Hacking mowing and other plant abuses

David Ehrlich idavide@sbcglobal.net
Wed, 03 Sep 2008 16:09:17 PDT
I’m trying to understand people who cut-back certain deciduous amaryllids.  It’s true that after flowering, the leaves tend to become disheveled, but there must be ways of coping with this other than removing them.  I’ve seen people tie the leaves into neat erect bundles.  That allows them to get some sun.  But many people remove the leaves entirely, which prevents the bulb from buffing up for next year’s bloom.  I’ve always been of the opinion that if the leaves are green, the plant is still photosynthesizing, and that this is of value to the plant.  (Amaryllids are not the only group to suffer this treatment – I've seen low-growing floppy-leaved deciduous irids similarly treated.) 
I’m writing this because I’m still rankling (a little) about my neighbor: she’s considerate, kind, good with plants, BUT last July I had to leave home for an extended period.  She volunteered to take care of my plants, and promptly trimmed my Ismenes to soil level.  Now as many of you know, (in California, at least), Ismene doesn’t leaf out until May at the earliest, doesn’t bloom until September, and doesn’t even begin to look unkempt until October.  In fact in July, it is tidy, and upright, with the obvious appearance of a plant that is still growing.  She wouldn’t trim back her Agapanthus in July; what would make her trim my Ismenes?  I can't imagine she confused them with Narcissus – Ismene has a pseudo-stem, and the leaves are very different.
The worst of it is that not only did she abort the blooms last year, but the plants weren’t able to build up enough strength to bloom this year.  So, with one deft maneuver of a knife, she managed to subvert two years worth of effort.

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