Skip to main content

Horticulture

Eliana' Garden memorial rock in her garden

Gardening can help you heal while grieving

In August of 2020, I received a call with the news that is every mother’s nightmare. There had been an accident and my six-year-old daughter did not survive. That week, her lovely kindergarten teacher brought us five plants to start a butterfly garden. Although I already loved gardening, at that...
Finish this story
spring flowers in a flower bed with mulch

Select the best mulch for your garden

There are many types of mulch that can be used in landscapes and gardens. Here are some things to consider as you choose the mulch that works best for your space. Benefits of mulch Even though there are different types of mulch, they do have some important things in common.  One of the big...
Finish this story
Seedling in hand

Start saving your seeds today!

Getting Started with Seed Saving If you find the perfect tasting tomato, harvesting and saving the seed will ensure you can have that tomato again next season. The seed stores the genetic information for a new plant. With a bit of practice and patience, you can have the seeds of your favorite...
Finish this story
Poinsettias

Sharing and caring for the Poinsettia

The beautiful Poinsettia is a colorful plant that brightens dark winter days. Whether you use it to decorate for the holiday season or it was given to you as a gift, giving the plant the care it needs can keep it colorful for six to eight weeks in the home. The showy-colored parts of the...
Finish this story
Poinsettias

Find the ideal Poinsettia

The festive poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a lovely addition to holiday décor. The bright, cheery plant, a native to Mexico, comes in many colors and sizes making it a good choice to brighten up the long, dark days of winter. The showy colored parts of the poinsettia are...
Finish this story
Seed in a glass

The ABC of seed saving

At first: Why save seeds?  Saving seeds is a great way to save money and be prepared for the following year, but it is also a way to pick out the best of what you have grown and save seeds from that specimen (flower, vegetable, etc.). With each successive year, you...
Finish this story
Crimson Clover

Cover crops to the rescue

Healthy soil is essential for healthy plants.  Using cover crops in the home garden is one way to promote soil health.  Cover crops are non-harvested crops that add organic matter to the soil, transfer nitrogen by creating nitrogen compounds usable by plants, and break up heavy clay or...
Finish this story
plate of Christmas cookies

Sugar and spice make everything nice

Sugar and spice make everything nice, especially Christmas cookies. But, do you know where your sugar and spice come from? Plants make the sugar glucose during photosynthesis. Certain plants can take excess glucose, create sucrose then stored it in either the stalk or root. This is the sugar we...
Finish this story
composte bins in yard

Save wetlands, use soilless potting mixtures

Peat wetlands are delicate ecosystems that take thousands of years to form. Peat accumulates at a rate of about 1 millimeter per year. When the peat moss industry harvests 22 centimeters per year, it is easy to see why there is a concern for its sustainability.  Many rare plants and animals...
Finish this story
wedding bouquet using local blooms

Think local for eco-friendly and beautiful wedding flowers

Flowers are a wonderful way to make any wedding day special.  There are many ways to choose beautiful and sustainably grown and arranged flowers.  Choose a local source for your blooms. Flowers that are locally grown have a much smaller carbon footprint than flowers flown thousands of...
Finish this story
jumping worm

Stop the spread of jumping worms and other invasive species

Thoroughly clean tools, shoes, and vehicles when moving from one site to another. Only purchase compost, mulch, or other organic matter that has been heated to appropriate temperatures and duration to reduce the spread of pathogens, insects, and weeds. Jumping worm egg casings do not survive...
Finish this story
jumping worm

Invasive Jumping Worms Confirmed in Peoria County

Originally posted April 15, 2021 Jumping worms (Amynthas spp) are an invasive earthworm probably brought into the country as fishing bait. They go by many names, such as crazy worms, Alabama jumpers, or snake worms. These worms are known to change the soil structure, deplete...
Finish this story
pothos

Popular houseplants: Is it philodendron or pothos?

