Serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties

gardeners, leaf, rose, MG logo

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer program open to anyone with the desire to learn and to share information with others about research-based landscape and gardening practices.

Master Gardeners reach into the communities with a variety of projects in partnership with local organizations, and they also staff the Master Gardener Help Desk by assisting residents with garden and landscape questions.

Volunteers participate in extensive training sessions conducted by University of Illinois Extension specialists and educators in horticulture, insects, diseases, grasses, woody and herbaceous ornamentals, and fruits and vegetables. The Master Gardener program provides 60 hours of horticultural training in return for 60 hours of volunteer time. Much of the first 60 volunteer hours must be completed at the Master Gardener Help Desk, which is open to the public during the growing season (see details below).

Need to contact the Help Desk?

We're still here to help you grow! The DuPage County Master Gardener Help Desk is available via email at this time.

Please send a detailed message with your question, and a volunteer will get back to you, often by the next operating day (Monday/Wednesday/Friday). Please see the tips below to guide your submission. We look forward to helping you!

We're still here to help you grow. Photo of seedlings.

General Submission Tips:

  • Please check your images before submitting them.
    • If they look out-of-focus to you, they will not be helpful to us.
  • Send a maximum of 10 images per sample/question.
  • When possible, please include a size reference in your photos (such as a pen, ruler or a coin).
  • For plant identifications, please include a photo of the whole plant AND close-ups of plant parts
    • Parts may include leaves, flowers, roots, fruit, seeds, etc.
  • As with actual samples, please include as much additional information as possible.
    • This could include planting date, age of plant, chemicals used, number of plants affected, where found, patterns, when symptoms were first noticed, etc.
  • Email to uiemg-dupage@illinois.edu

If you are a DuPage County resident and would like to receive information about the next Master Gardener training in 2022, please complete this Master Gardener Training Interest Form. You will be placed on our email list to receive information about the next informational meeting and the application process.

To become a Master Gardener, you must attend the orientation meeting where you will learn about our program and how to apply. The horticulture staff reviews all applications and an interview is required. Applications for 2020 are now closed.

University of Illinois Extension is pleased to present these horticultural programs to your DuPage County group. To request a program please fill out the Request Form.                 

Bloomin’ Bulbs - Flowering bulbs add color to our gardens from early spring to late fall, blooming in many colors, shapes, sizes and heights. Tips on common and not so common bulbs and their allies including colors, planting, watering issues, and pointers on their use as cut flowers will be discussed.

BodySmart Gardening - The effects of gardening on our bodies can make it more of a chore than a pleasure. This lesson will help one garden "smartly" with emphasis on approved methods to reduce stress and strain on the body.  Learn some clever tips and tricks to help you safely, comfortably and efficiently complete your garden tasks. (non-PowerPoint)

Bulbs: Basics, Myths, and Truths *NEW* - Bust some of the myths we always thought were true with latest research. This presentation is an interactive style that will allow the presenter to make a statement allowing the audience to vote if they think it is a truth or myth before revealing the answer. This presentation will allow the Master Gardeners to teach the basics of bulb care during the late summer and fall months while gardeners are planting.

Care of Holiday Gift Plants - How do you take care of those holiday gift plants after the holidays?  Learn about the varieties and care of these colorful plants. (non—PowerPoint)

Composting: Building Your Garden from the Ground Up - This program touts the benefits of composting.  Improve the health and vitality of your garden by using the organic matter generated in your home and yard.  

Creating a Shady Garden Respite *NEW* - This presentation covers both the art and science of gardening in the shade. Learn how to garden in the shade a give a variety of plant options beyond the usual hosta and fern. You’ll also learn other elements that are needed to round out a relaxing space that connects you with nature.

Designing a Flower Bed with Seasonal Interest *NEW* - Have you ever seen a garden that just took your breath away? You visit again, two months later, and the garden is again in full glory. How do people do this? How do design a garden that offers visual interest through the seasons? This lesson will walk you through the design process step-by-step, You will learn how to plan a garden that will offer you visual interest spring through fall with a few winter accents as well.

Don’t Use the Worst First: Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for the Home Gardener - Learn environmentally friendly pest management techniques and receive advice on the safe use of pesticides in the garden.

Enjoying Birds and Butterflies in Your Yard - Welcome birds and butterflies into your yard using bird feeders and/or "the natural way" with easy to grow plants and shrubs.

Easy Care Native Plants *NEW* - Many home gardeners would like to add native plants to their garden, but are unsure how to start. This program takes a look at the native plants that are low maintenance and grow in a wide range of conditions. Native grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs will be covered.

Edible Landscapes *NEW* - By combining fruit and nut trees, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers or berry bushes in aesthetically pleasing ways, edible landscapes can be just as attractive as ornamental ones. Learn how to eat your yard by creating a tasteful home landscape using edible plants.

Fairy Gardens - Unlock the mystery into the magical world of Fairy Gardening!  This program is designed to inspire you to create your own miniature garden (inside or out) where gnomes, fairies, elves and other wee folk can frolic.  It covers the basic folklore of this age old form of gardening, as well as ideas in design, construction, use of creative containers, plant material choices and of course, accessories.  It's a whimsical look into the world of fantasy!

Fall Garden Clean-Up *NEW* - End of the growing season cleanup can be a daunting task, especially with large yards. This presentation will help organize fall tasks into an easy month-by-month to-do list and provide a printable checklist to help you check-off the tasks.

Good Guys in the Garden: Attracting Beneficial Insects - What is ailing your plants?  How can you tell the good bugs from the bad bugs?  Get tips on attracting beneficial insects to the garden and other pest management options.            

The Herb Patch - Whether you’re a new or advanced herb gardener, this program offers information useful in selection, care and uses of a variety of herbs.  (non—PowerPoint)

The Meaning of Flowers: Floriography *NEW* - Should you send a red or white rose to the one you love? Through the ages, various flowers and floral arrangements have taken on subtle and secret messages that allow us to express our unspoken feelings. Learn how to send the most appropriate floral message to your friends and family.

Native Plants for All Seasons - Discover the advantages of using prairie plants in the home landscape.  Plants are categorized for the garden by the month when they reach their peak. 

Native Pollinators *NEW* - When it comes to pollination, honey bees get a majority of the attention. However, many insects play a role in pollination. This presentation will discuss different native pollinators and how to make your landscape attractive to them.

Right Plant, Right Place: Healthy Plants with Less Maintenance - Get some helpful tips on how to select and care for your plants with less work.  making good choices from the start will help you enjoy your garden more.

Seed Starting: Giving Your Garden a Head Start - Jump-start the spring growing season.  Learn about the equipment and methods used for starting seeds indoors.  This program offered in winter and early spring only.

Tea Gardens - Learn the history and tradition of tea gardens.  Discover the different types of tea gardens and plants to grow for your very own special space.

Vegetable Gardening - Learn the basics of vegetable gardening: preparation of the soil, choosing the right location and selecting plant varieties to help you successfully grow your own vegetables.

Vegetable Gardening in Raised Beds and Containers *NEW* - Don’t have usable space in the ground to grow your vegetables? Learn how to use above ground growing systems for safe and fruitful production of your favorite backyard vegetables. Methods to increase production by maximizing your space, recommended soil and fertilizer practices and construction material options will be reviewed.

Viva les Vines! - Maximize your garden space by growing up.  Learn all about vines, the support structures they need and some of the best perennial and annual vines for our growing area.

Winter Sowing - Learn this easy method of seed starting. Seeds are planted in "mini greenhouses" during the cold winter months, germinate outside, and are ready to transplant once the ground thaws.