Extension News

Ask the ISU Experts

Note to media editors:

Got gardening questions? Contact the Hortline at (515) 294-3108 (M-F; 10-12 & 1-4:30) 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



When should I plant my gladiolus bulbs? 

Gladiolus bulbs (corms) should be planted after the danger of frost is past. In Iowa, it's generally safe to begin planting gladioli in early to mid-May. Make successive plantings every two weeks for continuous bloom throughout the season. Gladiolus corms bloom approximately eight to 10 weeks after planting. The final planting should be made in early July. 


When purchasing gladioli, select corms that are 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. Smaller corms will not bloom as well. Plant the corms 4 to 6 inches deep. Gladioli perform best in well-drained soils in full sun. 


I planted a new asparagus bed this spring.  When can I start harvesting it?
Asparagus should not be harvested during the first growing season. This one year period allows the plants to become established in the garden. The asparagus can be harvested for two to four weeks in the second year, four to six weeks in the third year, and six to eight weeks in the fourth and following years. 


Grasses are taking over my strawberry patch.  How can they be controlled? 

If the strawberry patch is being overrun with perennial grasses, such as quackgrass, control is not very practical. Your best option would be to prepare a new site for a strawberry bed this summer or fall and plant a new bed next spring.  Annual grasses, such as crabgrass and foxtail, can be controlled by cultivation and hand pulling. 


What is the proper way to plant a balled and burlapped tree? 

Dig a hole that is two to three times wider than the diameter of the tree's rootball. The depth of the hole should be 2 or 3 inches less than the height of the rootball. Slope the sides of the hole so the top of the hole is several inches wider than the bottom. 


Grasping the tree's rootball, carefully lower the tree into the hole. The top of the rootball should be approximately 2 or 3 inches above the surrounding soil line. Make sure the trunk is straight. Then, begin backfilling with the original soil. Do not add compost, peat, or other organic materials to the soil. Gently firm the backfill soil in the hole with your hands. 


When the planting hole is one-half full, cut and remove all twine. Also, cut away and remove the burlap on the top one-third to one-half of the rootball. If the rootball is in a wire basket, remove the top one-third to one-half of the basket. Completely fill the remainder of the hole with soil. Place soil up to the top of the rootball and gradually slope it down to the surrounding soil line. Once planted, thoroughly water the tree. 



Contacts :

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

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