Dividing Alstoemeria & Tomato Hornworms

Question:

I'm in love with Alstroemeria and now have four plants. I want to share them with a few friends, so when is the best time to divide them? 

Answer:

  • Alstroemeria is often called the Peruvian Lilly.
  • They're named after a Swede who collected seeds during a trip to South America. He introduced them to Europe in the eighteenth-century, where they have been popular ever since as a cut flower.
    • Today, the improved varieties are now being planted in Bay Area gardens and grown in containers.
  • Alstroemeria has a striking range of colors and a long flowering season from spring to late autumn; hence their popularity with today's gardeners.
  • Alstroemeria grows in all kinds of soils as long as it's well-drained, so you need to be generous when amending our clay soil.
  • Typically, Alstroemeria flowers ten to fifteen weeks after you plant them. They bloom well for three to four years, after which the stems begin to thin.
    • This is when you should start to think about dividing the plants.
    • The plants are slow to reestablish themselves, so you don't separate them early.
  •  They're divided in the late fall through April. You should handle the divisions carefully when transplanting as the roots or rhizomes are brittle.
    • The foliage should be cut back to six to eight inches above the ground about ten days to two weeks before dividing.
  •  When you dig up the rhizomes, make sure you get all the roots and the growing points as the rhizomes grow twelve to fifteen inches deep. It would help if you got twenty to twenty-five useful rhizomes from a mature plant. 

Question:

Where do tomato worms come from? I check my plants daily but so far I haven't seen any.

Answer:

  • The Tomato Hornworm is the larvae stage of the Hawk Moth. It's also known as the Sphinx or Hummingbird Moth.
    • It over-winters in the soil as dark-brown pupae that emerge as an adult moth in the late spring.
    • The female moth lays smooth, single, green egg(s) on the tomato leaf's underside, and her life span is about a week. Tomato 
  •  Hornworms are voracious eaters, munching entire leaves, small stems, and even parts of immature fruits.
    • They do get quite large, and the horn-like structure on their posterior is where the name 'Hornworm' originates.
    • After three to four weeks of feeding, they will drop to the ground and enter the soil where they change into a two-inch long pupa.
    • Depending on the weather, there may be from one to four generations per year.
  • While they're most commonly associated with tomatoes, hornworms are common pests of eggplants, peppers, and potatoes.
  • Most likely, you'll notice the damage before you see the hornworms because their color helps them blend in so well with the plant foliage.
  • You can also look for their black droppings on the foliage and around the base of the plant. Since you haven't seen any as yet, it suggests that they may not be a problem this year.
  • The Hornworm season runs through September and checking the plants weekly is sufficient