Are my seeds still good? Testing seed germination. White paper towel with small green seedlings emerging from black seeds

Have you ever found a packet of seeds lying around and wondered if you could grow them? Every year when I get ready to start seeds, I inevitably find a half-full packet or a packet I forgot to plant altogether. Unfortunately, as seeds get older, their germination rate decreases. Fortunately, there is an easy way to test your seeds to see if planting them will be worthwhile.

How long do seeds last?

Many seeds are capable of lasting for several years if stored properly.

Ethnobotany: the power of plants and people background image woven baskets with native fruits and nuts including walnuts

Plants have played a major role in human development for as long as people have inhabited the earth. Human interaction with plants has been and continues to be a complex relationship. Many species have provided critical resources for sustaining life, while others threaten human harm if encountered or used without caution. The scientific field of ethnobotany studies how plants have influenced cultures around the world.

Massive fruit, myths, and mastodons: the Osage orange fruit of Osage orange in metal bucket

While traveling through the Midwest on leaf peeping adventures, modern day explorers may find a rather nondescript tree with unique, distinct fruit. A medium-sized tree adorned with large, round, chartreuse colored fruit can be easily identified as Maclura pomifera, or Osage orange. Although ordinary in appearance for most of the year, and not often planted today, this species has an extraordinary tale to tell.

Autumn allergies: don’t blame goldenrod bee on yellow goldenrod bloom

As the growing season draws to an end, temperatures cool, woody plants prepare for dormancy, and we enjoy the last blooms of the season. For many of us, autumn also means sniffles and sneezes caused by seasonal allergies.

blackcapped chickadee with a caterpillar in it's mouth

Invite nature into your backyard

A parent fed up with their child’s persistent use of technology (internet, video games, tablet, you name it!) has decided to pull the plug on their sedentary habits. They strip the devices from their child’s hands and throw them outside and say “Go play!” The child looks around. Before them lays their entire suburban property comprised of lawn. Looking left and right they see their neighbor’s yard, more lawn.

Add some fireworks to your garden this Fourth of July. Pink flowers of nodding onion.

The Fourth of July holiday often includes parades, barbeques, and fireworks. Fireworks often fill the night sky with their colorful, albeit fleeting displays. The fireworks don’t have to be restricted to the Fourth, though. Whether it be their color, flower shape, or name, a number of plants can add some “fireworks” to your landscape to enjoy throughout the growing season.

developing hazelnuts

You’ve likely heard of hazelnuts, perhaps even used them in some delightful dessert or savory dishes and garnishes. If you give my children a choice between peanut butter or a chocolaty hazelnut spread, the peanut butter jar remains unopened. About 40 percent of global hazelnut production goes into making one product – Nutella.

Spring brings spring beauties to the landscape - a clump of blooming spring beauty plants in turf

Have you ever noticed small white flowers dotting the landscape this time of year? Chances are they’re spring beauties (Claytonia virginica). While they may not be the first wildflowers to bloom, spring beauties are one of our earlier blooming wildflowers and a sure sign that spring has arrived. Individually, these wildflowers may not be the most impressive plants out there, but when growing in large masses, they are a sight to behold.

dark purple spathe of Dragon arum

It’s Halloween time again! Last year we had the inaugural list of Spooky and Scary Plants. While trick-or-treating and Halloween parties may look a little different this year, here are some more ‘spooky and scary’ plants to help you get in the Halloween spirit.

picture of cranberry plants and ripe cranberry fruit

Cranberries are a common sight this time of year. Americans consume nearly 400 million pounds of cranberries per year, and we consume about 20 percent of that during Thanksgiving week! Whether you eat them fresh, dried, as sauce or jellied or drink them, they are staples at many holiday meals. They can also be used in a variety of ways while decorating for the holidays.

Spooky and Scary plants with doll's eyes plant berries

Halloween is a time of trick-or-treating, witches, ghouls, and ghosts. When it comes to plants, we typically think of pumpkins. Carnivorous plants may also come to mind, what could be scarier than a plant turning the tables and eating insects? There are plenty of other ‘spooky and scary’ plants out there to help get you in the mood.