Skip to main content

The Garden Scoop

Latest Posts

Pink surprise lily flowers

Surprise lilies shock with late bloom

When I try to think of plants that live up to their common name, surprise lily (Lycoris squamigera) tops the list.  In fact, this plant has quite a few common names that are equally fitting, including ghost lily, magic lily, resurrection flower, naked lily, and mystery lily, among many...
Finish this story
Tropical Milkweed with bees and a fly on it.

Tropical milkweed could threaten monarchs

As interest in planting milkweed has grown among gardeners focused on supporting Monarch butterfly populations, many of us have been watching garden centers for milkweed plants.  This interest has sparked demand for easy-to-propagate milkweed species that can offer maximum garden beauty with a long...
Finish this story
A ripe tomato on a tomato plant.

Tomato Problems and Solutions

Tomatoes are one of the most planted garden crops in the US and remain a staple of most vegetable gardens across central Illinois. Illinois Extension receives many questions about these plants and their care each year, with most questions centering on controlling some common ailments.  From dead...
Finish this story
Bindweed on top of straw in a garden

Managing Bindweed a difficult task

Occasionally, a weed pops up that commands attention due to its aggressive habit.  Action must be taken quickly to avoid its establishment in the landscape, or years of control efforts will ensue.  Knowing when a tiny invading plant should be taken seriously can be difficult for a gardener.  In...
Finish this story
Yellow flowers on a eastern prickly pear cactus

Prickly Pears bloom for pollinators

I am always amazed at the diversity of native species our state hosts from top to bottom.  All in all, Illinois spans three USDA cold hardiness zones which illustrates the difference in climate from our northern counties to the southern confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.  In total,...
Finish this story
A picture of two blooms of wild columbine

Using wild columbine at home

During the flowering lull of late spring in my home gardens, I often admire the unique, dangling blooms of our native wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).  This plant occurs in nearly every county of Illinois and its native range spans the Eastern US, from Florida and Texas to Canada. ...
Finish this story
Ants on a Peony

How ants help peonies

In the plant world, insects can be considered either friend or foe based on their status as beneficial partners or pests.  We often think of pollinators as the primary friends plants have in the insect world, but there are certainly other beneficial insects that don’t necessarily pollinate flowers...
Finish this story

Lawns and pollinators - The case for dandelions

Urban areas typically have a large proportion of turfgrass. From lawns and residential areas to golf courses, parks and rights-of-way, turf covers around 2% of the landmass in the US, or about 63,000 square miles.   Research has indicated that highly managed turfgrass offers little support to...
Finish this story
Kale and kohlrabi seedlings in a garden center.

Frost dates and spring vegetable planting

The past few weeks, we’ve had spectacular weather for gardening, which has really ramped up efforts across central Illinois in preparation for the growing season to come.  This early spring warmth combined with garden centers packed full of new plants creates the irresistible impulse to plant...
Finish this story
Monarch caterpillar feeds on orange butterflyweed

Monarchs and milkweeds - nativars help pollinators

Among gardeners, there is an ever-growing interest in creating plant arrangements that support pollinators.  This has been driven by recent research identifying declining insect populations around the globe as gardeners respond with garden design to provide valuable habitat.  In addition,...
Finish this story