Amaryllis Disease

Amaryllis 'Red Lion'

I’ve never been one for traditional amaryllis at the December holidays. For one thing, there are too many other plants that you can have around that are as showy or showier.

For another, since I go away just after Christmas for a week or two, if, for whatever reason, my bulb timing is off, I may miss the flowers completely. Very disappointing.

So I usually start them after I come back from that January vacation. This year I was a bit late because of the fungus gnat issue. I’ll have amaryllis for Easter, I guess.

But imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when one of my bulbs, with a perfect stalk up and about ready to open, had a second bud that withered and began to brown.

I recalled reading something about a disease that was affecting amaryllis so I immediately brought the plant into the kitchen, pulled back the papery skin covering the outer bulb and explored further. This is what I found.

diseased amarylis bud

Notice the red markings on the left side of the bud where it detached. Apparently this is very distinctive of a fungal disease called “red fire disease.” Here is the description from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station:

Stagonospora curtsii
“This fungus infects leaves, flower stalks, flower parts, or bulb scales. Affected plant parts are often bent or deformed at the point of infection. Distinctive red spots or blotches develop on diseased tissues. Flower stalks of plants with severe infections often dry up without producing flowers. Since the fungus is probably present in the bulb, infections occur as flower stalks and leaves emerge from the bulb.”

The Experiment Station further goes on to say that good sanitation and cultural practices with watering may help control the disease but that it is most likely present in the bulb itself and severely infested bulbs should be discarded.

I’ll need to watch this closely as the leaves emerge. And needles to say, this is not one that I’ll leave out in the elements this summer. I’ll keep it in a controlled environment (if I keep it at all) so that I can watch the watering carefully.

sad squirrel wishng for spring

And while we’re still doing the “winter” thing here in Connecticut, here is a poor little squirrel, trying to drink from a puddle of melted snow as–for a change–more flurries fly around him. I sure hope this pattern breaks in April!

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