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Written by Joy L Venhorst   
Monday, 18 April 2011 14:41

Preparing Children for Child Care

Talk With Your Child about What Is Happening

New experiences can be scary. You can ease a lot of fears by talking to your children about going to child care if your children can understand. Let them know what is different about the new situation, as well as what is the same.

Share Your Positive Attitude about Child Care with Your Child

Your child will feel good about going to child care if you feel good about your decision. Talk with your child about the toys, people, and activities he or she will experience in child care. Let your child know that going to child care is necessary and can be fun.

Begin New Child Care Situations Gradually

It’s frightening to be put in a new situation. Parents can help ease the transition by bringing their child to child care gradually. If it’s possible, try putting your child in only part time—for a few hours or half a day—for the first few days. This will also help the child care provider get to know your child before he or she spends full days there.

Establish Good Communication with Your Child Care Provider

Leaving a child in someone else’s care can be hard for parents. You may worry about your child’s behavior, whether or not the provider and the other children will like your child, and if the provider can understand and fulfill your child’s needs. Let your provider know as much as possible about your child.

Expect a Reasonable Amount of Adjustment Time

Every child is different. Some children will adjust to a new child care situation almost immediately. A few others will take several months. Some children will seem to adjust to the situation quickly, but then experience difficulty a few weeks or months later.

Contact Information:

Rose Allen, Extension Educator, Family Relations, University of Minnesota Extension, phone: 651-480-7745, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Yard and Garden: Forsythia

After a long, drab winter, most gardeners anxiously await the arrival of spring. One sure sign that spring has truly arrived is the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia. This week Iowa State University Extension garden experts have answers to questions about this deciduous shrub named after William Forsyth, an 18th century Scottish horticulturist. Gardeners with additional questions can contact the experts by emailing or calling the ISU Extension horticulture hotline at   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or  515-294-3108.

My forsythia shrubs are vigorous and healthy, but don’t bloom well. Why?

Forsythias bloom on old wood. Unfortunately, the flower buds on some varieties are not reliably cold hardy in Iowa. For example, the flower buds on ‘Lynwood Gold’ and ‘Spring Glory’ are hardy to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since most areas in Iowa experience winter temperatures below minus 10 F, these cultivars often don’t bloom well in the state.

Improper pruning is another possible cause. Flower buds on forsythias begin to develop by early summer.  Pruning the shrubs anytime from mid-summer until just prior to bloom will drastically reduce flowering. To achieve the best floral display, forsythias should be pruned immediately after flowering.

What are some good forsythia varieties for Iowa?

When selecting a forsythia, choose a cultivar that reliably blooms in Iowa. The flower buds on some varieties are not reliably cold hardy in Iowa. For example, ‘Lynwood Gold’ and ‘Spring Glory,’ typically don’t bloom well in Iowa as their flower buds are often killed by cold winter temperatures.

Forsythia varieties that grow well and bloom reliably in Iowa include ‘Meadowlark’ (bright yellow flowers, grows 8 to 10 feet tall, has arching spreading form), ‘Northern Sun’ (medium yellow flowers, grows 8 to 10 feet tall, has arching spreading form, University of Minnesota introduction), ‘Sunrise’ (medium yellow flowers, grows 5 to 6 feet tall, dense growth habit, an Iowa State University introduction), and ‘Northern Gold’ (yellow gold flowers, grows 8 to 10 feet tall).

When is the best time to prune forsythias?

Since they bloom on old wood, forsythias should be pruned immediately after flowering. Pruning the shrubs anytime from mid-summer until just prior to bloom will reduce flowering in spring. When pruning mature forsythias, it’s best to remove one-fourth to one-third of the oldest (largest) stems at ground level every other year. New shoots will emerge from the ground and bloom in following years. Old, neglected forsythias can be rejuvenated by pruning them back to within 3 to 4 inches of the ground in late winter or early spring.  The shrubs will grow back quickly and should begin blooming again in one or two years.

