Signup to receive email updates

or follow our RSS feed


Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner

Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

Don't Raise Mosquitoes in Your Yard

Be sure to look for mosquito breeding sites in your yard. The first step to fighting mosquitoes MUST begin in YOUR backyard. West Nile Virus is most frequently transmitted through the house mosquito. Since it can only fly about 1-½ miles, this mosquito usually breeds and lives in our own backyards. After getting an adequate blood meal, the adult female mosquito lays her eggs in any stag...

Read More >

Mints are aggressive herbs that can quickly take over a garden.

Mints…Friend or Foe?

Mint! For some, the word brings to mind fresh breath, refreshing drinks, or a place where money is printed. As a plant nerd, to me, mint means square stems. Here's why. All mint plants are in the Lamiaceae family. Although not exclusive to this family, most mint stems are square rather than round or flat like other plants. Most are also quite aromatic. All mints have opposite leaf arran...

Read More >

Emerald Ash Borer update from Phil Nixon

Home, Yard, & Garden Newsletter  Issue 3 , May 15, 2017 Emerald ash borer adults are emerging in southern and central Illinois and will probably do so in northern Illinois in about two weeks. They will continue to emerge over several weeks. Now is the time to apply systemic insecticides to control this pest if emerald ash...

Read More >

State champion Bald Cypress tree in Southern Illinois along Cache River basin. That is my husband Mark kayaking up to it. It is only accessible by watercraft. The tip of my yellow kayak is shown at the bottom of the pictures - among the duckweed and watermeal.
click image to view 4 more

Waterlogged Plants

Central Illinois continues to receive excessive spring rains, which have resulted in waterlogged soils and flooding. Rhonda Ferree, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, says "It is important to understand what is happening to plants growing in these conditions and what to expect later." Rhonda describes this as "a wait-and-see situation." Many herbaceous plants are experienci...

Read More >

Tomato on right and tomatillo on left on 7-13-12. Notice leaves go all the way to the ground on this tomato. I rotated it to a new location this year. Last year's tomatoes had lots of foliar leaf blight.

Do I Need to Prune My Tomatoes?

I recently overheard a conversation while shopping for plants. The shoppers were discussing whether or not to prune their tomatoes. Pruning tomatoes can help some types produce more fruit. University of Illinois Extension educator Maurice Ogutu explains why below. "Tomatoes are divided into two different types namely determinate and indeterminate varieties based on their growth habits."...

Read More >

lead in soils fs

Food Garden Safety Begins with a Lead Test Soil

The garden season is in full force, and I'm excited to hear about all the food and community gardens happening in our area. As we begin growing food and other plants this summer, please consider some potential health hazards. A growing concern in urban soils is lead contamination, though suburban and rural soils may also be contaminated. I recently partnered with the Peoria City/County...

Read More >

floral arrangment Ferree

The Meaning of Flowers

Flowers are a great way to communicate your love and affection. Over the years, flowers have developed meaning and are known as a way to convey a special message. Flowers can represent everything from friendship to true love. Chrysanthemums show friendship. Gardenias represent secret love. Lilies are a traditional wedding flower and mean chastity, innocence, and purity. Give a primrose...

Read More >

tomato grown in a container

Dwarf Tomatoes Save Space

This year I am planting a dwarf, determinate tomato in my herb garden. It will take less space and produce as much fruit as I need. And, this makes more room for herbs! Tomatoes are divided into two different types based on their growth habits: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate varieties set fruit at the ends of their branches on terminal buds. Once buds are set they stop growi...

Read More >

Fairy Garden at Danville Gardens

2017 Garden Center Trek reveals Fairies, Succulents, and Butterflies

I enjoy shopping for plants each spring. In addition to our usual local spots, my husband and I like to visit new garden centers each year. This year's garden shopping trek included Jacksonville, Springfield, Champaign, Danville, and Ottawa. At each location, I pay particular attention to new plants and garden trends. This year's trends were obviously fairies, succulents, and butterflies....

Read More >