials are traditionally 
divided, and it's toast. Divide it in the spring as it's coming into growth, 
and you will have success.

Hacquetia epipactis: Notorious for disliking root disturbance, but torn to 
shreds and replanted around the end of June when it's starting to push out new, 
white roots, and every scrap survives.

Bamboos: divide in spring as new growth is starting.

Bonsai-ed beech: do root pruning in the spring as the buds begin to swell.

Note that in the case of hacquetia, it's not vegetative growth that's the key: 
that happens much earlier, in late winter or very early spring. It's the growth 
of new roots that is the key. I suspect that this is the key to the other 
examples - and to Amaryllis belladonna too.

There are other horticultural operations with an extremely narrow window for 
success. The late Doris Page, who was Ed Lohbrunner's propagator for many 
years, told me that cuttings of some plants would only root if taken during a 
short period of a few days, the details varying with the plant. OTOH, as 
Christopher Lloyd put it in one of his books, the right time to take cuttings 
is when you have the opportunity, even if it's the wrong time of year per the 
experts. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so to speak.

So if someone offers you offsets of Amaryllis belladonna at the "wrong" time of 
year, accept them with gratitude and take extra care with them.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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