Extension News

Ask the ISU Experts

Note to media editors: Got gardening questions? Contact the Hortline at (515) 294-3108 (Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. -  noon and 1 - 4:30 p.m.) or send an e-mail to hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information visit us at Yard and Garden Online at www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu


Is it possible to grow cannas from seed? 

Cannas are normally grown from rhizomes. However, it is possible to grow cannas from seeds.  Canna seeds have hard seedcoats.  Prior to sowing, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours.  Sow the seeds in a commercial germination medium, such as Jiffy Mix. After sowing, lightly cover the seeds, then thoroughly water the medium. Allow the medium to drain for a few minutes.  Afterwards, cover the container with clear plastic wrap and place it in a warm location.  The temperature of the medium should be maintained at 70 to 75 degrees F. Germination should occur in 7 to 14 days. When the seeds germinate, remove the plastic wrap and place the seedlings in a sunny window or under fluorescent lights. When the canna seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them into individual containers. Plant the cannas outdoors when the danger of frost is past in spring. 


Can lupines be successfully grown in Iowa? 

True lupines (Lupinus species), such as the Russell hybrids, are grown for their attractive, erect, 1- to 2-foot-long flower stalks.  Unfortunately, the Russell hybrids and most other lupines don’t perform well in Iowa.  Lupines prefer moist, well-drained soils and cool temperatures.  Because of our hot, dry summers, lupines tend to be short-lived perennials in the state. 


While true lupines are difficult to grow in Iowa, the Carolina lupine (Thermopsis caroliniana) and false blue indigo (Baptisia australis) are well adapted to the state and produce colorful, lupine-like flower stalks. The Carolina lupine produces bright yellow, pea-like flowers on erect, 6- to 12-inch-long flower stalks in late spring. Plants have gray-green to green foliage and grow 3 to 4 feet tall. False blue indigo produces indigo blue flowers on 8- to 12-inch-long flower stalks in spring. Plants grow 3 to 5 feet tall with a spread of 4 or more feet. Its foliage is blue-green. 


Are black raspberries hardy in northern Iowa? 

Red and purple raspberries are hardy throughout the state.  Black raspberries, however, often suffer severe winter damage in northern Iowa and can be reliably grown only in central and southern portions of the state.  ‘Black Hawk’ (an Iowa State University introduction) is the hardiest black raspberry cultivar. 



Contacts :

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

Jean McGuire, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu