Extension News

Ask the Iowa State University Extension Experts

Note to media editors: Got gardening questions? Contact the Iowa State University Extension 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.


How should I prepare my fruit trees for winter?  
Rabbits pose a threat to small fruit trees over winter. In winter, rabbits often gnaw on the bark of many woody plants. Heavy browsing can result in the complete girdling of small trees.  Girdled fruit trees are essentially destroyed. 

The best way to prevent rabbit damage to young fruit trees is to place cylinders of hardware cloth around the tree trunks. The hardware cloth cylinder should stand 1 to 2 inches out from the tree trunk and extend 10 to 12 inches above the expected snow depth. The bottom 2 inches should be buried beneath the soil. 

Fruit trees planted within the last two or three years should be watered deeply before winter if the weather in fall has been dry. 

How often should I water my jade plant? 
Jade plants (Crassula argentea) and other succulents don’t need to be watered as often as most other houseplants. When watering succulents, water them thoroughly. Water should freely flow out the drainage holes in the bottom of the container.  Discard the excess water. After watering, the potting mix should be allowed to dry out completely before the succulents are watered again. Water succulents more frequently in spring and summer than in winter. The frequency of watering is determined by the plant species, composition of the potting mix, environmental conditions indoors and time of year. 

Do rhododendrons require any special care before winter? 
There are deciduous and evergreen types of rhododendrons.  Evergreen rhododendrons planted in sunny, exposed locations can be protected from the drying effects of the sun and wind by placing a burlap screen around them in fall.  In dry years, water evergreen rhododendrons in late fall just before the soil freezes.  If rabbits are a problem in the area, place chicken wire or hardware cloth around both deciduous and evergreen rhododendrons in fall to prevent rabbit damage. 

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Contacts :

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

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