Extension News

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.


When can I move my amaryllis outdoors? 

The amaryllis can be moved outdoors in late May. When the amaryllis is moved outdoors, harden or acclimate the plant to the outdoor environment by initially placing it in a shady, protected area for two to three days and then gradually expose it to longer periods of direct sun. Once hardened, select a site in partial to full sun. Dig a hole and set the pot into the ground. Outdoors, water the plant during dry weather. Also, fertilize the amaryllis once or twice a month through July with a soluble houseplant fertilizer. Bring the plant indoors in mid September. 


My daffodils produce foliage in spring, but no longer bloom. Why? 

If the daffodils aren't blooming, the plants weren't able to store enough food in the bulbs in the previous year. Daffodil foliage typically doesn't die back until four to six weeks after blooming.  During this four to six-week period, the daffodil foliage is manufacturing food. Much of the food is transported down to the bulbs. In order to bloom, daffodils must store adequate levels of food in their bulbs.


Cutting off the foliage before it has died back naturally may prevent the plants from storing adequate food in the bulbs. Allow the daffodil foliage to die completely before removing it. Plants in partial shade in May and June may not be able to store enough food in the bulbs because of insufficient sunlight. Dig up daffodils growing in partial shade when the foliage has died back and plant the bulbs in a site that receives partial to full sun. If given good care and favorable growing conditions, weak daffodils can be encouraged to flower again. 


Why does my crabapple tree bloom profusely every other year? 

Some trees, such as fruit trees and crabapples, bloom heavily one year and then sparsely the following year. Hand thinning of excess fruit on fruit trees will help to overcome this tendency to flower and bear fruit in alternate years. ‘Bob White,’ ‘David,’ ‘Mary Potter’ and ‘Red Splendor’ are four crabapple varieties that tend to flower heavily in alternate years. When selecting a crabapple, choose a variety that blooms heavily on an annual basis. 



Contacts :

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

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