Frequently Asked Questions

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:
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:
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 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:
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:
What is the proper way to prune black raspberries in late winter/early spring?
Answer:

In March or early April, remove all small, weak canes, leaving only 4 or 5 of the largest, most vigorous canes per clump or plant.  Cut back the lateral (side) branches to 12 inches in length.   

Question:
What would be a good planting site for strawberries?
Answer:

When selecting a planting site, choose an area that receives full sun and has a well-drained soil.  Planting sites should receive at least 6 hours of direct sun per day.  Leaf and root diseases are often problems in poorly drained, wet...

Question:
What is the proper way to plant strawberries?
Answer:

When ready to plant, trim off the older leaves, place the roots of the plants in water for an hour, then plant immediately.  Set each plant in the ground so the crown of the plant is even with the soil surface. 

The type of...

Question:
What are the differences between the different types of strawberries?
Answer:

There are basically 3 types of strawberries grown in home gardens.  They differ in growth, flowering, and fruiting characteristics. 

June-bearers are the most widely planted type of strawberry.  June-bearing strawberries...

Question:
Should I fertilize my fruit trees?
Answer:

It is generally not necessary to fertilize fruit trees in Iowa.  Most Iowa soils can supply sufficient amounts of nutrients to fruit trees.  Check tree growth to determine whether fruit trees need fertilization.  Young, nonbearing...

Question:
When should I apply a dormant oil spray to my fruit trees?
Answer:

Dormant oil sprays are highly refined petroleum products that are mixed with water and applied to trees and shrubs to control aphids, spider mites, and scale.  Dormant oils destroy pests by suffocating them.  When applied properly, the...

Question:
When should I prune my fruit trees?
Answer:

Late February to early April is the best time to prune fruit trees in Iowa.  Summer pruning of fruit trees is generally not recommended.  However, water sprouts (rapidly growing shoots that often develop just below a pruning cut) can be...

Question:
Which sour (tart) cherry varieties perform well in Iowa?
Answer:

‘Northstar’ and ‘Meteor’ are two of the best performing sour cherry varieties in Iowa.  Both varieties were introduced by the University of Minnesota and possess excellent cold hardiness.  ‘Northstar’ is a dwarf tree that commonly grows...

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:
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:
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:
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:
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...

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