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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Watering bags work well for new trees.
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Reduce Tree Stress to Keep Them Healthy

The most common questions we get in our Extension offices are about trees. Unfortunately, most people do not notice their trees until they show major dieback or leaf drop. Often by the time we get the call, the tree has irreversible damage, and I have no magic formula to save it. The odd weather patterns the last past few years have left many trees stressed. Stressed trees are less able...

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Emerald ash borer hole and adult beetle
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Plan For Your Ash Tree's Future

The dreaded Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) continues to cause havoc across Illinois, and beyond. As I drive around Peoria and Tazewell counties, I see dead and dying ash trees everywhere. Although it looks like the insect is killing the trees quickly, it is likely that the borer has been there for a few years. Of the four counties that I cover as a Horticulture Educator with University of Illi...

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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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Venus fly trap
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Plants That Move

No plants do not have legs, but they do move. Although I don't see it happen, each week my African violet leaves lean toward the light requiring me to straighten them with a quarter turn. I also don't see the prayer plants fold their leaves each night and reopen them each morning. Usually, plant movement is very subtle. Yet, there are a few plants that will move right before your eyes....

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swallowtail butterfly
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Butterflies Spread Cheer

I am seeing more butterflies this summer than I have in recent years. As I walk my property, I see monarchs, swallowtails, buckeyes, hackberry, painted ladies, cabbage whites, and more. This year I even saw a viceroy while mowing! Although there are many reasons for the increase in butterflies this year, I'd like to think that my choice of plants has helped. Adult butterflies suck necta...

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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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IMG 0938
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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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