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Tales from a Plant Addict

Fun (& a few serious) facts, tips and tricks for every gardener, new and old.

Strawberries-- Fragaria spp.

Along with other early spring crops like broccoli, cabbage and lettuce, it is a great time of year to plant some strawberries in your home garden. They are an especially kid-friendly crop to grow at home. Once my niece and later my son found the strawberries in our garden, none have made it into the house. They all get consumed on site! The strawberry plant was considered valuable for i...

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One of the most common questions I'm asked each fall is "What kind of mum should I plant that will definitely survive the winter?" While it is definitely more challenging to find mums for sale this time of year, planting mums in the spring is one way to increase the odds that they will survive the winter, since they will be thoroughly rooted and established before winter winds blow. The...

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Hydrangeas are one of those plants that both enamor and frustrate gardeners. As much as we love them, when they don't live up to either how they looked when we purchased them, or they don't look like the catalog picture, we wonder what we're doing wrong. I planted my first hydrangea as a new homeowner eleven years ago, and for the first two years hoped no one noticed that the local horticulture...

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Apricots are native to Asia, and there is some debate on exactly where, since they were so extensively grown since ancient times, dating back to about 3000 years ago. Their Latin name, Prunus armeniaca is thought to have arisen from an incorrect assumption that apricots were from Armenia. The silk trade with China introduced Europeans to the apricot, and their popularity soared....

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Easter Lily-- Lilium longiflorum

This Easter, many people will buy an Easter lily or two. What do Bermuda, World Wars I and II, and Japan have to do with Easter lilies? As it turns out, they have quite a lot to do with the lilies we associate with Easter. Historically, lilies have appeared in art, mythology, and literature, particularly the Bible, as a symbol of purity, hope, and life. Traditionally, Christian churches...

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Spring Houseplant Care

Despite the recent mild weather, we still consider the official frost free date for central Illinois to be around Mother's Day/May 15th. Some early spring plants, like pansies, broccoli, and cabbage can survive light frost. More and more over the years I've noticed warm weather plants popping up in stores well before Mother's Day— tomatoes and peppers for example. These warm weather plants are...

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Passion Flower

My first encounter with a passion flower plant was back in high school when I succumbed to a display at my local garden center. The display promised beautiful passion flower plants easily grown from seed, and prominently featured was a gorgeous picture of a passion flower. I remember the seeds were packaged in yellow plastic eggs, and the package showed a cartoon of a very happy gardener and a...

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