Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
What is the proper way to prune a large tree branch?
Answer:

To prevent extensive bark damage, use a 3-cut procedure when pruning branches that are greater than 1½ inches in diameter.  Make the first cut 6 to 12 inches from the main branch or trunk.  Cut upward and go about one-third of the way...

Question:
Sap is flowing from a pruning cut on my maple tree. Should I be concerned?
Answer:

Some tree species, such as maple, birch, and elm, “bleed” heavily when pruned in late winter or early spring.  However, the loss of sap does not harm the trees.  The trees will not “bleed” to death.  Eventually the flow of sap will...

Question:
My onions don't store well. Why?
Answer:

The storage life of onions is largely determined by the variety (cultivar), harvesting and drying procedures, and storage conditions. 

When selecting onions, choose varieties that store well, such as ‘Copra,’ ‘Stuttgarter,’ and ‘Sweet...

Question:
There are black growths on the branches of my chokecherry. What should I do?
Answer:

The black growths are probably black knot.  Black knot is a fungal disease that occurs on chokecherry, European birdcherry, and several other wild and cultivated cherries and plums.  The black growths (galls) can vary from a few inches...

Question:
Why are my potatoes beginning to sprout?
Answer:

Potatoes should be stored at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 90 to 95 percent.  Tubers often begin to sprout if storage temperatures are above 50 degrees F.  Also, don’t store potatoes with apples or...

Question:
My acorn squash turn yellow during storage. Why?
Answer:

The problem may be improper storage.  Acorn-type squashes should be stored at a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Some acorn-type squashes will turn yellow when stored at temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  High...

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

The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a member of the milkweed family.  Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and produce flat-topped clusters of bright orange flowers from July through September.  Their flowers attract several...

Question:
Can the butterfly weed be divided?
Answer:

The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a member of the milkweed family.  Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall and produce flat-topped clusters of bright orange flowers from July through September.  Their flowers attract several...

Question:
When should I start tuberous begonias indoors?
Answer:

Plant tuberous begonia tubers indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the average last spring frost in your area.  (Flowering typically begins 12 to 14 weeks after planting.)  Start tuberous begonias in pots or other suitable containers.  All...

Question:
My African violets aren't blooming well. Why?
Answer:

The African violets may not be receiving adequate light.  The proper amount of light is essential for good bloom.  Generally, windows with north or east exposures are best for African violets.  However, if these exposures are not...

Question:
How do I care for a poinsettia?
Answer:

Place the poinsettia in a plant sleeve or carefully wrap it before transporting the plant home.  Exposing the poinsettia to freezing temperatures, even for a few minutes, may cause its bracts and leaves to blacken and drop.  As soon as...

Question:
Is the poinsettia poisonous?
Answer:

The poinsettia has long been regarded as poisonous.  However, research conducted at various institutions has shown the poinsettia is not poisonous.  While the poinsettia is not poisonous, it is not intended for human or animal...

Question:
How do you care for a cineraria?
Answer:

The cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida) is a flowering plant that is typically sold at floral shops and other retailers from mid-winter to early spring.  Plants produce clusters of 1- to 3-inch-diameter, daisy-like flowers....

Question:
How do you care for a gloxinia?
Answer:

The gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa) is a flowering houseplant that’s related to the African violet.  Plants produce large, velvety, bell-shaped flowers that may be white, pink, red, purple, or blue.  Gloxinias are commonly sold...

Question:
I recently purchased a primrose at a florist. How do I care for it?
Answer:

Primroses (Primula species) are typically sold at florist shops and greenhouses in late winter or early spring.  Plants produce attractive, 1- to 1½- inch-diameter flowers above a rosette of leaves.  Flowers may be white,...

Question:
Why does my fig tree lose some of its leaves during the winter?
Answer:

Environmental conditions indoors during the winter months are often rather poor.  Low light levels, cold drafts, low relative humidities, and other environmental factors are stressful to plants.  The stressful conditions may cause figs...

Question:
The leaves on my houseplant are covered with a sticky sap. There are also small "bumps" on the stems. What is the problem?
Answer:

The houseplant may be infested with scale insects.  These small, inconspicuous insects are covered with shell-like coverings.  They attach themselves to stems or leaves and suck sap from the plants.  As they feed, the scale insects...

Question:
How do I care for a calceolaria?
Answer:

Place calceolarias in a brightly lit, cool location.  The location should receive bright light, but not direct sunlight.  Ideal temperatures are 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  Check the potting soil daily.  When the surface of...

Question:
Is snow beneficial to landscape plants?
Answer:

A layer of snow is beneficial to many plants in the garden and landscape.  A layer of snow protects plants from extreme cold and the drying effects from sun and wind.  A layer of snow also prevents repeated freezing and thawing of the...

Question:
My shrubs are flopping over due to the weight of heavy, wet snow. What should I do?
Answer:

The weight of heavy, wet snow can cause considerable damage to small trees and shrubs.  When heavy, wet snow accumulates on small trees and shrubs, gently shake the snow from their branches or carefully brush off the snow with a broom....

Question:
My poinsettia suddenly wilted and died. Why?
Answer:

The sudden death of the poinsettia was likely due to a root rot.  Pythium and Rhizoctonia root rots typically occur when plants are watered too frequently and the potting soil is kept saturated.  Allow the surface of the potting soil to...

Question:
Small, white insects flutter about my poinsettia when I water the plant. What are they and how do I control them?
Answer:

The small, white insects are likely whiteflies.  Whiteflies are common insect pests of poinsettia, hibiscus, chrysanthemum, and a number of other indoor plants.  They are most often noticed when watering or handling a plant.  When...

Question:
Can paperwhite narcissus bulbs be saved after they have been forced indoors?
Answer:

Paperwhite narcissus bulbs should be discarded after flowering.  Paperwhites cannot be successfully forced again and are not winter hardy outdoors. 

Question:
When are trees and shrubs most vulnerable to rabbit browsing?
Answer:

In the home landscape, rabbits feed on herbaceous plants (annuals, perennials, vegetables, and grasses) during the growing season.  Trees and shrubs become food sources in late fall and winter (December through March).  Damage to trees...

Question:
An amaryllis bulb saved from a previous year produces leaves, but doesn’t bloom. Why?
Answer:

An amaryllis bulb purchased at a garden center or other retail business typically blooms 6 to 8 weeks after the bulb is potted up.  In succeeding years, proper cultural practices must be followed to get the bulb to bloom on an annual basis...

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