Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
How do I germinate hickory nuts?
Answer:

Hickory nuts need to be exposed to cold temperatures and moist conditions before they will germinate. (The cold-moist requirement is referred to as stratification.) The cold-moist requirement can be met by planting the nuts in the ground in fall...

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:
What is mistletoe?
Answer:

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant with leathery, evergreen leaves and small, white berries. Mistletoe plants manufacture their own food, but obtain water and mineral nutrients from a host plant. Host plants include numerous deciduous and...

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 is this sticky substance all over the table, floor, and lower leaves of my houseplant?
Answer:

Honeydew is a sticky, sugar-rich substance produced by insects that suck sap from plant leaves and stems.  This excretion often coats lower leaves, tables, and floors and when severe, may promote the growth of black sooty mold. 

...
Question:
Why is my houseplant wilting?
Answer:

Wilting is the result of roots not being able to provide adequate moisture to the leaves and stems.  It can be caused by two completely opposite reasons, either under-watering or over-watering, which can make it difficult to diagnose and...

Question:
What causes leaves on my houseplant to turn yellow or brown and drop off?
Answer:

Yellowing, browning, and dropping of leaves is one of the most vague and difficult issues to deal with because it can be caused by a wide variety of issues. Many of the problems seen in houseplants are not caused by just one factor, they are the...

Question:
Why does my houseplant have brown leaf tips and edges?
Answer:

Brown leaf tips or edges can happen on any indoor plant but are common on some species like spider plant and dracaena.  Trimming the brown portions off the leaves with a scissors can improve appearance, but new browning will occur if...

Question:
Are philodendrons poisonous?
Answer:

Yes.  Philodendrons and closely related species contain calcium oxalate crystals which are toxic to humans, dogs, cats, and other animals.  When any part of the plant is eaten, it may cause pain and swelling in the lips, mouth, tongue,...

Question:
How do I propagate philodendron?
Answer:

Trailing types of philodendron propagate easily from stem cuttings.  Stem sections 3 to 6 inches long with the lower leaves removed will readily root in water or rooting media, like perlite or well-drained potting soil.  If rooting in...

Question:
What do I do with the aerial roots of a philodendron?
Answer:

Most philodendron species will produce aerial roots which allows them to successfully grow on or up other trees in their native habitats.  In the home, these roots can help trailing types climb a trellis or moss pole or help the plant...

Question:
What are popular types of philodendron?
Answer:

This large tropical plant genus is divided into two major types: climbing and non-climbing. 

Climbing Types

Those that climb or vine look great on a trellis, moss pole, or growing in a hanging basket.  They include...

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

Philodendrons are native to the low-light understory of tropical forests, primarily in Central and South America.  Because of this, they prefer indirect or dappled light.  Some varieties, like heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron...

Question:
How do I get my orchid to rebloom?
Answer:

Some orchids bloom annually, others will bloom continuously.  Providing all the proper environmental conditions (light, temperature, water, fertilizer, etc.) will allow for the orchid to bloom well. 

There are many factors that...

Question:
What is the history of the poinsettia?
Answer:

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is native to Mexico. In Mexico, the poinsettia is a large shrub or small tree that may reach a height of 10 to 15 feet.  

Poinsettias were cultivated by the Aztecs, who called the plant...

Question:
How can I over-winter unplanted perennials still in their containers?
Answer:

If a perennial cannot be planted in its final spot before winter arrives, you will need to take steps to make sure it survives the winter while still in the container.

Container-grown perennials should not be left outdoors above ground...

Question:
How can I prevent deer browsing and feeding during the winter months?
Answer:

Deer may feed on trees and shrubs during the winter months and severely damage or destroy plants.  Damage is most likely to occur when food is scarce during prolonged periods of snow cover.  Deer often feed on the foliage on the lower...

Question:
What do I do with fall planted cool-season annuals when winter arrives?
Answer:

Cool-season annuals are annual plants that prefer cool temperatures, growing best in spring or fall. Many are tolerant of a light frost often surviving down to 28°F or sometimes even 25°F with little damage to flowers or leaves.

Cool-...

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:
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:
What types of Christmas trees are available?
Answer:

Many species of trees are available as cut Christmas trees in both local tree farms and commercial lots. The species you select will depend on attributes like color, shape, needle retention, aroma, and branch stiffness (to hold up heavy ornaments...

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:
How can I propagate a rubber tree?
Answer:

The common rubber tree (Ficus elastica) can be propagated by air layering.  Air layering is a procedure used to induce roots to form on a plant stem while it is still attached to the parent plant.  Complete or partial girdling...

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