Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Dreaded Red Blotch

These are our amaryllis(es) this year. They're coming along, but they don't look so great. Some of the flowers seem stunted and dry, and one bunch died outright.

These never quite got successfully launched.

I'm not an expert, but I think the plants have a fungus known as red blotch. See those red streaks on the flower stems (especially on the one above)? And the red patches on the leaves? They indicate red blotch.

From the reading I've done, our options at this point are to buy a systemic fungicide or discard the bulbs entirely and start over. Even though I'm not a fan of poisons, I hate to toss the plants -- we've had these bulbs five years and I always enjoy them, and properly cared for, they should last for decades. So I'm leaning toward the fungicide option. I still need to explore availability and cost, though.

Granted, these plants have been a little bit wonky from the very beginning -- often one bulb lags behind the others or produces stunted flowers. In retrospect, I think I've been seeing signs of red blotch for years -- slightly curled or misshapen leaves, for example. I just never recognized them as a serious problem. They may have had the fungus even when we first bought them. Argh!


  1. "The Red Blotch" sounds like a story from science fiction. Invasion from outer space may not come in the shape of little green men or androids but as a red blotch moving over the landscape, killing everything it touches... Who will save the world? "e" and Yorkshire Pudding, holed up in their polar laboratory, developing "The Green Blotch"...

  2. Not sure whether I posted this before but in line with a Dutch amaryllis expert (the Dutch are THE experts on all bulb plants) this is what we do and maybe try it:

    When they are finished flowering, cut off the flower, not the flower stem and put the plants outside (semi shade or shade) and ignore them completely until October. Before the frost, cut off all leaves right down to about 1 cm from the bulb and put the plants in a dry dark place - like our basement - and again, ignore them until you see the first inkling of a shoot. I get impatient and try to pick around above the bulb but that's a bad idea.
    Once you see a shoot, move the plant to a sunny window and water a bit, not too much. If you get a shoot for a flower, water carefully every day.
    I have done that with weak looking ones like yours and they came back like princesses the next year. Good luck!

  3. I was relieved that you were talking about a flower & not your face! But I understand being attached to a plant - Ms. Pinky is our baby! She would get the best medicine possible if she were sick :)

  4. I also think they are too close together in that box, need more space.

  5. I have no idea what you should do (although Sabine's advice sounds logical and I'm certain she does know what she's talking about) but what I've come away with from this post is that you are so sweetly tenderhearted.
    Odd how attached to our plants we can become, isn't it?

  6. It looks like they are trying but they just can't push hard enough. I don't know anything about plant fungus so I'll just have to wish you luck with these.

  7. I'm with you on poisons but even I'm thinking about using some on the poison ivy that is making inroads on the fence around the shop. just can't have that. as for the amaryllis, mine are all in the ground so can't help you there.

  8. Sabine's advice seems knowledgeable and sound. I wouldn't rule out starting over with a new batch though. But that's just me. Fung shui is ruthless when it comes to dying plants in the house. It's caused a few debates between my husband and me.

  9. I had the same thought as The Bug - glad you weren't describing your forehead!!

    If I went over there and you tasked me with looking after your plants for a week, there would be no ambivalence on their part - they'd all be dead and you could start over. I'm like the grim reaper of the plant world. You, on the other hand, will bring these back to life if it's possible at all.

  10. You learn many things just by looking after plants.

  11. YP: Well, hurry up and develop that planet-saving antidote, because I need it for my amaryllises!

    Sabine: We usually don't put the plants outside because here they get eaten by slugs (!). But otherwise, the regimen you describe is similar to ours -- we let them sit dormant in a cool room, with no water, through the winter. We begin watering them when buds appear, and we water them when blooming (though not daily, admittedly) and through the summer. When the leaves start to go yellow in the fall we withhold water and they go back to their dormant state. I really think this is not an issue of routine care, but of an infection or infestation of some type. The leaves and flowers are deformed and, as I said, they have the red streaking typical of this particular fungus. :(

    Bug: LOL! I wondered if people would think that!

    Ms Moon: If "tenderhearted" is a nice way of saying "slightly crazy," then you're correct. I do get very attached to my plants, though. They're like pets to me. :)

    Sharon: Yeah, they're making a valiant effort!

    Ellen: Yeah, poison ivy is a nightmare. It's so persistent and it can really infest an area if left unchecked. We used to have some down by the lake at my mom's old house, and it got to the point where we could barely go down there.

    37P: It may come to that! One of the bulbs, in particular, seems quite sickly. Still, I like to heal and rehabilitate if possible. We'll see!

    Jenny-O: I think you just haven't yet found the right plants for you!

    Red: That is definitely true. They're always a learning experience.