Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
When should material for hardwood stem cuttings be collected?
Answer:

Material for hardwood stem cuttings should be collected in late winter (when the plant material is dormant) from wood of the previous season’s growth.  In Iowa, hardwood stem cutting material should be collected in late February or early...

Question:
What is the proper size of hardwood stem cuttings?
Answer:

The length of most hardwood stem cuttings varies from 4 to 12 inches.  However, the cuttings of some plants may be up to 30 inches in length.  The diameter of hardwood stem cuttings typically ranges from ¼ to 1 inch.  Each cutting...

Question:
What is the procedure for rooting hardwood stem cuttings?
Answer:

After cutting the material to the proper length, dip the bottom of each cutting in a rooting hormone.  Gather the cuttings together (placing all the tops in one direction) and secure them with twine or rubber bands.  Place the bundled...

Question:
What are hardwood stem cuttings?

Answer:

Plants can be propagated by a number of different methods.  Hardwood stem cuttings utilize shoots of the previous year’s growth on trees, shrubs, and vines to produce new plants. 

Question:
Which plants can be propagated from hardwood stem cuttings?
Answer:

Several woody trees, shrubs, and vines can be propagated by hardwood stem cuttings.  Plants that can be propagated by this method include willow, poplar, dogwood, forsythia, wisteria, grape, currant, gooseberry, and elderberry. 

Question:
What materials are needed to make hardwood stem cuttings?
Answer:

Materials needed to make hardwood stem cuttings include a pruning shears, rooting hormone, plastic bag, and sphagnum moss or wood shavings.  Use the pruning shears to collect cutting material and also cut the shoots to the proper length....

Question:
In regards to tree fruits, what is meant by the term self-unfruitful?
Answer:

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma.  After pollination and fertilization, fruit set occurs.  There are two types of pollination.  Self-pollination occurs when the pollen is transferred from the...

Question:
Will a crabapple pollinate a nearby apple tree?
Answer:

A crabapple is a type of apple.  The main difference between an apple and a crabapple is the size of the fruit.  A crabapple is a tree that produces fruit that are less than 2 inches in diameter.  An apple tree produces fruit that...

Question:
Are there any trees or shrubs that bloom in winter?
Answer:

While most trees and shrubs bloom in spring or summer, witch hazels are a notable exception. Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms from mid-October to early December.  Vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) and...

Question:
How do I care for a jade plant?
Answer:

Place the jade plant (Crassula argentea) in a sunny window where it receives at least 4 hours of direct sunlight.  The jade plant is a succulent which stores water in its foliage and stems.  Overwatering (watering too...

Question:
How do I care for an umbrella tree?
Answer:

The umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) is native to rainforests in Australia and New Guinea.  In the home, place the umbrella tree in bright, indirect light near an east, west, or south window.  Allow the potting soil to...

Question:
Are sweet cherries hardy in Iowa?
Answer:

‘Gold,’ BlackGold™, and WhiteGold™ are sweet cherry varieties (cultivars) that can be successfully grown in the southern two-thirds of Iowa.  ‘Gold’ has golden yellow skin.  It is self-unfruitful.  Another late blooming sweet...

Question:
How do the various types of peas differ?
Answer:

There are three main types of peas.  The garden pea is grown for shelling.  Snow and snap peas are edible podded peas. 

The garden or English pea has been widely grown for years.  Garden peas are harvested when the pods...

Question:
What is a good planting site for cherry trees?
Answer:

Cherries perform best in moist, well-drained, fertile soils.  Avoid wet, poorly drained sites.  Cherries are susceptible to root rots in wet, poorly drained soils.  Trees should also receive full sun.  Sites must receive at...

Question:
What are some good pea varieties for the home garden?
Answer:

Suggested garden pea cultivars for home gardens in Iowa include ‘Little Marvel’ (early season, short vines), ‘Spring’ (early season, short vines), ‘Knight’ (early season, short vines), ‘Lincoln’ (mid to late season, very sweet), ‘Green Arrow’ (...

Question:
When is the best time to plant asparagus?
Answer:

Early spring (April) is the best time to plant an asparagus bed in Iowa.  Since asparagus is a perennial crop, carefully consider possible sites.  Asparagus performs best in well-drained soils in full sun.  In poorly drained sites...

Question:
When should peas be planted in the garden?
Answer:

Peas are a cool season crop.  They should be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in spring (late March or early April in central Iowa).  Sow seeds 1 inch deep and 2 inches apart.  Peas can be planted in single or double...

Question:
What are some good asparagus varieties for home gardens in Iowa?
Answer:

Asparagus is dioecious.  Dioecious plants produce separate male and female plants.  Male asparagus plants live longer and are more productive than female plants.  Excellent all-male asparagus varieties for the home garden include ‘...

Question:
What are some good onion varieties for Iowa?
Answer:

Suggested onion varieties for home gardens in Iowa include ‘Copra’ (main season, yellow-brown skin, excellent storage), ‘Candy’ (yellow-brown skin, globe-shaped, short term storage), ‘Red Burgermaster’ (bright red, globe-shaped, good storage), ‘...

Question:
How do you plant asparagus?
Answer:

Asparagus crowns should be planted in shallow trenches or furrows.  The planting depth depends on the soil type.  Asparagus crowns should be planted 6 to 8 inches deep in light, sandy soils, but only 4 to 6 inches deep in heavier soils...

Question:
What is the proper way to plant onion sets?
Answer:

Before planting sets, separate the bulbs into two size groups -- those smaller than a nickel in diameter and those larger than a nickel.  The larger sets often bolt (produce a flower stalk) and don’t produce good-sized bulbs.  Use the...

Question:
After planting asparagus, how long must I wait before I can begin to harvest spears?
Answer:

Asparagus plants should be allowed to become well established before any spears are harvested.  No spears should be harvested during the first growing season.  Asparagus can be harvested over a three to four week period during its...

Question:
When planting potatoes, do I need to purchase certified seed potatoes?
Answer:

Since potatoes are susceptible to several serious diseases, buy certified, disease-free potatoes at garden centers and mail-order nurseries.  Potatoes that remain from last year's crop may carry undetectable diseases.  Potatoes...

Question:
What is the proper way to prune grapevines?
Answer:

Grapevines produce fruit clusters on the previous season’s growth.  Before pruning, a grapevine may have 200 to 300 buds capable of producing fruit.  If the vine is not pruned, the number of grape clusters would be excessive and the...

Question:
When cutting potato tubers into pieces prior to planting, what is the proper size for the sections?
Answer:

Small potato tubers may be planted whole.  Large potatoes should be cut into sections or pieces.  Each seed piece should contain one or two “eyes” or buds and weigh approximately 1.5 to 2.0 ounces.  After cutting the tubers into...

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