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Tales from a Plant Addict

Fun (& a few serious) facts, tips and tricks for every gardener, new and old.

American Chestnut

We've all heard the familiar holiday tune that begins "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire....", but here in central Illinois chestnuts are not a familiar site among native stands of trees. The American Chestnut, Castanea dentata , was at one point one of the most important forest trees in the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada. It was also one of the largest, growing up to 150...

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We may associate mistletoe with kisses during the holiday season, but mistletoe is a bully in the plant world. OK, technically it is a parasite. But practically speaking it is like a schoolyard bully looking for a victim to steal lunch money from. There is a lot more to mistletoe than I ever thought. Honestly, my experience with mistletoe is limited to the artificially-colored preserved...

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Keeping Gift Plants Healthy

This holiday season, you may have received a plant or two as gifts, won the centerpiece at a holiday party, or purchased a plant to decorate your home. Popular flowering plants sold this time of year include the ever-popular poinsettia, Christmas cactus, Norfolk Island Pine, cyclamen, amaryllis, orchids, and gardenias. "Everyday" foliage plants like ivy and philodendron are often sold trained i...

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Master Gardeners Help Others Learn to Grow

The idea for the Master Gardener program began in 1971 with two overwhelmed horticulture educators from Washington State University Extension, David Gibby and Bill Scheer. Their jobs were to bring urban and commercial horticulture programming to the major metropolitan areas surrounding Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. They soon discovered that with the rapid growth of bo...

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Probably the only question anyone ever asks me about holly is why theirs doesn't have berries on it. Everyone seems to plant holly because they want berries. I can see why–in an otherwise dreary winter landscape, a little splash of red is a welcome sight. The trick to producing the highly sought after red berries is realizing that holly is another one of those plants that is dioec...

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