Ask the Expert

Wisconsin State Farmer
Oriental bittersweet was introduced to the United States from China as an ornamental around 1860 and is now an invasive species.

Q: How can I prepare my cactus for winter?

A: Without knowing what type of cactus, here are my tips. If you are talking about a native prickly pear cactus, you do not have to do anything. The cactus will be fine on its own. If you are referring to cacti that were outdoors in pots for the summer season, moving them indoors to a cool, dry location is all that is needed. In our area, they can be placed in a bright window or sunroom. Water lightly about every 4 to 6 weeks.

Q: Where can I find diatomaceous earth?

A: I've found it at many garden supply stores, garden centers, even at big box stores. It is relatively easy to find. If you cannot find it locally, you should also be able to order online.

Q: Should I take down my hummingbird feeders now?

A: That is a personal choice. Hummingbirds continue to feed at scattered nectar feeders throughout Wisconsin, even as of today. Vagrants and migrating hummingbirds are still around, though in low numbers. You never know what might show up if the feeder remains available.

Q: Is bittersweet native to Wisconsin?

A: The answer to this question is a tricky one. There is a bittersweet native to our area, as well as an invasive exotic variety. Generally speaking, identification can be made by the growth form of the plant, as well as where the fruits or berries appear on the plant in the fall. The native variety features fruits clustered toward the end of the vine or stem, while the invasive variety has colorful fruits all along the stem. Of course, individual plants may be exceptions to this general rule.