Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
How do I care for Gerber daisy purchased as a flowering potted plant at the florist?
Answer:

Gerber daisy is frequently sold in florist shops and garden centers during the spring and fall.  Plants prefer cooler temperatures.  Place in bright, indirect or direct light indoors.  Soil should be moist but well-drained. ...

Question:
How do I care for Kalanchoe?
Answer:

Kalanchoe grows well in bright indoor locations.  Keep at moderate temperatures (45-65 °F at night and 50-70 °F during the day).  Keeping plants on the cool side will help prolong flower life.  Allow the soil to dry between...

Question:
How do I care for a potted flowering gardenia purchased at the florist?
Answer:

Place gardenia in a brightly lit, cool location.  The location should receive bright light, but not direct sunlight.  Ideal temperatures are 55 to 65°F during the night and 65 to 75°F during the day.  Check the potting soil...

Question:
I received a potted, flowering mum as a gift. How do I care for it?
Answer:

In the home, place the mum in a brightly lit, cool location.  An ideal site is one near a window that receives bright light (but no direct sunlight) and temperatures of 60 to 70°F. 

...

Question:
I received potted forced spring bulbs as a gift. How do I care for them?
Answer:

Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring bulbs are frequently available from florists and garden centers in winter.  When purchasing these potted forced spring bulbs, select those that have fully developed buds but have not yet opened...

Question:
How do I care for a potted, blooming hydrangea?
Answer:

Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is frequently sold in garden centers and floral shops during winter and early spring and features large ball-shaped clusters of blue or pink flowers. Place hydrangeas in bright, indirect light...

Question:
How are blue orchids made?
Answer:

Occasionally a florist or garden center will have vibrant blue moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) for sale.  Blue is not a color that naturally occurs in orchids.  These orchids are typically white flowers dyed to achieve this unique...

Question:
Should I prune my rose back in the fall?
Answer:

No.  Pruning stimulates new growth.  That new growth will not have an opportunity to properly harden off before winter leaving it vulnerable to more winter damage.

Even established growth that has properly hardened off will see...

Question:
How should I prune shrub roses?
Answer:

While most shrub or landscape roses are winter-hardy in Iowa, there is still typically some branch die-back over winter.  Gardeners should prune out the dead wood just as the new buds are turning green and breaking in spring - typically...

Question:
When should I prune shrub roses?
Answer:

Old garden roses, hybrid rugosas, and other hardy shrub or landscape roses often survive Iowa's winters with little or no winter injury.  If there is any winter injury, it can be pruned back to live wood just as the new buds are turning...

Question:
Will indoor grown herbs taste the same as those grown outdoors?
Answer:

Many indoor grown herbs are not as strong or as intensely flavored compared to those grown outside. However, basil will always taste like basil whether it is grown indoors or outdoors.

Question:
How do I harvest and use herbs grown indoors?
Answer:

Harvest herbs indoors as you would if grown outdoors. Most do well with periodic snipping as they are needed in the kitchen. Leafy annual herbs, like basil, chervil, and parsley, can be cut back severely when harvested. Using a sharp knife or...

Question:
How can I provide more light for my herbs indoors?
Answer:

Providing enough light for herbs to grow well indoors, especially during the winter months when days are shorter, is difficult. Some herbs will tolerate as little as six hours of direct light a day but most want eight or more hours each day. When...

Question:
What growing conditions are best for indoor herbs?
Answer:

Light is typically the most limiting factor to successfully growing herbs indoors. Plants will need as much direct sunlight as you can provide. Most herbs need around eight hours of direct light each day when grown indoors. A south-facing sunny...

Question:
Which herbs are best for growing indoors?
Answer:

Just about any herb has the potential to be grown indoors. There are, however, a few species that do better with indoor growing conditions. These herbs tolerate the lower light levels, low humidity, and cooler temperatures indoors, making them...

Question:
How do I care for a waxed amaryllis bulb?
Answer:

Amaryllis bulbs coated in colorful and decorative wax are available in many catalogs, stores, and garden centers.  Waxed amaryllis bulbs are easy to care for and grow as they require no water or soil.  Simply place the bulb in bright,...

Question:
When should I repot my amaryllis?
Answer:

Amaryllis bulbs don’t require frequent repotting. It’s usually sufficient to repot amaryllis bulbs every three or four years. The best time to repot an amaryllis bulb is immediately after its rest period (cool period has been met). Remove the...

Question:
How do I over-winter the common fig?
Answer:

Common or edible figs (Ficus carica) are not reliably cold hardy in Iowa. The stems of ‘Chicago Hardy’ (considered one of the hardiest edible fig cultivars) are hardy to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the plant’s roots are hardy to 15 to 20...

Question:
Can I grow herbs indoors over the winter?
Answer:

Many herbs can be successfully grown indoors during the winter months. The best herbs to grow indoors include basil, cilantro, parsley, chervil, rosemary, bay laurel, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, and lemongrass.

Light is often the...

Question:
What trees bloom in spring?
Answer:

While most deciduous trees have flowers of some kind in springtime, they tend to be small and not showy.  There are several species of smaller, ornamental trees that have showy blooms in the spring. 

The eastern redbud...

Question:
What shrubs bloom in early spring?
Answer:

Several species of shrubs can help get your spring off to a colorful start.  These multi-stemmed woody plants vary in size and often bloom before the leaves emerge in spring. 

Vernal witchhazel (Hamamelis...

Question:
What perennials bloom in early spring?
Answer:

One of the first signs of spring is the emergence of crocuses, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs. Several other perennials also bloom in early spring and complement these familiar bulbs.

Lenten Rose (...

Question:
How do I know if I am providing the right amount of light for my seedlings?
Answer:

 

Careful observation of your seedlings will help you determine if the light levels are appropriate.  Seedlings that are not receiving enough light will stretch and lean towards the light source.  Use a brighter fixture that...

Question:
How do I set up supplemental lights for my seedlings?
Answer:

Supplemental lights need to oriented relatively close to the seedlings to be effective and therefore need to be adjustable in height to accommodate the growing plants.  For most fluorescent fixtures, the seedlings should be 4 to 6 inches...

Question:
What type of lights should I use to start seedlings indoors?
Answer:

Fluorescent or LED Lights

For most home gardeners, a plug-in shop fluorescent or LED light fixture is the perfect type of light to use for seed starting.  When shopping for fluorescent lights, look for high-output, full-spectrum (...

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