NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
January 27, 2000
Ron Smith, Extension Horticulturist
North Dakota State University
Q: In 1998 I planted some Heritage raspberry plants. They grew very well last year but were very slow to get berries. They finally start to ripen in the middle of September. Is there any way to get them to produce the berries earlier? Should I water them on a regular basis, and what kind of fertilizer should I use? (Rothsay, Minn.)
A: It sounds like your Heritage raspberries are doing about what they should be. Water and fertilize to improve production and individual berry size. In the absence of a soil test, probably the best fertilizer to use is a side dressing of 5-10-5, at a rate of about 15 to 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
Also, be on the lookout for cane berries and cane anthracnose, and refer to "Refreshing Raspberries for Home Grown Goodness" (H-38), a publication of the NDSU Extension Service.
Q: I'm writing with some information on Harry Lauder's Walking Stick. I planted one eight years ago, and it's still living. I mulch it very well in the fall of the year, about the same time I mulch my roses I admit it grows very, very slowly, but it is growing. (Ada, Minn.)
A: Thank you for the information. For those who may not know, the walking stick, a member of the birch family, is a shrub with contorted branches. I remember the walking sticks quite well from living in Ohio. I am glad they can make it here with some help.
Q: Due to illness I've had to quit gardening and move into town. I enjoyed every bit of gardening and have some tips for you. If you want to raise a good garden keep plenty of shallow pan water troughs all around the garden and keep the water fresh. The birds are attracted to the water as well as animals. The deer drink the water and pluck the fuzz balls off the vine crops but leave the vegetables alone. The birds will live in the garden and get insects off the plants. The birds even will pull the little weeds for you. All you have to do is use a rotary tiller after each rain, and your eyes will pop at the sight of large vegetables. (Stanley, N.D.)
A: Gardeners always appreciate these nuggets of information from other experienced gardeners. Thanks for taking the time to write. Any chance you can pursue container gardening? It would help to keep your spirits up.
Q: In 1999 I grew Prizewinner, a pumpkin hybrid. For this year some of my friends thought we should have a contest using the seeds from my largest 1999 pumpkin (170 pounds). Will the seeds produce equal to my original seed, or will they be stunted? (Grenora, N.D.)
A: Taking the seed from the largest pumpkin will certainly help in producing other large ones. Once a fruit has been set, keep others from developing on the same plant, and keep it well watered and nourished. Hopefully, over the years you will be able to grow some real prize winners.
Q: I received a Christmas cactus as a gift. How do I take care of it? (Selby, S.D.)
A: Basically, it should be treated like a poinsettia that you are attempting to re-bloom: Short days starting at the end of September (less than 12 hours), a reduction in watering and keep it in a cool location. That should do it! Once the flower buds are obvious, short days are no longer needed.
Q: Can you please answer the following questions; my husband and I are not agreeing.
Question No. 1: If I replant a baby houseplant (from a 1-inch pot) in a too-large pot, will it die? Is there a very slight chance--let's say 10 percent maybe--that it will not die but live and not grow much, or not at all?
Question No. 2: Can a plant go into shock and die if it's moved to a different house, a different state or even to a different room in the same house? (e-mail)
A: I'll be glad to settle marital difficulties such as this. Here are the answers to your questions:
No. 1: No, not very likely.
No. 2: Yes, very likely.
Now, for some explanations. The usual recommendation is to repot plants to the next nominal size to make it easier to maintain the plant. Putting it in too large a pot may lead to overwatering, which is the No.1 cause of houseplant death.
Houseplants are human assignments because Mother Nature doesn't recognize them as being part of the natural ecosystem. This puts houseplants pretty much on their own in their relationship with the humans interested in them. So if we move them into a poorly lit, drafty room, and they somehow adapt to that site over time by dropping leaves and slowing growth (known as acclimatization), we should pretty much leave them alone. Light intensity varies dramatically with very little movement around a room. This has been proven many times with a light meter. Moving a plant from under a ceiling fluorescent light to a corner may represent a 25 to 30 footcandle drop in light intensity, or more, which could spell doom for the plant.
SOME movement is good for a houseplant. It tends to build stronger, stockier plants. But hard shaking may rupture cells or tear root or stem tissue, which could lead to death.
Q: Will you please address the following questions:
No.1: We have put an apricot tree in our back yard. Is it necessary to have a second apricot tree of the opposite sex for it to bear fruit? We have a chokecherry, Juneberry, Nanking cherry, plum and pear tree nearby. Can any of these cross pollinate with the apricot?
No. 2: How do we properly prune our shrub roses? Even our veteran rose people in the Bismarck-Mandan Garden Club don't seem to know the answer to this one. (Bismarck, N.D., e-mail)
A: To answer your questions:
No. 1: You have a good selection of Prunus species for the pollination to take place. It sounds like you should be getting a lot of fruit off the trees and shrubs you have planted. Enjoy!
No. 2: Shrub roses need little pruning in comparison to their hybrid and floribunda cousins. Simply remove the winter killed wood and clean up any tangled, nonblooming growth at the ground from the centers of the older bushes. Be sure you wear HEAVY gloves and that you use your best, sharp pruners! That old wood can get to be pretty tough at times, and those thorns seem capable of penetrating anything short of armor plating. If it proves to be too much of a blood-letting task, then simply cut them back to the ground and allow them to regrow.
Unlike the hybrid teas and floribundas, don't head these back once they have finished flowering. The objective in pruning shrub roses is to promote their natural form whether it be upright, spreading or drooping. Once the flowers have finished, attractive fruits called "hips" form that add to the beauty of the plant.
Do you have a gardening or houseplant question? Write to Hortiscope, Box 5051, NDSU Extension Service, Fargo, ND 58105 or e-mail to Ron Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NDSU Agriculture Communication
Source: Ron Smith (701) 231-8161
Editor: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136