Extension News

Ask the ISU Experts

Note to media editors:

Got gardening questions? Call the Hortline at (515) 294-3108, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m., or e-mail us at hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information, visit us at Yard and Garden Online, http://www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu


My acorn squash turn yellow during storage.  Why? 

The problem may be improper storage.  Acorn-type squash should be stored at a temperature of 50 to 55 degrees F.  Some acorn-type squash will turn yellow when stored at temperatures above 55 degrees F.  High storage temperatures may also cause the flesh to become stringy. 

How should I store garden pesticides over winter? 

Keep the pesticides in their original containers and store them in a cool, dry location out of the reach of children and pets, preferably in a locked cabinet.  Do not allow granular materials to get wet or liquid products to freeze.  Moisture may cause granular products to cake.  Freezing of liquid pesticides may reduce their effectiveness.  Freezing temperatures may also cause some types of containers to break.  See the product label for specific storage requirements. 

Dust has accumulated on the foliage of my houseplants.  How can I clean my plants? 

Cleaning houseplants improves their appearance, stimulates growth, and may help control insects and mites.  Large-leaved plants may be cleaned with a mild dishwashing soap solution (add a few drops of dishwashing soap to lukewarm water) and a soft sponge or cloth.  Plants can also be cleaned by placing them in the sink or shower and gently spraying with lukewarm water.  Be sure to adjust the pressure and water temperature before spraying the plants.  African violets and other fuzzy-leaved plants can be cleaned with a damp, soft cloth or soft-bristled brush. 

I still haven’t gotten my tulip bulbs planted.  Should I plant them now or wait until spring?    

The tulip bulbs should be planted as soon as possible.  Tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs can be planted as late as December if the soil is not frozen.  After planting, cover the area with several inches of straw, pine needles, or leaves.  Mulching will give the bulbs additional time to root before the ground freezes. 
Another option would be to pot up the tulip bulbs and force them indoors.  After planting, the potted bulbs need to be exposed to temperatures of 40 to 45 degrees F for 12 to 16 weeks.  Possible locations with suitable temperatures include a refrigerator, cellar, or unheated basement.  Remove the potted tulip bulbs from their storage area after the cold requirement has been met.  Place the potted bulbs in a brightly lighted, 60 to 65 degrees F location and enjoy the tulips indoors. 

Tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs can be stored for several weeks.  However, long term storage of spring-flowering bulbs is difficult.  By early spring, the tulip bulbs are likely to have rotted or shriveled and died. 


Contacts :

Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, rjauron@iastate.edu

Jean McGuire, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu

No photos are available for use with this column.