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. - 12 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


I would like to plant an asparagus bed this spring.  Which varieties are best? 

Asparagus is dioecious. Dioecious plants produce separate male and female plants. Male asparagus plants live longer and are more productive than female plants. Excellent all-male asparagus varieties for the home garden include ‘Jersey Giant,’ ‘Jersey Knight,’ ‘Jersey King’ and ‘Jersey Supreme.’ ‘Mary Washington’ and ‘Martha Washington’ are standard asparagus varieties. A planting of ‘Mary Washington’ or ‘Martha Washington’ will include both male and female plants. ‘Purple Passion’ is a distinctive variety with purple shears. 


When should I plant dormant, bare-root raspberry plants in Iowa? 

Late March or April is the best time to plant dormant, bare-root raspberry plants in Iowa. If the planting of dormant, bare-root raspberry plants must be delayed after purchase, moisten the packing material around the roots of the raspberry plants and store them in a cool location, such as a garage or cellar. 


Remove the dormant, bare-root plants from storage when ready to plant. If the roots of the raspberry plants are dry, soak them in water for several hours before planting. Set the raspberry plants slightly deeper into the soil than they were at the nursery. Plant yellow and red raspberries 2 inches deeper, while black and purple raspberries should be planted 1 inch deeper than previously grown.


Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the spread of the plant’s root system. Position the plant in the center of the hole, spread out its roots, then backfill with soil. Water each plant thoroughly, then prune back the canes, leaving a maximum of 2 to 3 inches above the soil. 


Is the Canadian hemlock suitable for Iowa? 

The Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is an attractive, graceful evergreen. It performs best in cool sites with well-drained, moist soils. Avoid windy, exposed sites and hot, dry locations. In Iowa, Canadian hemlocks perform best in the eastern portion of the state. 



Contacts :

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

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