Two houseplants that are often confused with each other are philodendron and pothos. Many houseplants are referred to as philodendron, but most are probably actually pothos. Both are vining plants with green leaves, but they have some distinctive characteristics that will help you to tell them...
Finish this story
Dried flowers in vase

DIY dried flowers for Thanksgiving

Bring nature to the table this Thanksgiving by creating decorations from collected natural materials. Fall is a great time to explore outdoors and use what you find almost directly in arrangements after gathering. Dry not Damp Make sure to collect when material is dry. Damp material breaks down...
Finish this story

Sugar-n-Spice and Everything Nice

Sugar and spice make everything nice, especially Christmas cookies. But, do you know where your sugar and spice come from? Sugar beets vs Sugarcane The sugar we use comes from two different plants: sugar beets or sugarcane. Sugarcane Worldwide, 70% of our sugar comes from sugarcane. Sugarcane...
Finish this story

Spirited Plants

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Happy New Year! Where did 2016 go? Whether you toast in the New Year with sparkling grape juice or a more spirited drink, it is interesting to think of all the plants that make up spirits. Spirits are actually named by the fermented...
Finish this story

Gifts for the gardener

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Are you searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family? Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, provides the following some ideas that might prove helpful. Gardeners always love...
Finish this story

Fall and winter deer damage

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Deer hunting season is upon us, and so it seems appropriate to do an article about deer damage to landscape plants. Fall and winter are a time when deer can cause significant damage to landscape plants. Two types of damage can occur...
Finish this story

Rhonda Ferree's 2017 Horticulture Program

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator I invite you to check out my video that details my vision for my University of Illinois Extension, Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit horticulture program. My 2017 goals are to continue building on the successful program, support our...
Finish this story

Do plants predict the weather?

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator We've all heard wives'-tales that predict the weather. I can still hear my grandma saying, "Red sky at night, sailors delight; Red sky in morning, sailors warning." There are legends of people using groundhogs, hornets, woolly bear...
Finish this story

How Plants Climb

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator As a plant geek I am often fascinated by how plants work. Take vining and climbing plants and the methods that they use to grow vertically. In broad terms, climbing plants are either clinging or non-clinging. As the name implies,...
Finish this story

Clone Your plants

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Do you have an annual flower in your garden this year that you especially like and want to use again next summer? You might be able to clone it using vegetative propagation methods. I have a coleus plant that I particularly like in...
Finish this story

Mosses

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator On a camping trip in Southern Illinois my husband Mark kept taking pictures of non-flowering plants. His pictures made the ferns, mosses, lichens, and club moss look like something right out of a fairytale. In fact, these non-...
Finish this story

Beware of Dangerous Carrots!

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator While on a recent motorcycle ride with my husband Mark, I saw a lot of plants in the carrot family Apiaceae growing along roadsides. One of my favorite vegetables is the very edible carrot, but unfortunately the carrot family has a...
Finish this story

Backyard greenhouses extend the garden season

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Every year my Dad, Ron Simmons, starts many annual plants for our family in his backyard greenhouse. I get most of my flowering annuals, vegetables, and herbs from dad's greenhouse. His plants are amazingly healthy and grow better...
Finish this story

Plants tied To our health and wellness

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator The second trend I'm covering from the 2016 Garden Media Group garden trend report is Welltality, which is all about how horticulture is intrinsically tied to health and wellness. I've written many times about the...
Finish this story

Just what Is flax?

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator I have been enjoying trying new foods using recipes that often call for ingredients I'm not familiar with. Last week I learned that quinoa is a grain-like seed with high protein value. Now, let's take a closer look at flax. Flax is...
Finish this story

Clone Your Plants

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Do you have an annual flower in your garden this year that you especially like and definitely want to use again next summer? You might be able to clone it using vegetative propagation methods. I have a coleus plant that I...
Finish this story

Leaves of Three, Let It Be

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Are your summer outings followed by days of itching discomfort? Knowing more about poison ivy and how it grows might help you avoid rash problems later. Remember the old adage, Leaves of Three, Let It Be! Poison ivy grows in various...
Finish this story

Mother's Day

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Don't forget you special Mom on Mother's Day! If you haven't bought something special for her yet, consider these ideas. You can be sure I'll get my Mom (Doris Simmons) a special horticultural gift for Mother's Day. A gift of fresh...
Finish this story

Seed catalog lingo

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator Now is the time of year when we prepare our seed catalog orders for spring. Seed catalogs can tell you a lot, provided you understand the "lingo". Greg Stack, Retired Horticulture Extension Educator, provided the following...
Finish this story