What would be a good planting site for forsythias?

Forsythias grow and bloom best in areas that receive at least six hours of direct sun. They will grow in partial shade, but won’t bloom as heavily. Forsythias adapt to a wide range of soils. However, they do not perform well in wet, poorly drained sites. 

The forsythia is an excellent plant for mixed shrub borders. It can also be utilized as an informal hedge.  Low-growing cultivars can be used as groundcovers.

How do you propagate forsythias?

The forsythia is easily propagated from softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings should be made from the current season’s growth in late June or early July. Using a sharp knife, cut off 4 to 6 inch long shoots. Pinch off the leaves on the lower half of the cutting. Dip the base (cut end) of the cuttings in a root-promoting compound. Root the cuttings in a large pot or flat containing coarse sand or perlite. Insert the bottom two inches of the cuttings into the rooting medium and firm the material around the base of each cutting. After all the cuttings are inserted, water the medium and let it drain. Cover the container and cuttings with a clear plastic bag or dome to reduce water loss. Then place the cuttings in bright light, but not direct sunlight. Forsythia cuttings should root in six to eight weeks. When the cuttings have well developed root systems, remove them from the rooting medium and transplant into individual pots using a well-drained potting mix.


Dealing With Tree Damage

AMES, Iowa — Stormy weather frequently damages trees throughout Iowa. In most cases, the extent of tree damage isn't due to the luck of the draw.

According to Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension horticulturist, certain tree species are much more susceptible to storm damage than others. For example, silver maple, Siberian elm, willow and green ash are quite vulnerable to strong winds. Oaks, lindens and sugar maples are less susceptible to storm damage. In addition to tree species, the age of the tree, its condition and maintenance history also determine the extent of storm damage. Large, old trees with a structural weakness, such as some trunk decay and those with narrow branch angles are particularly susceptible to damage. No tree species can withstand the fury of a tornado.

Assessing storm-damaged trees
Carefully examine trees to determine the extent of damage. Give immediate attention to trees that are hazards to people or property. If a power line is involved, utility company personnel are the only ones who should be working in the area. After the elimination of hazardous situations, individual tree care can be assessed.

Storm damage to a tree can vary from a few small broken limbs to complete destruction. Severe damage to the main trunk often warrants removal of the tree. Trees that have sustained major trunk damage are no longer structurally sound and may come down completely in the next storm. Trees that have the majority of their crown destroyed are probably not salvageable.

Caring for storm-damaged trees
When pruning damaged trees, use correct pruning techniques to minimize the size of the wound and avoid flush cuts. Remove stubs by pruning back to an undamaged side branch, main branch or trunk. Generally, pruning paints are not necessary. However, wounds that occur on oaks between March 1 and July 1 should be painted to reduce the potential transmission of the fungus responsible for oak wilt. When painting pruning cuts on oak trees, use a latex house paint rather than asphalt or creosote-based paints.

The pruning of large branches and damaged branches high in the tree canopy should be left to trained arborists. Cabling and bracing may be appropriate if the cost involved can be justified. Cabling and bracing do not save trees that have suffered extensive structural damage.

Tree removal and replacement
If tree removal and replacement ends up being your only alternative, Jauron recommends selecting tree species and cultivars with a sturdy reputation. Excellent maple species include black and sugar. Oak species for Iowa include white, swamp white, bur and red. Linden (both American and littleleaf), American hophornbeam and ginkgo are other possibilities. Selection of a sturdy tree species alone will not ensure a strong tree. Proper pruning when small is imperative.

ISU Extension publications contain additional information on caring for trees damaged during storms:
Managing Storm-damaged Trees – Sustainable Urban Landscapes (SUL 6); Choosing an Arborist (RG 214); Pruning Trees: Shade, Flowering, and Conifer – Sustainable Urban Landscapes (SUL 5); and Understanding the Effects of Flooding on Trees – Sustainable Urban Landscapes (SUL 1) can all be downloaded from the ISU Extension online store.


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