Ask the ISU Extension Garden Experts About: Raspberry Pruning, Azaleas and Tulips

Pruning raspberries

What is the proper way to prune fall-bearing red raspberries in early spring? 

Popular fall-bearing red raspberry varieties include ‘Heritage,’ ‘Redwing,’ ‘Caroline,’ and ‘Autumn Bliss.’ Fall-bearing red raspberries naturally produce two crops. One crop is produced in summer on the previous year’s growth; a second crop is produced in late summer or early fall at the tips of the current year’s growth. Fall-bearing red raspberries can be pruned two different ways in March or early April. 

One pruning option is to prune out all weak, diseased and damaged canes at ground level. Leave the largest, most vigorous canes. Cut back the tips of the canes that remain. Remove approximately the upper one-third of the canes. This option provides two crops during the year. 

The second option is to prune all canes back to the ground in late winter/early spring.  This pruning option produces a single crop in late summer or early fall. (The summer crop is eliminated.) While only one crop is produced, total crop yield is actually larger than the two-crop system. 

Red raspberries sucker profusely from their roots. To prevent the planting from becoming a wide, unmanageable thicket, red raspberries should be confined to a one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow. Shoots growing beyond the one- to two-foot-wide hedgerow should be destroyed using a rototiller or spade. 

Caring for azaleas

I recently received a flowering azalea as a gift. How do I care for it?

In the home, place the azalea in a brightly lit, cool location. An ideal site is one near a window that receives bright light (but no direct sunlight) and temperatures of 60 to 65 F. 

An important aspect of caring for an azalea is proper watering. Water needs can be determined with the finger test. Check the potting soil daily with your finger. When the soil surface becomes dry to the touch, water the plant until water begins to flow out the bottom of the pot. The pots of most azaleas are placed inside decorative pot covers.  When watering the azalea, carefully remove the pot covering, water the plant in the sink, then drop the azalea back into the pot cover. 

If placed in a favorable location and given good care, azaleas may bloom for two to four weeks. 

Saving forced tulips

Can I save tulips that have been forced indoors? 

Tulips and most other spring-flowering bulbs are normally discarded after forcing. Attempts to save forced bulbs usually are unsuccessful as few bloom again when planted outdoors. Daffodils are an exception. If given good care, forced daffodils can be successfully planted outdoors. 

Plant care is important when attempting to save forced spring-flowering bulbs. After blooming, remove the spent flowers and place the plants in a sunny window. Water the plants regularly until the foliage turns yellow. At this point, stop watering and allow the foliage to wither and turn brown. When the foliage is dead, carefully remove the bulbs from the potting soil, allow them to dry for several days, then store the bulbs in a cool, dry location until fall planting.