February 9, 1996

Starting Impatiens from Seeds

Impatiens are excellent plants for shady areas in the home landscape. Impatiens are ideal for flower beds, planters, and hanging baskets. Their versatility and adaptability to shade have made impatiens the most popular annual bedding plant in the United States. Impatiens are relatively easy to grow from seeds. However, they are slow growing. Home gardeners should sow seeds in early to mid-February to produce stocky transplants by spring. Suggested impatiens for Iowa include varieties in the Accent, Impact, and Super Elfin series. Plants in these series are compact and free flowering.

Successful Seed Germination

A seed is a miracle waiting to happen. The embryo comes pre-packaged with a food supply and the vital genetic information needed to become a plant just like its parents. Seeds exist in a state of dormancy, absorbing oxygen, giving off carbon dioxide, and slowly using up their stored food reserves. During this process the seed continually monitors the external environment waiting for ideal conditions specific for the particular seed. Once the ideal conditions occur, the seed breaks dormancy and germinates.

New Turfgrass Reference Books

Two new reference books on turfgrass integrated pest management are now available. What follows are descriptions taken from publisher promotional materials.

MANAGING TURFGRASS PESTS, by Thomas L. Watschke, Pennsylvania State University, Peter H. Dernoeden, University of Maryland, and David J. Shetlar, Ohio State University. 1994. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. ISBN: 0-87371-999-9. $69.95.

Plant Hardiness Zone Maps

Every so often, a winter comes along that tests our mettle, and so far the winter of 1996 seems to be one of those occasions. Blizzards, dangerous wind-chills, and record breaking low temperatures turn even a simple trip to the grocery store into an epic battle for survival. But have you ever wondered how our landscape plants manage to survive climatic extremes.