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Tales from a Plant Addict

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

Keeping Holiday Plants Healthy

As the Holidays approach, many of us will use a plant or two (or more) to decorate our homes. With a little extra attention, their beauty can last well past the Holidays. When selecting plants for purchase, pay attention to where the plants are displayed in the store. Warm or cold drafts can harm many holiday plants—it's not unusual to find displa...

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"Bonsai" trees appear in all sorts of stores as we near the Holidays. You may find them at a garden center, you may find them at the local big-box store or discount club. I was fascinated by bonsai the first time I saw some for sale at a local nursery in high school. They were as cute as could be—perfect trees in miniature. I surrendered $15 of my hard earned babysitting money and took...

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Sage (Salvia)

The holidays would not be the same without sage. Many people use the herb sage, Salvia officinalis as a seasoning for poultry, a common dish on holiday tables. But there is a lot more to sage than the culinary herb. The name sage encompasses a large group of ornamental and medicinal plants in the mint family. There are three different genera all considered to be types of sages:...

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Black Walnut

Plants have evolved some pretty interesting ways of insuring their own existence in the world. One tactic that fascinates me is allelopathy, which means that one plant harms another with chemicals it produces. A common example, and one that plagues homeowners is the black walnut, Juglans nigra , a tree native to eastern North America, including Illinois. All parts of black walnu...

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American Bittersweet

A plant to consider for a colorful fall display is American Bittersweet. But like a lot of plants, there are pluses and minuses to its use in the landscape. American Bittersweet, Celastrus scandens , is native to North America. It is a vigorously growing woody vine that may reach a height and width of twenty feet or more. All parts of this plant are considered poisonous, but it...

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Winter Squash

Winter squash have been a dominating theme at home and at work the last two weeks as we presented programs on the versatility of this often misunderstood vegetable. Many people decorate their homes with squash and pumpkins this time of year to evoke the fall season. But many people do not realize that many of these attractive squash are tasty as well. In general, people have heard of co...

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Apple Cider

Despite the proliferation of all the "pumpkin spice" flavored foods this time of year, apple cider is another flavor that says fall is here. A common question I've received is: "What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Aren't they the same thing?" The answer is "It depends." I hated it when one of my favorite professors in grad school would answer questions with this...

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