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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Drip irrigation in a raised bed garden.
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Wise Watering Tips for Gardeners

What is the best way to water plants? Community watering restrictions, rural water shortages, and high water costs sometimes require homeowners to make some tough decisions about outdoor water use. Here are ten wise watering tips for gardeners. Establish plant priority needs for water by watering only your most valuable plants. Consider a plants value, its replac...

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Pet-scaping Your Yard

A walk in the park or a scroll through Facebook quickly show how many people have cats and dogs. The American Pet Products Association estimated that approximately 44% of all households in the United States had a dog, and 35% had a cat in 2015-2016. These pet owners love to watch their furry friends frolic and roll in the lawn. They also cringe when the animals dig up, eat, defecate on, and som...

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Even the cactus are suffering in the hot, dry sand. on 7-13-12

Prickly Pear Cactus in Illinois

Posted by Rhonda J. Ferree -

Hundreds of minute, barbed bristles poked out of the bottom of my foot as Dad gently plucked each one away from my throbbing flesh. Our family was camping in Spring Lake State Park near Havana, Illinois one summer when I was about 10 years old. I clearly remember trying to avoid the hot pavement on my bare feet by diverting to the leaf-strewn roadside. Unfortunately, like a spider in its web, h...

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Kim St John Butterfly Habitat at Wildlife Prairie Park

Butterfly Gardening

If you love butterflies, you could also put in a butterfly garden habitat in your own yard. You don't need a lot of space to attract our native butterflies. There are two different types of plants you can grow for butterflies: nectar food sources and larval food sources. Nectar sources attract the adult butterfly. Many different types of flowers will serve as a nectar source. Av...

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit! Elmer Fudd from The Looney Tunes said it right, "Bugs Bunny?! You're a pesky wabbit!" I have replanted my tomato plants three times this spring. The first two times the plants were gone by the next morning, and I think the "cute" little rabbit I saw hop down my walk is the culprit! My first line of defense was to learn more about rabbits...

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White Grubs by Dr. Phil Nixon on 8-15-17

Originally published in Home, Yard, and Garden Newsletter on 8-15-17 Japanese beetles and masked chafer adults are attracted to moist soils and, apparently, to green grass to lay their eggs. In years when rainfall is abundant, nonirrigated (as well as irrigated) turf stays green and attractive to egg-laying female beetles. As...

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Chicory
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Roadside Flowers

Posted by Rhonda J. Ferree -

Recently I had a friend ask me what the blue flowers were along the roadside. Have you noticed the beautiful flowers blooming along our roadsides right now? Illinois roadsides are quite beautiful in late summer. She was referring to chicory that frequently grows along the compacted edges of roadsides. Chicory has a bright blue, 1 ½ inch wide flower and grows one to four...

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Purple Vegetables are Beautiful and Delicious

I have several purple vegetables and herbs growing in my garden this summer. Botanically, purple plants are fascinating to me. We all learn in science class that plants get their green color from the chlorophyll in their leaves, which is used in photosynthesis to make food. Actually, plants have three color pigments: chlorophyll (green) carotenoid (red), and anthocyanin (blue). Various...

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Goldenrod

The goldenrod is making a fantastic display this fall in my prairie and other unmown areas. I love watching the waves of gold sway on a sunny fall day. Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) thrives in sun to part sun and is a deer-resistant perennial. There are thirty different types of goldenrod that grow in Illinois. They range from the three foot to seven foot tall. Each has a cl...

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Basil

Lime Basil Adds Zest to Food and Drink

I grow several different types of basil, and try new ones each year. Usually, I end up preferring the basic sweet basil to other kinds, but not this year. A new favorite this year is lime basil. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) has many different cultivars. They are generally divided into four groups: sweet green, dwarf green, purple-leaf, and scented leaf. Lime Basil is a scented leaf...

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