GARDENING IN IOWA

When is it time to cut down milkweed?

Ask a Master Gardener | Linn County Master Gardener

A monarch butterfly moves around a milkweed plant in Cedar Rapids in this archive photo from July 23, 2015. Don't cut mi
A monarch butterfly moves around a milkweed plant in Cedar Rapids in this archive photo from July 23, 2015. Don’t cut milkweed until the end of September at the earliest. Ideally wait until October as monarchs can still be out until then. (The Gazette)

Q: When should I cut my milkweed? I want to make sure I leave it long enough to help the monarchs.

A: Cut them at the end of September at the earliest. Monarchs can still be out into October. Wait until you haven’t seen any monarchs, if you can.

Q: Can I plant anything now? Is it too hot to plant anything?

A: You can get cool weather crops going — radishes, lettuce, peas, green beans, spinach and turnips can all be planted.

Q: I have vinca and hostas on a retaining wall that I need to remove. I’d like to save the vinca and hosta if I can. How should I handle that?

A: Give the plants a good watering and then transplant them. They’re sturdy plants and can handle the move. Just keep them watered once they’re moved.

Q. Help! My lawn is looking bad in all this heat. What do I do?

A: You can let your lawn go dormant. If you start watering, you’ll need to do some deep watering (at least an inch a week), not just sprinkling shallowly. It’s really your choice to water or not, but the lawn will come back to life after a good rain.

Q: I have rot on some peppers. What causes that?

A: Inconsistent watering can cause blossom end rot on peppers and tomatoes. There was probably periods of too much watering or too little. Try to be consistent with the watering. The peppers will be edible if the bad spots are cut out.

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Q: I read Orlan Love’s article about monarchs and he mentioned bio-tents. Where can I get one?

A: You should contact the Monarch Research Project. They can give you information about bio-tents. Send an email to info@monarchresearch.org.

Q: Do red-tail hawks always have red feathers?

A: There are some subspecies that don’t have red tails.

Do you have a plant you can’t identify or a plant problem you can’t describe? Email pictures to the Master Gardeners at linncountymastergardener@gmail.com and someone will contact you with ideas. Or call (319) 447-0647 for help. We can’t make house calls to diagnose problems, but we’ll do what we can via email or phone.

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