Posts tagged daffodils

Tulip Queen


Dorothy Hingtgen and her tulip beds in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Cindy Hadish photo)

Dorothy Hingtgen and her tulip beds in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Cindy Hadish photo)

 The three things tulips don’t like are hot weather, hard, sideways wind and hail, according to “tulip lady” Dorothy Hingtgen, who lives in northeast Cedar Rapids.

    I had a fun time interviewing this witty woman for a story for the Sunday, May 10, Gazette. Dorothy digs up more than 300 tulip bulbs every year with her husband, Dan, and is as much of an expert as I’ve met on tulips. So I felt a boost when I told her about my favorite Greenland tulips, a gorgeous pink flower brushed with green. They were beautiful the first year I planted them, but didn’t return the second. I tried again, and once more, exquisite blooms, followed by nothing the next year. Greenlands are labeled for zones 3-8, so they should be fine in Iowa, but the same results  happened for Dorothy with those bulbs. I might take her advice and try something orange this fall, which she describes as the most reliable tulips.

Grand Duke tulips

Grand Duke tulips

     A tip for homeowners with voracious deer: Dorothy uses Milorganite, an organic fertilizer. She says the smell deters deer. Further deer advice can be seen in one bed to the side of her yard that didn’t have any tulips, but was filled with bright daffodils. Deer leave daffodils alone, she noted.

Gazette photographer Liz Martin shooting at Dorothy Hingtgen's home.

Gazette photographer Liz Martin shooting at Dorothy Hingtgen's home. (Cindy Hadish photo)

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March Madness and will this snow kill my plants?

   Sunday’s Homegrown Highlights column in the Gazette shows that a) the only thing predictable about March weather is that it’s unpredictable and b) our columns for Sunday’s newspaper are written in advance.  Hopefully, no one dug under several inches of snow to begin “waking the garden.”

    In fact, the snow acts as insulation for plants from the cold. Ones that have already bloomed might be done for the season after being buried under snow, but those that were just emerging – tulips, daffodils (at least those here in Cedar Rapids that have not blossomed yet) and others should be fine.

     I’ve been able to resist the temptation to begin yard work even on those beautiful, sunny and 70-degree days of March, and I will at least for the first couple weeks in April. Until the ground is fairly dry – much less soggy than what it’s been recently –  it’s really best to stay off the lawns and out of flower beds. I know a few vegetable gardeners who already planted potatoes and onions before this weekend’s snow. Some vegetables are more tolerant of the cold and can survive even in weather like this. Just remember, there’s no reason to jump the gun on yard work. Enjoy each season as it unfolds. There will be plenty of time for outdoor work in the months to come.  

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October advice

    Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith submitted the following:


My 2008 Iowa State University Extension Service Garden Calendar—a plethora of recommendations and advice each month –suggests an October visit to a pumpkin patch for the perfect Jack-O-Lantern candidate.  My favorite daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter have enjoyed this family tradition for several years.   Now 7-year-old Catie has managed a larger specimen every year.   This year, 2-year-old Charlie will say “Me Too, Mommy” as he stubbornly grapples with as much pumpkin as he can manage to drag out of the patch.  Girly-girl Catie enjoys decorating, but not cleaning out the “innards”.  I’d bet my All-Boy Charlie will love every minute of the mess!   No kids at home?  No Grandkids around?  Go ahead!  Be a kid again, go visit a Pumpkin farm soon. 

                Other suggestions from the calendar for October are:

                                Continue to mow the lawn until the grass stops growing

                                Apply fertilizer to the lawn, but not to perennials or trees

                                Compost fall leaves

                                Plant spring flowering bulbs.


                                On that last note, here are some recommendations for brightening your days next spring:  Bulbs are usually inexpensive.

Follow the directions on the packages.


    Plant in mass:  four large and nine small bulbs per square foot.  The smaller the bulb, the larger the grouping should be. 

    Generally, bulbs should be planted at a depth of two to three times the height of the bulb.

   Place the bulb “tip” side up (that’s not the root side).  If in doubt, place the bulb on its side!

   Plant in well draining soil.

   Chicken wire placed under, around and on top of bulbs deter rodents. 

Water the area thoroughly and apply about 2” of mulch after the first frost. 

Apply fertilizer three times per year:  in the fall for the roots, in the spring when the sprouts first poke through and then when the flower dies.

   Deer tend to avoid daffodils, alliums, and snowdrops. 

Tulips and crocus seem to be the bulbs-of-choice.


So, after you’ve been to the pumpkin patch, go visit your favorite garden shop and get to planting. 

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Cool annuals


                                   By Master Gardener Carolann Sears

            For gardeners anxious to get out into their gardens, early spring is the time to plant cool weather annuals.  After a hardening-off period, and as soon as the soil can be worked, there are a large number of annuals that can be bought and planted as early as April.

            A bed of smiling pansy faces next to an entry way door can lift your spirits on a cool spring day.  Purple and yellow violas planted in beds with tulips or daffodils contrast beautifully and bring color into your garden through May.

            Stocks and Dianthus are especially fragrant mixed with containers of Osteospermum (African Daisy) and will brighten up your deck or patio.  Some varieties, like the symphony and soprano series of Osterspermum, have been developed to be more heat-tolerant and will continue to bloom throughout the summer here in Iowa.

            Check with your nursery or green house to see if they have “hardened-off” the plants they have in stock.  Even plants that love cool weather need to be planted with care and some forethought.  They have been raised in a warm green house, without winds, and have been subjected only to filtered sunlight.  Your goal is to increase exposure to wind, sun and drought-gradually.

            Don’t put your new plants into the ground immediately.  Give them an adjustment period of about a week in a sheltered area, out of the wind and direct sunlight, perhaps next to the house.  Watch the weather, and if it’s expected to drop below freezing, keep them in an unheated garage overnight.  Although a light snow won’t hurt them if they are in the ground, cover them as you would in the fall, to keep them from freezing.

            Prepare your planting bed, amending the soil with organic material if it is too sandy or has heavy clay.  Soil that is ready to be worked will hold together loosely when squeezed lightly.  Dig a hole wider than the pot your plants come in, loosening up the soil, and replant your annuals at the same level they were in the container when purchased.  For container gardens, use lightweight, well-drained potting soil or a soilless mix.  Annuals prefer to be watered deeply, but infrequently, needing about an inch of moisture per week.  Water in the mornings, so foliage will dry before nightfall.  Fertilize lightly once or twice during the spring growing season, keeping in mind too much fertilizer may encourage foliage, but inhibit flowering.

            Most cool weather annuals will bolt (flower and decline) during Iowa’s hot humid summers, so plant them with perennials or other annuals that will bloom throughout the summer.  The cool weather annuals may surprise you and bloom again in fall.         

            For more information on annuals, I would recommend a publication available through Iowa State Extension titled Annuals (PM 1942).  It is one of a series of beautiful color publications that not only classifies annuals for use as cut flowers, shade, and drought tolerance, etc., but features color photographs with clear descriptions.

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