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Q. In an earlier In The Grow Column you were writing about possible replacements for white pine trees in Indiana. Yet you did not mention Eastern red cedar as a possibility. Is there something wrong with the native species of evergreens?

A. Eastern redcedar is actually a species of Juniper rather than a true cedar. It is widely adaptable to various stresses, especially drought, so it can be very useful for group plantings, windbreaks and screenings. However, this species is quite susceptible to bagworms, and is the alternate host for cedar-apple rust (also cedar hawthorn and cedar-quince rusts), so it would not be recommended for areas near apples, crabapples or hawthorns. Eastern redcedar has separate male and female plants, with the latter bearing berry-like fruiting cones, which are prized by birds that then spread the seed. So the species often shows up as “volunteers” in unintended locations, so much so that it is considered a weed in many areas. There are a number of male non-fruiting cultivars such as ‘Burkii,’ and ‘Hillspire.’ There are also selections with increased showy fruiting (‘Canaertii’), some with bluish foliage (‘Glauca,’ ‘Manhattan Blue’) and some with weeping habit (‘Pendula’).

Q. This question is about what I can get to grow as a wildlife habitat area. I have approximately 10 acres behind my house that used to be pasture. My intention is to create an area for small wildlife, such as turkeys, quail and rabbit, to flourish. I live around the reclaimed mine areas in which sericea Lespedeza provides great cover for such smaller wildlife; my question is, will it flourish in a partially shaded area? I’m also having trouble finding places where this seed can be purchased reasonably if at all.

A. Unfortunately, sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) has fallen out of favor due to its invasive tendencies and is considered a noxious weed in several states, including Colorado and Kansas. This subject is more in-depth than we can adequately cover in the space of this column, but you’ll find a lot of useful information on the Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources website on wildlife information for homeowners at http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/fnr/wildlife/homeowners/index.html.The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has district wildlife biologists who can help you plan. Check listings for your area at http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/2716.htm.

Q. I have quite a few spring-flowering bulbs that I purchased on clearance in late fall, but the weather turned cold and snowy before I could get them planted. What can I do with them now?

A. You are in good company; many gardeners didn’t get their bulbs planted, since winter arrived so early this season. We normally plant bulbs in fall to provide a period of chilling to initiate flowers and to allow time for rooting. Most spring-flowering bulbs need 10-13 weeks of temperatures below 40 degrees F to provide adequate chilling, but rooting requires soil temps above 40 degrees F.

Storing the bulbs until spring won’t satisfy these requirements. So the next best choice is to get them in the ground as soon as the soil has thawed enough to dig. Since that is not looking feasible this winter, another alternative is to force the bulbs into bloom indoors. Plant the bulbs in pots of soil with the tips of the bulbs just above the soil. Moisten and store in a cold, 40-degree F location, such as a refrigerator. After the chilling period, bring the pots into a cool room, about 65-70 degrees F. Plants should bloom in 7-14 days.


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