Don Kinzler, Published December 06 2013
Fielding questionsQ. I know it’s best to prune apple trees when they’re dormant in February, but my yard becomes 5 feet deep with snow and I’m unable to reach branches. Would pruning in December work? – Jean Madsen, Mapleton, N.D.
A. Although the standard North Dakota recommendation is to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed, apple tree pruning in December works fine also. Minnesota research as far back as 1918 showed no difference between November-December pruning and late winter February pruning. Given research coupled with successful experience, pruning your apple trees in December is a good option.
Q. I enjoyed your article about growing your own geranium plants (Aug. 23). I started about 100 cuttings and am ready to repot them. Most are still alive, but the little pots are not filled with fresh white roots. I’d like to repot them since we’re going to be gone, but can this be done with just a few roots? Do I cover all of the stem, or just the roots? – Jane Williams, Fargo
A. Go ahead and pot the geraniums even though the roots haven’t filled out completely. They’ll continue to produce roots in the new pots. It’s best not to move them up into pots that are too large. A three- or four-inch pot is plenty, otherwise the cuttings get lost. New plants are more comfortable if they can fill up their pot with roots before being moved to a larger pot. A well-drained soil like Miracle Gro potting mix will help. Overwatering can be a problem at this stage so avoid keeping them overly moist.
When planting, most of the stem should be left above soil line rather than burying “up to their ears” as we might do with tomatoes or other plants. Geraniums are sensitive to stem rot if planted too deeply, so it’s best to err on the shallow side by covering just the roots and a little of the lower stem. If they’re a little leggy they can be “pinched” to promote branching in the future after they’ve grown. I’m happy you’re having success, and I hope the cuttings continue to thrive.
If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.