Extension News

Ask the ISU Extension Garden Experts: Perennials, Amaryllis Bulbs, African Violets and Fertilizer

Note to media editors: Got gardening questions? Call the Hortline at (515) 294-3108, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m., or e-mail us at hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information, visit us at Yard and Garden Online, http://www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu


Which perennials tend to be short-lived?

When selecting perennials for the home landscape, it’s important to consider their size, bloom period, hardiness, and cultural requirements. Another consideration is their longevity. Some perennials are extremely long-lived. In contrast, some perennials grow well for a few years and then decline and fade away.

Short-lived perennials include columbine (Aquilegia spp.), delphinium (Delphinium spp.), pinks (Dianthus spp.), blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora), baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata), coral bells (Heuchera spp.), hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis), Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum spp.), perennial flax (Linum perenne), lupine (Lupinus hybrids), Maltese cross (Lychnis chalcedonica), Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule), pincushion flower (Scabiosa spp.), painted daisy (Tanacetum coccineum), and hybrid tulips (Tulipa spp.).

When should I plant an amaryllis bulb in order to have it in bloom at Christmas?

An amaryllis bulb usually blooms about 4 to 6 weeks after planting. Plant the amaryllis bulb in early to mid-November for spectacular blooms at Christmas. To increase your odds of having an amaryllis in bloom at Christmas, pot up one amaryllis bulb in early November and a second one several days later.

How much light does an African violet need?

African violets need the proper amount of light to grow and bloom well. Plants that receive insufficient levels of light have thin, blue-green leaves with long petioles. They also don’t bloom well. Plants that receive too much light are stunted and produce small, crinkled, yellow leaves borne on short petioles. Generally, sites near north or east windows are best for African violets. However, if these sites are not available, African violets can be successfully grown under fluorescent lights. A fluorescent light fixture suspended 8 to 10 inches above the plants and left on for 12 to 16 hours per day should provide sufficient light for African violets.

What is the best way to store an opened bag of lawn fertilizer?

Store lawn and garden fertilizers in their original bags or containers so you will know the content and analysis of the product next season. Store granular fertilizers in a protected location where they will remain dry. Granular products absorb moisture from the air, causing them to cake up like cement. An excellent way to store opened bags of lawn or garden fertilizers is to place the bags in large containers, such as 5 gallon buckets, and cover with tight-sealing lids.


Contacts :

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

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