Test your gardening knowledge with today’s quiz

Do peonies really require ants to open? When an apple turns red, does it mean it’s ripe? See if you really do have a green thumb with "Growing Together" columnist Don Kinzler's new quiz.

Is it true that carrots are sweeter after a frost?
David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Did you hear about the gardener who started digging and replanting his entire herb garden in alphabetical order? His neighbor asked how he finds the time. The gardener replied, “It’s right next to the sage.”

That bit of humor reminded me that it’s high thyme for another quiz. Do you know we haven’t shared a garden quiz since before the pandemic?

So close your books, take out a sheet of paper, and answer the following.


  1. Can every blossom on a squash plant potentially bear a squash fruit?
  2. If you saved seed from a Honeycrisp apple, will it grow into a Honeycrisp tree?
  3. Does overwatering a houseplant mean that you apply too much at one time?
  4. If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, which is recommended, spring or fall?
  5. When an apple turns red, does it mean it’s ripe?
  6. Should tree wraps be left on all year?
  7. Should pebbles be put inside the bottom of houseplant pots for better drainage?
  8. Which tomato type is best grown with support, such as a cage or stake, determinate or indeterminate cultivars?
  9. Is it true garden carrots become sweeter after a fall frost?
  10. Will mowing grass shorter help control weeds?
  11. When adding a protective mulch in the fall around tender perennials or roses, should it be applied before or after the soil has frozen?
  12. Are the thorny canes of roses and raspberries nature’s way of protecting against rabbit damage?
  13. Should a newly planted tree be staked for only the first year?
  14. Is it better to remove the above-ground portions of most perennials in fall or spring?
  15. Are lawn weed herbicides more effective if applied in midsummer or in the fall?
  16. Is it better to prune shrubs in spring or fall?
  17. Are crabgrass and quackgrass two names for the same weedy grass?
  18. Are ants required for peony buds to open normally?
When an apple turns red, is it fully ripe? The answer can be found in today's quiz.
David Samson / The Forum


  1. No. Squash vines have separate male and female flowers growing on the same plant. The male flowers produce just pollen, and only the female flowers form the squash fruits.
  2. Unfortunately not. To bear fruit, apple flowers must receive pollen from a tree that’s a different apple variety, resulting in seed that’s of mixed parentage.
  3. No. Overwatering means you keep a plant’s soil continually too soggy.
  4. Turf research shows that a fall application of fertilizer around Labor Day yields the greatest benefit to grass health. A spring application is secondary.
  5. Not necessarily. Most apples turn red before they’re fully ripe. Instead check the seeds, which are shiny and black-brown when an apple is ripe, instead of tan or light brown.
  6. Tree wraps should be removed each spring so the trunk can breathe. Reapply each fall.
  7. No. It’s counterintuitive, but research proved that pebbles create a layer of change that impedes drainage, and drainage is better when the pot is simply filled with potting mix.
  8. Indeterminate tomato cultivars continue vining all season, and benefit from support.
  9. Yes. Although an actual frost isn’t required, the cool temperatures of fall do favor the accumulation of sugars, so leaving carrots in the ground as long as possible makes them sweeter.
  10. No. Mowing short encourages weeds by allowing them access to sunlight. Instead, a mowing height of 3 inches shades and suppresses weed growth.
  11. Protective mulch should wait until after the top few inches of soil have frozen solid.
  12. It was a nice try on nature’s part, but rabbits eat thorny rose and raspberry canes like candy.
  13. Yes. If staked at all, only one growing season is generally recommended.
  14. Perennials survive winter better with the above-ground parts left intact, and removed in spring. However, peonies, iris, daylily and hosta tops are better removed in fall.
  15. Applying herbicides in fall is more effective and safer than midsummer applications, especially for hard-to-kill perennial weeds.
  16. Spring is the recommended time for shrub pruning, before new growth begins. Fall pruning exposes open wounds to winter’s elements.
  17. Crabgrass and quackgrass are two different weedy grasses, controlled very differently.
  18. Ants are attracted to the sticky peony buds, but are neither beneficial nor harmful, and aren’t required for buds to open properly, according to the American Peony Society.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at
What To Read Next
"It’s easy to make assumptions about a person based on their outfit or their day job," Coming Home columnist Jessie Veeder writes. "I mean, my dad used to work in a bank and he also broke horses and played in a bar band at night."
This week, gardening columnist Don Kinzler fields questions on hibiscus plants, beating apple trees and how long grass seeds will last.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack explains the differences between Alzheimer's, dementia and other common forms of dementia.
If it plays well in Winnipeg, it’ll be a hit in Fargo, and all points within planting distance.