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Tales from a Plant Addict

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

Overwintering Tropical Plants

Tropical plants have grown in popularity for use in outdoor landscaping. Some have been a garden staple for years, like cannas, elephant ears, and dahlias. Others are less familiar, like banana, mandevilla, and bougainvillea. Most will not survive the cold temperatures of an Illinois winter without being moved indoors. Even though the weather is still very summer-like, if you have any i...

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Blue Tomatoes

For the ninth year in a row, Macon County Master Gardeners, Green Thumb community gardeners and I have planted a selection of tomato cultivars for our annual Tomato Taste Panel. This year we will taste tomatoes on Wednesday, September 3 rd at 1 and 6 p.m. During this event, we invite the community to join us in tasting over 20 different heirloom and hybrid tomato cultivars. The goal i...

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Besides vine-ripened tomatoes, my favorite produce harvested from my garden each summer is fresh basil. The spicy sweet fragrance is no comparison to the faded scent of dried versions. Basil is an ancient herb that has many legends attached to it. Legend links basil to just about any emotion or feeling imaginable—love and hate, pain and pleasure, basil has been associated with all of th...

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Hydrangeas are one of those plants that both enamor and frustrate gardeners. As much as we love them, when they don't live up to either how they looked when we purchased them, or they don't look like the catalog picture, we wonder what we're doing wrong. I planted my first hydrangea as a new homeowner nine years ago, and for the first two years hoped no one noticed that the local horticulture e...

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Plants and the Weather

The Master Gardener Help Desk at the Extension office is always busy this time of year. Calls come in year round, but spring and summer are always the busiest months. It's not unusual to see the same problem show up again and again depending on the time of year. For example, Japanese Beetle questions typically begin in late June, and Asian Lady Beetle questions usually start in the fall as the...

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