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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Pothos (Devil's Ivy)
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Poisonous Houseplants

Do your pets eat nibble on your houseplants. If so, Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, suggests that you should take a good look at your houseplants to assure poisonous ones are not within reach of children or pets. Ferree states that unfortunately there are a few houseplants that are quite poisonous to humans and/or animals. Remember that there...

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Cacao - chocolate in Jamaica
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Tropical cacao takes off winter chill

It is that time of year when a cup of hot chocolate and a chocolate cookie hit the spot. In my travels I've seen the tree where chocolate comes from and it always fascinates me. A few years ago a colleague of mine wrote all about chocolate's journey, beginning as a football-sized fruit on a tree in a warm tropical climate. Here is her article. Chocolate grows on the cacao tree (...

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December Garden Tips

GENERAL Clean and store hoses and flower pots. Clean and sharpen lawn and garden tools and store them in a dry storage area. Store leftover garden chemicals according to label directions, out of the reach of children. A home weather station that includes a minimum/maximum thermometer, a rain gauge and a weather log is a good gift for a ga...

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Hummingbird moth on honeysuckle vine on May 7, 2012
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Weeds Laws in Illinois

All weeds are not created equal. Some weeds are much more difficult to manage than others, thus proper identification is important. This is especially true for the ever increasing number of invasive plants that can quickly overtake an area if not kept under control. Invasive plant management happens at many levels, including legislative. The Illinois General Assembly recently amended the Illin...

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Rhonda Ferree by tulip tree as she explores Southern Illinois
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Gifts for the Nature Explorer

Every year I try to provide ideas for those of you who are searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family. This year I thought I'd focus instead on the nature explorers, though most are also gardeners. As the state Master Naturalist program coordinator for University of Illinois Extension, I travel all over Illinois training Master Naturalists. Part of my orientation pro...

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Diablo ninebark exfoliating stem
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The Tough and Durable Ninebark

I recently removed a larger overgrown, and invasive, burning bush in my yard and replaced it with an elderberry and a couple ninebarks. Trends in the gardening world include using easy to grow, dependable plants with unusual features. There is also a push to use more native plants, especially those that attract beneficial pollinators. Ninebark meets all of these criteria. Nineba...

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Repair Storm Damaged Trees with Care

Tree damage is just part of the devastation that severe storms afflicted throughout Illinois. It is important to use proper pruning techniques to help restore these plants' beauty and health, as well as to protect the safety of the home area and workers. University of Illinois Extension Educator Rhonda Ferree suggests the following procedures. "Tree damage, unless it's a hazard or...

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10-10-15 CDL bedbug

Household Pest Control Through Time by Dr. Phil Nixon

Control of household pests has changed considerably over the last 50 years, both outdoors and indoors. There has been a fine-tuning of methods and products over the years which has reduced exposure to pesticides but may have resulted in an inadvertent increase in some pests. Chlordane came on the market in the late 1950's and was soon accepted as a long-lasting, wide-...

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The Incredible Edible Elderberry

I have always loved elderberries. As a kid there was an elderberry bush outside my bedroom window. I waited patiently each summer for the first berry clusters to ripen. I'd eat them right off the plant whenever I walked or mowed past the delicious, though tart, fruit. This fall we removed a burning bush from our yard because it was overgrown and terribly invasive (new seedlings are ever...

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Sage in bloom on 4-30-12
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Herbs and Spices

Holiday dinners often include the traditional turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, and more. All these foods include a variety of herbs and spices, which make the food taste great! Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that there are differences between herbs and spices. "Herbs are leaves of low-growing shrubs," says Ferree. Examp...

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