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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

All About Rose Slugs

Despite making it through a brutally cold winter, knockouts and other rose varieties are being eaten by the larvae of sawfly stated Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup. The larvae, not a slug, is yellow- green and velvety looking, 1/2" long, found on the underside of the rose leaves or in flower buds. The leaves are left riddled with feeding holes between veins. They excrete slimy substance all...

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Red admiral butterfly on Mexican zinnia on 9-17-12
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Master Naturalists Learn About Butterflies and More!

The Wildlife Prairie Park Butterfly Habitat was awarded a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Teamwork Award at an awards banquet in Champaign on June 13 th . The Master Gardener Teamwork Award recognizes groups of Master Gardeners who work together to accomplish a common goal for the betterment of their communities. The Kim St. John Butterfly Habitat is an excellent exam...

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Slug on hosta

Slugs a Common Hosta Pest

If you find large, ragged holes in the leaves of hosta (and other) plants in your garden and notice a slime trail as well, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator warns you may have a slug or two taking up residence. Slugs are one of the first pests of spring and hatch from jelly-like masses found under boards, flower pots, and other damp areas of the g...

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Japanese Beetle Update by Dr. Phil Nixon

Many Japanese beetle larvae did not survive the winter, particularly in the northern half of the state. Research has shown that Japanese beetle grubs do not migrate deeper than 11 inches into the soil for the winter. They die if the soil temperature reaches 15 degrees F or if they are subjected to freezing temperatures for 2 months. Last winter the soil was frozen to 15 inches deep in centra...

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Illinois Govenor's Mansion Grounds

The recent University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Team professional improvement meeting in Springfield included three tour sites. One location was the grounds at the governors mansion. I've been to the grounds many times and am always impressed by it, especially considering the minimal budget that it operates with. Groundskeeper Harry Lewis is paid entirely by donors and secures many donati...

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Removing Tree Stumps

Recent droughty summers, a cold winter, and various other environmental and pest problems have killed many trees in our area. Usually when a tree is removed a stump is left behind. Here are several suggestions on how to remove tree stumps easily, quickly, and economically. According to Bob Frazee, retired University of Illinois Natural Resources Educator, the cheapest a...

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Hummingbird moth on honeysuckle vine on May 7, 2012
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Bush Honeysuckle – Loved and Hated

Honeysuckle flowers are popular and there is a certain nostalgia associated with this old flower. It's not that surprising then that a quick internet search retrieved over 100 song lyrics that included "honeysuckle," says Michele Weisbrook, University of Illinois Extension Specialist. My drive to work this morning was blessed with an abundance of flowers...and a husband...

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Lavender blooms in front of bird bath.


I've had several questions about lavender this spring. Most gardeners wonder if their lavender survived the winter, but others want to know how to use it. Lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia ) is an ancient herb. It has been a long-time favorite in cottage gardens and edging. Lavender is long revered in literature and song. Today, lavender is a key ingredient in soaps and shampoo,...

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Fire Blight on Callery Pear

"Fire Blight symptoms were observed on several Callery Pears this past week," says Travis Cleveland, University of Illinois extension specialist. "The symptoms were more severe than those observed during the 2013 growing season." Fire blight is a bacterial disease that affects rosaceous plants. Apples, pears, crabapples, and ornamental pears are the most seriously affected speci...

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Master Gardeners help at community gardens

Cultur-vating…connecting food and culture

May brings us our sixth gardening trend for 2014: Cultur-vating. "Taking local to the next level, people are growing the world in their gardens, mixing cultures and embracing what is local to their own region." Growing our own food is more popular than ever. Bringing culture and foods together makes it even more exciting. I first heard about using food to connect people with cul...

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Hummingbird moth on honeysuckle vine on May 7, 2012
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Bee-neficials: It's all about the bees this year

Pollinators are an essential requirement for many of our favorite food crops. "News on bee and other pollinator populations is everywhere this spring," says Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. Pollination is a process that takes place in a flower to transfer pollen from the male the female flower part, thus producing a fruit (or vegetable). The...

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