Amaryllis and Paperwhites

It’s November and Christmas is seven weeks away. While there is still plenty of time for shopping and baking, if you would like to have amaryllis and paperwhite blooms for the holidays, it is time to get started.

Ednie Photo

Ednie Photo

Amaryllis take 6 – 8 weeks to bloom, depending on the variety. Once you get them potted up, put them in a low light location for the first week to ten days so that the roots get well established first. Then move them to more indirect light as the stems begin to emerge from the bulb. Remember to turn the pot occasionally so that the stems stay straight.

Did you know that amaryllis bulbs already contain the flower/flowers that will emerge? This is one key reason why bulb size matters. Larger bulbs produce more stems and more flowers per stem.

Amaryllis bulbs make wonderful gifts. They stay dormant until they are potted up and watered. One year I gave amaryllis forcing kits to a group of friends at the holidays. Not only did I enjoy growing one myself, but everyone I gave them to sent me pictures of theirs in bloom. It was a fun thing to see after the holiday season was over and the excitement shared in the pictures made me sure that they really enjoyed them.

Ednie Photo

Ednie Photo

Paperwhites are the instant gratification bulb of the season. Paperwhites need only 3 – 5 weeks to bloom. 3-week bulbs can give you blooms for Thanksgiving if you get started soon. As with amaryllis, bigger bulbs produce bigger and more abundant flowers.

There are many new varieties of paperwhites. Most of what you see in the retail stores is a variety called Ziva and they have a very strong scent. This variety has put paperwhites out of favor with many people. New varieties have milder scents and are more colorful.

The other great thing about paperwhites is that they can grow in our gardens in Columbia. After you have enjoyed them inside for the holidays, you can put them into your garden and enjoy them for years to come. Just add a little compost and a little bone meal to the soil when you plant them. (Note: this will not work if you use only water to force your bulbs indoors. They must be grown in potting soil).

Making Them Last

As you grow amaryllis and paperwhites indoors, keeping them cooler and away from direct sunlight will keep the blooms lasting longer.  High sun or warm temperatures may cause the stems to get very long. This, along with the heavy flowers, can cause the stem to fall over. If this happens, cut the stem at its base and put the flower in a vase. These make long lasting cut flowers too.

Floppy Stems?

One fun study at Cornell University has resulted in a way to keep your paperwhite and amaryllis stems from flopping over. And it involves alcohol! Gin, vodka or tequila works well. Do not use beer or wine, as they contain too much sugar. Mix one-part alcohol to seven parts water and use this mixture for your weekly bulb watering. It keeps the stems about one third shorter and does not affect the blooms. Do not make it stronger – too much is toxic, but we knew that didn’t we? Isopropyl (Rubbing) alcohol will also work the same way as liquor.

We Have Bulbs and Forcing Kits!

For the first time, we are offering amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs and forcing kits locally. We have searched out larger bulbs and some more unusual varieties to bring to you here in Columbia.  You can order them from the website here:

We will also have them available for sale at the Richland County Public Library on Assembly Street during their Farmers Market on Wednesday November 6th from 10 – 1.

Best wishes for a love-filled holiday season,


5 Annual Cut Flowers That Flourish in Our Hot and Humid Summers

Its still summer. Sigh. Our “famously hot” summers are no joke.  The hot and humid weather is a challenge to us and to most of the plants that we try to nurture through to fall. There are those, however, that do well or do their best in these conditions. Here are my top 5:



 1.       Zinnias – who can resist these happy blooms? They come in every color but blue. There are multiple sizes and shapes available. They can be started fairly easily from seed and if you cut and feed them weekly, they will produce flowers for your home for weeks.  They are prone to powdery mildew, so here in Columbia, plant them further apart than the seed pack recommends. I plant mine a foot apart (Benary’s Giants) so there is plenty of airflow between the plants. Cutting them frequently also keeps the vegetation thinned out, further improving the airflow.



2.       Basil – yup, you read that right. All bouquets need greenery to make the blooms pop. Basil does the trick. Using Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon or Cinnamon also adds a lovely fragrance to your bouquet. When growing basil as a cut flower, you need to let the plant bloom and let the stem get woody before you cut it.  This is the opposite of what you would do if you are growing it to eat. Basil grows well in full sun in the spring, but in the summer give it a little bit of shade to keep it happy.

Globe Amaranth

Globe Amaranth

3.       Globe amaranth – this sweet bloom doesn’t even get going well until it gets hot. Really hot. It may seem like it isn’t going to do anything, but when the heat rises, it produces a profusion of blooms from a single plant.  It will keep producing until the fall frosts arrive. It comes in white, light and dark pink, red and orange.



4.       Sunflowers – these magical blooms are not bothered by the heat. We grow the pollenless single stem varieties for bouquets, but the branching varieties will also do fine when we’re wilting.  Did you know that you can affect the size of the blooms by how you space the plants? Planting them 6 inches apart will give you blooms that are right-sized for a bouquet. At 12 inches apart, the larger, more typical flower head with form from the same seed. Be sure to cut them before they are fully open so that bugs don’t ruin the blooms.



