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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
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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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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