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Prairies to Perennials

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Holiday Cacti

While the Poinsettia may be the most popular holiday plant, the holiday cactus is a tradition for many families. These easy to care for cactus generally live a long life. In fact I often hear about holiday cacti being passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom.  Holiday...
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History of Poinsettia

Red poinsettias are a traditional Christmas flower throughout much of the world. The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a member of the Euphorbiaceae or spurge family.  This colorful plant was discovered near the present-day city of Taxco, Mexico and the valleys surrounding Cuernavaca...
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Growing and Using Peppers

If you want to add zip and heat to your favorite entrée add a chile pepper. Peppers come in a variety of shapes, colors, range in taste from sweet and mild to hot. They are used in a wide variety of dishes from eating raw to seasoning and main dishes.  Peppers have the same basic growing...
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Seed Packets

Growing a plant from seed can be a very rewarding experience.  Here are a few tips to consider when shopping for seeds. Gardeners should buy seeds from a reputable source such as a local garden center or seed catalog company. Local garden centers will offer a small selection of seeds that...
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Rattlesnake Master

When a plant has “rattlesnake” in its name, there has to be a story behind it. There are at least three plants native to Illinois that do: Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens), Rattlesnake Root, also known as Rough White Lettuce (Prenanthes aspera), and Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium...
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Monarch butterflies are beautiful and their migration journey is inspiring. Monarchs need milkweeds because they MUST lay their eggs on milkweed leaves. It’s the only food the larva can eat. The caterpillars absorb toxins from milkweed plants into their bodies. The toxins will sicken birds, lizards...
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Colorful, sweet and juicy blueberries are a summertime treat. While blueberries are available year round at the local supermarket, they can be picked fresh from Illinois gardens during the summer months. Blueberries generally begin to ripen mid- June to early July. Depending on the weather, the...
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Spring Greens

Leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach are one of the first things harvested from a vegetable garden. These cool season crops which thrive when the average daily temperature is between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit cannot withstand hot summer days. High temperatures cause plants to bolt, or produce...
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Growing irises: How to plant, grow and care for iris

There aren’t very many plants that come in a wider range of color than iris. In the past 50 years, thousands of cultivars in various colors, sizes, and forms have been developed. I have about 20 cultivars of bearded iris in my garden including a small white and lavender variety that has been...
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A drive through any town or park in central Illinois and you will notice that most sycamore trees are void of any green leaves. So, what is causing this problem? Anthracnose, which is a disease that thrives with cool spring temperatures and frequent rains, is most likely the cause. The spores...
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