5.       Celosia – This comes in many forms – spike, fan or brain and wheat. They all add texture and color to your bouquet. They come in good variety of colors so you can use this to round out the mix. Be sure to pick this one before the seed forms or you will find little black droppings on the table under your bouquet.

 If you want to have something to cut in your garden in the hottest part of summer, these plants can fill the bill. Do you have any other favorite annuals that do well in this heat?

 Happy Gardening!


Many Thanks - Ag+Art Tour 2019 Recap

Many thanks to all who participated in the first Ag+Art Tour for Richland county! We had a busy weekend at the farm, with 250+ people coming out to tour the farm, get help from the Richland County Master Gardeners and shop with our artists under the shade of the oaks. If you were there, we thank you for coming.

Many volunteers participated in this event and we could not have done it without each of them.  From the sponsors to the personal friends who came out to lend a hand, everyone was busy assisting our visitors in one way or another.

WTLX, The Independent Voice and The Country Chronicle helped to get the word out and I had the opportunity to meet many of our neighbors as a result.  The Lake Carolina Farmer’s Market also sent out announcements and we got to see some of our regular customers from the market at the farm.

If you were not able to get there, we are working on plans for the 2020 event. If you are a farm or an artist that would like to participate, feel free to contact me. We would like to include more farms and artists next year.


Photo - Linda Bradley

Photo - Linda Bradley

Photo - Karen Bickley

Photo - Karen Bickley

Photo - Country Chronicle

Photo - Country Chronicle

Volunteers Ted Williams, Kathy Olson and owner Rufus Bradley

Volunteers Ted Williams, Kathy Olson and owner Rufus Bradley

Ag+Art Tour: Purple Tuteur Farm Open House on June 29 and 30th

Many of you have expressed interest in coming out to the farm and we are opening to the public on June 29th and 30th as part of the Richland County Ag+Art Tour!

A Little About Ag+Art

The South Carolina Ag + Art Tour is a free, self-guided tour of farms and markets featuring local artisans at every stop. During the tour visitors have the opportunity to see first-hand where their food and flowers come from, watch artists in action, purchase their works and learn more about rural life. The tour is the largest free farm and art tour in the nation with over 35,000 visitors participating since 2012.

 This is the first year for the tour in Richland County. As a member of the planning committee, I am thrilled to finally see it happen.


 What is Happening at Purple Tuteur Farm during the Ag+Art Tour


Guided Tours

Guided Tour of the farm Saturday June 29 at 11 am and 3 pm

Guided Tour of the farm Sunday June 30 at 2:00 pm

Self-guided Tours all weekend

"Ask a Master Gardener" booth. 

Master Gardeners will be on site to answer basic gardening questions and they will have an activity for children – all weekend

Farm Store

We will have mixed bouquets from the garden available for sale along with a few plants and some pre-chilled lily bulbs that you can plant now for fall bloom!


We have a wonderful group of artisans that will be sharing their talent with us including:

Abstract Alexandra, Painter, painting on site during the tour weekend

This Butter Be Good, Skincare, wellness, art & jewelry

CjStudios, Mixed media

Gallery West, Handmade jewelry, making jewelry on-site

Peace and Mud Pottery, Potter, pottery wheel demonstrations during the tour weekend

All artisans will have items available for sale.

Purple Tuteur Farm is located at 787 Langford Road in Blythewood, S.C.

We hope to see you there over the weekend!


For more detail on the full tour in Richland County follow this link

For more on Ag+Art happenings around the state, go to

So Long Spring!

The recent weather shifts certainly have brought changes to the garden.  No rain for weeks including three days of 100 degree heat, followed by 5 days of rain. And it is only June!

The spring flowers die out as the heat comes on, so ours were quick to fade under these weather conditions. Each year we try something new and this year we tried one called Basket Flower.   

Basket flower (Centaurea americana), native to the United States, is an annual in the same family as Bachelor Buttons. Seeds were sown in the fall and overwintered in the garden.  The first bloom did not show until late May, much later than Bachelor Buttons.  The stems are 4 ft tall, and some growers had them even taller. They grow in full sun/partial shade. The flowers are 2-3” across. They make a lovely cut flower, with a 4 – 5 day vase life.  In the garden, they would do well at the back of the border. Bees love them, so planting them will also help the ecosystem.  Give it a try!

 We hope your summer is getting off to a good start,



Happy Mother's Day!


This is my mom and her mom. I took this picture with a Kodak Instamatic camera when color photos were something of a novelty. I still have the picture but the camera is long gone.

 Mom had picked me up from college for summer break. We then met my grandmother and went to visit her sister, my great aunt. I felt so privileged to be on this adventure, without my siblings or our father. Just me with these wise and caring women who influenced me greatly in positive ways.

My grandmother set a formal table and manners were de rigueur with her. She also loved to bake cookies and had me in the kitchen at an early age. Madeleines and pizzelles were two of her favorites. Baking suited her personality more than it does mine, patience and precision being two of her strengths.  She also had a master’s degree in French, unusual for her generation.

