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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Garden Basics
Hosta garden
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How do Plant's Decide What Color to Wear?

Most plants have a very strict dress code, donning the same colors and style every year. When colors vary, the plant is simply named something else, or it indicates that there is a problem. Botanically, plant colors are fascinating to me. We all learn in science class that plants get their green color from chlorophyll in the leaves, and the plant uses the chlorophyll to photosynthesize...

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Cold Frames Extend the Garden Season

Do you plan to grow your own food this summer? Would you like to extend that growing season a bit more in the spring and fall? If so, there are several options you might consider, including cold frames, hot beds, hoop houses, cloches, and floating row covers. I remember my dad using a cold frame that he made of old windows to harden off plants in the spring before planting them in the g...

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Blue ceramic pots planted with a green spike for height and orange calibrachoa for the container%u2019s fillers and spillers.

Prepare Now for Spring Gardening

Last weekend I walked around my gardens with a journal and took notes. I jotted down what worked and what didn't and began preliminary plans for next year. This really helps me, since I tend to forget these things over the winter. My notes this fall tell me to definitely plant a Mandeville in the blue pot by the pool, but to begin training it sooner to grow over the deck. I will continu...

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Drip irrigation in a raised bed garden.

Low-Water Use Landscapes

My son Derek just moved to Monterey California to attend graduate school at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies. California has been in a drought for a very long time, and so water conservation is a real concern there. In fact, most of our western states have water availability and use issues. No matter where we live, we can all use water more efficiently. In the case of...

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Virginia creeper has leaflets of 3-7, while poison ivy has leaflets of 3.
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How Plants Climb

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, clinging vines attached themselves to a surface using special features, such as suction cups or aerial roots. Virginia creeper ( Parthenocissus quin...

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propagating holiday cactus with leaf cuttings

Clone Your Plants

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 my patio containers. Each fall I take a few cuttings from the plants and grow them on my kitchen windowsill for use next spring. If you are an avid g...

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Norfolk Island Pine
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January Garden Tasks

Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of gardening tasks you can do in January. Here are some to consider. For those of you who received poinsettias or other flowering holiday plants, be sure that they are near a bright window and water as the top of soil becomes dry. Most holiday plants will last many years with proper care. The most obvious January gardening activity is...

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dec

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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This beautiful display of fall blooming chrysanthemums at the home of Ron and Joan Bankes, 826 Taylor Ct. in Canton is the October 2010 recipient of the
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Fall Garden Tips

Fall is a fun, exciting, and busy time for gardeners. Many gardening activities are done in fall and some can only be done now. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says, "Think of fall as the start of next year's growing season, not the end of this gardening year." Mums (chrysanthemums to some) are a very popular fall flowering plant. They have be...

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propagating holiday cactus with leaf cuttings

Clone Your Plants

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 particularly like in my patio containers. Each fall I take a few cuttings from the plants and grow them in my kitchen windowsill for use next spring. If you ar...

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This compost is almost ready - at GoodEarth in Peoria
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Composting: Like Making Lasagna

Do you compost? Composting is the ancient art of mixing by-products from your yard with water, air, and time. What better way to dispose of leaves in the fall, grass clippings throughout the summer, and kitchen vegetable scraps than to turn them into compost? Composting is fun and simple. Simply take by-products from your yard, and layer them thinly and uniformly; the same way lasagna i...

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wnvhousetext
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Gardening in August

While walking around our yard last night my husband Mark commented that our gardens look better than ever. We usually spend August enjoying the garden instead of working in it all the time. Still there are several activities that can be done in August. First and foremost, don't let up on mosquito control. Dump the water! Mosquitoes will grow in almost anything that holds water. Take a walk aro...

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Seed Catalog Lingo

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 information before he retired to help people better understand the lingo of plant seed catalogs, such as F1 hybrids, determinate and indeterminate, monoecious, gynoecious, gy...

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IMG 8039 - Copy  ferreer@illinois edu
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Winterizing Container Grown Trees and Shrubs

Growing plants in containers is very popular. Almost anything can be grown in containers, including trees and shrubs. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that containers provide a feeling of permanence and beauty to an area. "Unfortunately for those of us in central Illinois, containerized plants often experience severe winter injury and ofte...

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Compost bins at Illinois governors mansion in Springfield, IL
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Recycled Leaves Make Inexpensive Mulch

Fall brings wiener roasts, festivals, and leaf removal. Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, suggests making good use of the fallen leaves in your yard. The tree leaves that accumulate in and around your landscape represent a valuable natural resource that can be used to provide a good source of organic matter and nutrients for use...

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Planting black tupelo tree

FALL PLANTING TREES

Fall is an ideal time to plant many woody trees and shrubs. Before grabbing the spade and digging a hole, Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, suggests that there are several important factors to consider. These include the suitability of the site where it is to be planted, the species involved, growth characteristics of the tree, the tree's age, and how t...

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Recycling Food Scraps

This year I plan to write once a month about one of the 12 garden trends from the 2014 Garden Media Group report. The trends are based on many facts and figures. They include technology and smart gardening techniques meant to find balance in the garden. The first garden trend is Ground Up: table to garden to table. According to the natural marketing institute, only 25%...

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Goldfinches on a finch feeder
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Bird Feeding Basics

Now is the time of year when I really enjoy feeding the birds and watching them from the comfort of my warm home. Before his retirement, Extension Educator Bob Frazee always had good tips on how to feed birds. Here is some of his information. Since enjoying birds is a major objective, you will want to locate the feeder where it can be conveniently viewed – and used. Due to differences in body...

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Gardening Tips on YouTube

When you need advice from a gardening expert but a trip to the gardening store isn't convenient, check out the University of Illinois Extension channel on YouTube. Visit www.youtube.com/uiextension for practical advice on a wide variety of gardening topics and more. "Everything from pruning to mulching to specific varieties of plants, tr...

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Gardening to lose weight

Our New Year's determination and resolutions to eat better, lose weight, and exercise more have gone by the wayside, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "Being cooped up indoors doesn't help either," added Martha Smith. "We look out the window at our sleeping gardens, planning for the coming season as we munch on carb after sugary carb." But there is h...

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