February 23, 2001

Starting Tuberous Begonias

Tuberous begonias are popular flowering plants for shady, protected sites in the home landscape. Generally, sites that receive morning sun and afternoon shade are the best planting locations. Tuberous begonias are commonly planted in pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, and in beds or borders. They are available in a variety of colors, flower forms, and plant habits. Blossoms may be single or double, plain or ruffled. Flower colors include white, pink, red, orange, yellow, and bicolors. Plants may be upright or trailing.

Recommended Plants for a Butterfly Garden

The following plants will attract and encourage butterflies in Iowa. Most provide nectar for adults; others (marked with a C ) are a necessary food source for specific caterpillars. Refer to Food Preferences of Common Iowa Butterflies. Some plants support both caterpillars and adult butterflies (for example, asters, milkweeds and thistles). Inclusion of a plant does not constitute an endorsement of its use. Evaluate carefully your site and all available information before deciding to plant or retain any plants in your landscape.

Proper Pruning of Trees

The late dormant period (February to early April) is an excellent time to prune deciduous trees. The absence of foliage at this time of year gives the home gardener a clear view of the tree and allows him/her to select and remove appropriate branches. Also, the "healing" processes (wound compartmentalization and callus formation) occur most rapidly just prior to the onset of growth in spring. Proper pruning improves the appearance, maintains the health, and prolongs the life of trees. Improper pruning destroys their natural beauty, weakens them, and may lead to their premature death.