Mom was a teacher, through and through. She instilled a love of learning in me by example. She was always game to explore, to try something new. She studied things she was interested in and was always exposing me to things she thought I would like to learn about.  Mom loved fashion and read Women’s Wear Daily. She could sew and knit beautifully. I love fashion too, which is somewhat amusing since I spend most of my time now in camping shirts and garden boots.

Mom would be happy to know that I am still learning. The passion for growing beautiful flowers is only part of the equation. You also have to study diligently to learn what is required to get the conditions right for each type of flower. I remember my grandmother’s patience as I wait to harvest them at the optimal time.

I am so happy that they shared their gifts and talents with me, enabling me to apply their shared wisdom to my own life. The joy my grandmother shared when the cookies were done, or that my mother shared when she finished a sweater that she had knit for me were such great examples of life well lived. I experience that same joy when I harvest flowers that have come to their most beautiful point and share them with the community.

Hoping that you have warm memories of your mother or are planning to do something special with your mother to celebrate that special bond.

1 Corinthians 13:13 

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Wishing you all a Happy Mother’s Day!


This is Opening Week at the Farmers Markets

We love being part of the local farming community. The farmer's markets give us a chance to meet our clients and show the seasonal bouquets and bunches we have to offer. Prices typically range from $10- $20 depending on the varieties used and number of stems. Come and visit or grab and go! We would love to see you at the markets listed here. We take cash, debit and credit cards. Please follow us on Facebook to be sure we will be at market on a given day. Weather can affect our ability to participate. Hope to see you there!


Click on the blue text below for directions…

Lake Carolina Farmers Market - Every Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. April 25 through October 3rd, 2019 Opening night was April 25th! It was lots of fun and we welcomed several new vendors.

Clemson Sandhills Farmers Market - 2nd and 4th Tuesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. May 7 through August 6, 2019

And new this year:

Blythewood Farmers Market - 1st and 3rd Wednesdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. May 1 through October 30, 2019 I’ve had several requests to participate in this market, so this year we will be alternating weeks between Sandhills and Blythewood markets. This one opens today and I am looking forward to participating!

Richland County, it’s Time to Plant Your Spring Garden!

If you are a gardener in the Columbia SC area, this update is for you! The Master Gardeners of Richland County are holding their annual plant sale on Friday April 26th and Saturday April 27th. This is the only fundraiser each year, so save the date to take advantage of some great deals that will be available.  Here’s the scoop:


In addition to the great plant selection at excellent prices, this year there is a raffle for this gorgeous cotton quilt, made by one of our members. Cotton has been a key agricultural crop in South Carolina and this art reflects its heritage in our state. While you are at the plant sale, buy a raffle ticket for $1 to have a chance to take this beauty home! Or contact a master gardener to purchase tickets before the plant sale. The raffle will be held at the end of the sale and the winner will be contacted by phone. Best of luck! Even if you don’t win, you are helping a great cause in our county.


The Richland County Master Gardener Association (RCMGA) is a not-for-profit organization composed of volunteers whose goal is to promote and teach environmentally sound, research-based gardening practices to the citizens of Richland County, and to provide education to our members needed to accomplish our purpose.

We serve our Clemson and Richland County through such activities as assisting in the county extension office, giving educational programs to the public, and participating in community projects related to gardening.

If you want to learn more about gardening and participate in volunteer projects that enhance our county, consider becoming a Master Gardener. I am proud to be part of this organization.

For information about applying for the Master Gardener classes, contact 803.722.1196 ext. 127. To learn more about the program visit: Clemson Extension Master Gardeners

Hello Spring!

Spring arrived a couple of days ago but today really felt like spring. The cherry trees are blooming and the sky is thankfully clear. The temperatures are warming up and the day length is now longer than the night. These are excellent conditions for getting the fall-planted flowers out of dormancy. The covers are off the beds and we can begin feeding to further encourage growth. In another month to six weeks, we will be able to have blooms like these available on a consistent basis.

Wishing you a wonderful season!


Getting Ready for Spring



In warm climates like South Carolina’s, spring flower preparation starts in the fall. We plant ‘hardy annuals’ in the fall to provide them with enough cool weather to thrive. This group of flowers blooms profusely in the cooler spring and then they fade in our summer heat. This includes things like Bells of Ireland, Bachelor Buttons, Corn Cockle and Larkspur. Most are started from seed sown directly in the garden.

Here at the farm, we have been nurturing many of these varieties since last September. They have needed the heat of late summer to germinate and get established. Then, as the days got shorter and the temperatures dropped, they slowed down above ground but continue to develop strong roots. As the weather has warmed up, the plant growth has resumed. When we get the magic combination of longer days and consistently warmer temperatures they will burst forth, revealing the miracle that they are.


 Between now and then, the fluctuating temperatures call for some special attention. The plants are getting larger and the vegetation is more vulnerable to cold. Frost cloth is used to protect them when we get temperatures below freezing. A freeze is in the forecast for next week, so everything is being covered so that it is protected.  

Looking forward to the end of winter and the day when we can share the spring blooms with you! If you are considering a bouquet subscription, there is still time. You can sign up at

Dianthus under cover

Dianthus under cover