1. Published

    As the crisp cool air of fall approaches, you might enjoy warming up with a sweatshirt or cuddling up with an additional blanket, and you are not alone! Many insects and other pests are making plans to move somewhere warm to survive the winter, and often that place is your home.

  2. Published

    It has begun. The corn has turned. Transforming much of the Illinois landscape into a sea of tan. The soybeans are following with their yellow hues. Combines churn away, as the heavy scent of plant debris permeates the truck cab. Bright seas of goldenrod sway in the wind, as if a welcome mat laid down for autumn. Within the goldenrod mass, you may spot dots of purple asters. I was once told the colors of Western Illinois University were inspired by the fall colors of the prairie – goldenrod and purple aster.

  3. Published

    As the calendar turns from August to September, chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum x morifolium), aka mums, start appearing in nurseries and garden centers. These plants are a staple in many landscapes in the fall and can provide some much-needed color to our landscapes when most other garden plants are starting to decline.

  4. Published

    Fall armyworms are here, and can you say destructive? Some entomologists have even said it is the worst they have seen in 30 years! Damage done by fall armyworms this year has been seen in lawns, hayfields, pastures, soybeans, corn, and gardens.

    With a large appetite and their habit of “marching” in large numbers, FAW can do some damage in just a few days.

  5. Published

    Working for Illinois Extension I get to travel quite often, mostly throughout west-central Illinois. And 2021 has brought a significant decline in ash trees in this area.

    The Story of EAB

    Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a non-native insect that attacks healthy ash trees. EAB is nothing new. I have written about this insect before, mainly when it was first discovered in the area around four years ago. Yet at that time, the effects of EAB had not yet been felt. Today it is obvious how they have ravaged the landscape.

  6. Published

    Irises are easy to grow, long-lived, and relatively carefree perennials, making them some of the most popular flowers in gardens. They can also be found in a variety of colors, ranging from pink, purple, yellow, peach, green, white, tan, bronze, to almost black, and bi-color.

    The American Iris Society divides irises into three main classifications: bearded, aril, and beardless Irises. The most common type of iris grown are bearded irises.

  7. Published

    August is National Peach month, and who doesn’t love fresh peaches! Not only is the whole month dedicated to celebrating peaches, but we also have Eat a Peach Day on August 22nd and National Peach Pie Day on August 24th. If President Reagan was really thinking, he would have also named August National Ice Cream month because who doesn’t love ice cream with peach pie, cobbler, crisp, or just peaches by themselves!

  8. Published

    This year has been good for many plants, but not all. In late spring Central Illinois went through almost three weeks where it rained at least once per day. Many of our plants responded to this favorably. Standing in a pollinator garden a few days ago, the goldenrod towered over me. Our vegetable gardens have seldom needed a drink from the hose. Even the grass has remained mostly green and actively growing.

  9. Published

    Milkweeds have become a popular garden plant the last several years. They are most commonly planted to help support monarch butterflies because milkweeds are the sole food source for monarch caterpillars.

    Milkweeds contain toxic compounds (cardiac glycosides) to deter animals (insects and mammals) from feeding on them. However, monarchs have evolved to be able to feed on these plants. Additionally, they can take these chemicals and incorporate them into their bodies, making them unpalatable as well.

  10. Published

    There’s nothing more devastating than walking out to your garden to discover your squash plants are wilted or dead. An insect known as the squash vine borer is one that will cause damage to your cucurbit plants by tunneling into the stems.  Once you have had an encounter with squash vine borer, it is one you will never forget.

  11. Published

    How full is your invasive species radar? All I can say is my view is overwhelmed. Dealing with the current group of Japanese beetles, emerald ash borer, bush honeysuckle, and so many more. Plus, in Illinois, we are girding for the impending arrival of the very destructive spotted lanternfly. Then a notification arrives the USDA has prohibited the import of boxwood, holly, and Euonymus species from Canada to prevent the spread of the box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis). I didn’t even look that one up to see what it does, but I bet it’s not good.

  12. Published

    “I found this bug in my garden; what is it, and how do I kill it?” This is a common question that comes into extension offices. While it may seem like every insect out there is trying to eat your plants, not all the insects you see in your garden are pests. In fact, fewer than 1% of all insects are considered pests, meaning the vast majority are beneficial or, at the very least benign.

  13. Published

    They’re back! After hitching their initial ride on imported ornamental plants in 1916, Japanese beetles decided North America isn’t such a bad place to live and have made a presence year after year since.  Today, these pests can be a serious nuisance to gardeners and farmers throughout North America feeding on over 300 different species of trees, shrubs, and non-woody plants.

  14. Published

    Landscape fabric. It’s what goes under the mulch. Right? I’ve had several conversations with home gardeners looking for a permanent solution to keeping the weeds down and each time I warn them about the use of landscape fabric.

    If you’re thinking, “Hang on! Landscape fabric doesn’t work?” Of course, you’ve seen people on TV and perhaps watched professional landscapers roll out the black landscape fabric before spreading mulch. And why does every garden center sell the stuff if it doesn’t work?

  15. Published

    After some up and down temperatures earlier this year, it seems summer has settled in for good. While a lot of the work we do in the garden happens in the spring, that doesn’t mean we can coast through the summer. Here are some things we can be doing in our landscapes to help keep them going through the summer.

  16. Published

    Why are we talking about pumpkins in June? Because if you want home-grown pumpkins for Halloween, it is best to get them planted now!

    Good Growing Fact
    Did you know Illinois is ranked #1 for pumpkin production with more than 10,000 acres planted in 2019? Morton, IL, is considered the Pumpkin Capital of the World because 85% of the world’s canned pumpkin is packed there.

  17. Published

    Fertilizer does not actually “feed” your plants. Let’s be clear, plants get their food from sunlight. I know we may have heard about photosynthesis and not paid much mind to this process. I was the same way. I remember sitting in high school biology learning about animal cells and plant cells and then hearing the teacher explain photosynthesis. Without a doubt, the term and definition of photosynthesis were placed in my short-term memory to get me through the next biology test, and afterward, it was mostly forgotten.

  18. Published

    When it comes to invasive insects, much of our attention is directed towards those that cause a great deal of damage, such as Japanese beetles and emerald ash borer. However, there are some other invasive insects present in Illinois that pose a threat to our plants and even us that you should be aware of.

  19. Published

    In 1946 Robert Allerton transferred the ownership of a large parcel of his estate near Monticello to the University of Illinois. The Allerton legacy gift is now used as a public park, a conference and retreat center, and a 4-H youth camp. 

    Now, 75 years later, nearly all of its 1,600 woodland areas are challenged by invasive plant species presenting many challenges to the professionals entrusted to its care.    

  20. Published

    The Asian longhorned beetle is a non-native pest that threatens a number of hardwood trees in North America. The larva damage living trees as they tunnel through.