Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
How do I store salsify?
Answer:

Harvest salsify in mid- to late November as cool fall temperatures enhance the oyster-like flavor of the roots.  After harvest, trim off the foliage 1 inch above the roots and store the salsify at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit and a...

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 there ornamental grasses with colorful fall foliage?
Answer:

Several ornamental grasses develop good fall color.  Switchgrass (Panicum spp.) cultivars with colorful fall foliage include ‘Rehbraun’ (reddish brown), ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ (burgundy red), and ‘Prairie Fire’ (wine red).  In fall,...

Question:
I planted fountain grass in the garden this spring. Will it survive the winter?
Answer:

There are several species of fountain grass.  Perennial fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) is a perennial grass.  It is hardy in much of Iowa.  Annual fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) is a widely grown...

Question:
How do I store parsnips?
Answer:

Harvest parsnips in mid- to late November as cool fall temperatures convert starch to sugar and give parsnips their distinctive flavor.  After harvest, trim the foliage back to within 1 inch of the roots.  Store parsnips at a...

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

Early fall is an excellent time to plant Asiatic, Oriental, and other garden lilies.  Plant lily bulbs at a depth equal to three times their diameter.  Container-grown lilies can also be planted in spring and summer.  Plant...

Question:
When should you harvest Asian pears?
Answer:

Asian pears (sometimes referred to as apple pears because of their round shape and crisp, firm texture) can be successfully grown in the southern half of Iowa.  Popular cultivars include ‘Chojuro,’ ‘Hosui,’ and ‘Shinseiki.’  

...

Question:
How do I control crabgrass in my flower bed?
Answer:

Crabgrass is an annual weed.  In flower and vegetable gardens, hoeing and hand pulling are the best control options.  When cultivating the garden, avoid deep tillage.  The roots of many vegetables and flowers grow near the soil...

Question:
The leaves on my sycamore have a bleached appearance in late summer. Why?
Answer:

The bleached appearance may be due to lace bugs.  Lace bugs are sap feeding insects commonly found on the leaves of shade and ornamental trees in Iowa.  The most commonly affected trees are hackberry, sycamore, and oak.  Adult lace...

Question:
How do I control white clover in my lawn?
Answer:

White clover (Trifolium repens) is a creeping perennial.  It is a common plant in many Iowa lawns because it is a prolific seed producer and adapts well to mowing and other lawn care practices.  Its presence is often a sign of...

Question:
When is the best time to apply a broadleaf herbicide to the lawn?
Answer:

Fall (mid-September to early November) is the best time to control perennial broadleaf weeds in the lawn with broadleaf herbicides.  In fall, perennial broadleaf weeds are transporting food (carbohydrates) from their foliage to their roots...

Question:
How can I over-winter my geraniums indoors?
Answer:

Geraniums can be overwintered indoors by potting up individual plants, taking cuttings, or storing bare-root plants in a cool, dry location.  Remove plants from the garden (or take cuttings) prior to the first fall frost.  

Question:
How do you over-winter geraniums as bare-root plants?
Answer:

Carefully dig up the geraniums before the first fall frost.  Shake the soil from the plant’s roots.  Then place one or two plants in a large paper sack and store in a cool (45 to 55 degree Fahrenheit), dry location.  An unheated...

Question:
How do you over-winter geraniums as potted plants?
Answer:

Carefully dig up each plant before the first fall frost and place in a large container.  Water each plant thoroughly, then place the geraniums in a bright, sunny window or under artificial lighting.  Geraniums prefer cool indoor...

Question:
How do I take geranium cuttings?
Answer:

Using a sharp knife, take 3- to 4-inch stem cuttings from the terminal ends of the shoots.  Pinch off the lower leaves, then dip the base of each cutting in a rooting hormone.  Stick the cuttings into a rooting medium of vermiculite or...

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

October is the ideal time to plant tulips, daffodils, and other spring-flowering bulbs in Iowa.  When planted in October, spring-flowering bulbs have sufficient time to develop a good root system before the ground freezes in winter.  If...

Question:
What are good planting sites for tulips?
Answer:

Tulips perform best in partial to full sun.  Planting sites should receive at least 6 hours of direct sun per day.  Tulip bulbs also need a well-drained, fertile soil.  

Question:
How deep should I plant tulips?
Answer:

Plant spring-flowering bulbs at a depth equal to 3 to 4 times their maximum bulb diameter.  Accordingly, tulips and daffodils should be planted 6 to 8 inches deep, crocuses and grape hyacinths 3 to 4 inches deep.  Large bulbs, such as...

Question:
Which are the best tulips for perennializing?
Answer:

Most modern tulip varieties bloom well for only 3 or 4 years.  However, there are some tulip types (classes) that bloom well over a longer time period. 

Darwin hybrid tulips are generally the longest blooming hybrid tulip. ...

Question:
I've been told that tiger lilies should not be planted near Asiatic lilies. Is this true?
Answer:

Many lily enthusiasts don’t grow tiger lilies (Lilium tigrinum) because they are often infected with lily mosaic virus.  Lily mosaic virus causes little harm to tiger lilies.  Oftentimes, you can’t tell that they have the...

Question:
How do you force spring-flowering bulbs indoors?
Answer:

Spring-flowering bulbs that can be forced indoors include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses.  While many bulb varieties can be forced, best results are obtained by selecting varieties recommended for forcing.  To enjoy spring-...

Question:
How do I germinate acorns?
Answer:

Acorns should be collected as soon as they fall to the ground.  Sound, viable acorns can be separated from damaged or unfilled acorns by placing them in water.  Sound acorns will sink.  Most floating acorns are not viable and can...

Question:
Parts of the berries on my red raspberries are white in color. Why?
Answer:

A raspberry fruit (berry) is composed of over 50 drupelets.  The white colored drupelets are likely due to sunscald or white drupelet disorder.  Sunscald and white drupelet disorder are physiological disorders caused by sun exposure (...

Question:
My oak tree produced just a few acorns this year. Why?
Answer:

It’s common for the acorn crop on oak trees to vary from year to year. Most oak species produce a good crop of acorns once every two or three years.  However, the white oak tends to produce a good acorn crop once every four to six years....

Pages