Q: Can you tell me what kind of houseplant this is and how often I should water it? — Chrissy Johnson, West Fargo.
A: The most common name of the plant in the photo is arrowhead plant, occasionally called nephthytis. The botanical genus is Syngonium, which is sometimes also used as a common name.
It's one of my favorite houseplants, and garden centers offer several different foliage colors, including green, silver and even light reddish. Like many houseplants, they are native to tropical jungles, where arrowhead plants become vining with age, supporting themselves on other tropical plants, or vining along the jungle floor.
How often houseplants need watering, including arrowhead plant, depends on many factors like pot size, time of year, heat in the house and humidity level. Instead of watering plants on a schedule, it’s OK to check them on a schedule, but only water the plant if needed.
To see if watering is needed, check by poking a finger into the potting soil down to the first joint. If you feel moisture at the fingertip, don't water, as there is moisture present. If you don't feel moisture, then go ahead and apply enough water to moisten the entire soil ball. If in doubt, wait a day or two, as more plants are damaged from being watering too frequently, than not enough.
Q: I read in your recent column about rabbits eating everything; boy are you right.
I used to trim my raspberries back in the fall, but one year didn’t get it done before the snow hit. Rabbits ate the thorny raspberry stalks right down to the snow line, and as the snow receded, they continued eating the canes to the ground, showing rabbits will eat anything when hungry. — Roger Mattern, Grand Forks, N.D.
A: We’ve experienced the same situation, and it’s surprising rabbits will eat something so thorny. They’ve also frequently eaten our rose bushes, and they don’t even spit out the thorns. Raspberries and fruit trees are in the botanical rose family, and all members apparently have very tasty twigs, bark and even thorns.
Q: I have a question about all the seed catalogs I'm getting in the mail. I ordered starter plants of tomato and pepper a few years ago from a popular seed catalog and the plants arrived dead and dried up in a box. Is there a place to order these hybrid plants, or would I be safer going to area garden centers? — Deb Pool.
A: Thanks for asking a great question about ordering plants by mail or other delivery methods. Seed catalogs are great sources of seed, stocking thousands of varieties that are simply impossible for local seed racks to carry. And of course, seeds travel fine by most delivery methods.
Bareroot plants such as small trees, shrubs and perennials can be shipped and received successfully while they are still dormant. Plants that are actively growing, such as the tomato and pepper transplants you mentioned, are very tender and vulnerable to drying out, freezing or other misfortunes that make shipping challenging. That’s why local garden centers are a vital asset to our communities, as they supply us with fresh, adapted plants. Supporting locally owned garden centers is essential for all of us who enjoy yards, gardens and plants.
Q: I’m converting an English cottage-style perennial bed into a butterfly and bee-friendly garden. I will start by moving out some peonies this spring. What plants should I replace them with? — Deborah Levchak, Burleigh County, N.D.
A: Two excellent publications by North Dakota State University Extension Horticulturist Esther McGinnis and Entomologist Janet Knodel are “Bee-utiful Landscapes: Building a Pollinator Garden,” which can be downloaded at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/lawns-gardens-trees/bee-utiful-landscapes-building-a-pollinator-garden/h1811.pdf, and “Butterfly Gardening in North Dakota,” available for download at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/lawns-gardens-trees/butterfly-gardening-in-north-dakota/e1266.pdf. Both publications list perennials and annuals adapted to our region, plus techniques for developing plantings to sustain bees and butterflies.
If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County, at email@example.com or call 701-241-5707. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.