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Ask the ISU Extension Gardening 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.

8/29/2008

Can the butterfly weed be divided? 

The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a member of the milkweed family.  Plants grow two to three feet tall and produce flat-topped clusters of bright orange flowers from July through September.  Their flowers attract several butterfly species, hence the common name. 
 
Butterfly weed is easy to grow.  It performs best in full sun and tolerates drought and infertile soils.  The butterfly weed possesses a long taproot.  Because of its long taproot, division is difficult and not recommended.  The butterfly weed is typically propagated by seeds. 

Are Rembrandt tulips still available? 

Rembrandt tulips produce striped or “broken” blooms.  The white, yellow, or red petals are striped with red, bronze, or purple.  Rembrandt tulips were sold for huge sums during “tulip mania” in Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The unusual markings actually were  caused by a virus.  Since the distinctive flowers were the result of a disease, the original Rembrandt tulips are no longer sold.  However, several modern, virus-free Rembrandt type tulips are available.  Modern Rembrandt type tulip varieties include ‘Olympic Flame’ (yellow with red flames), ‘Prinses Irene’ (orange with purple flames), ‘Union Jack’ (white with red flames) and ‘Rembrandt’s Favorite’ (white with bluish purple flames). 

Does the rose-of-sharon require acidic soils? 

In regards to soils, the rose-of-sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is actually quite adaptable.  It grows equally well in slightly acidic soils and slightly alkaline soils.  The rose-of-sharon performs best in well-drained, moist soils in partial to full sun. 

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Contacts :

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

Del Marks, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-9807, delmarks@iastate.edu