Garden Tips

Our Members write excellent garden tips each month, but they are not all on this page.
So, the best way to find if something has been written about your area of interest is to use the search feature at the upper right of this page.

The Benefits of Indoor Plants
by Kathleen Abdo, Plant Education

While we are spending the winter indoors, consider how our indoor air quality affects our health. Having stagnant air in our homes allows pollutants to buildup.  NASA studied ways to clean the air in space stations and found common house plants are very efficient in cleaning common toxins in air.  Indoor toxins include carbon dioxide, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and ammonia,  These toxins are given off by items around the house or space station.  Plants purify air by photosynthesis and microbes in the soil.  NASA calls plants “nature’s life support system."

Other studies have shown that people feel better having plants in their environment.  For example, green plants produce a positive attitude and lower blood pressure. One can say that plants make people smarter by helping them stay alert and reduce mental fatigue. A few beneficial plants to have around the house are Poinsettia, Spider Plant, Ficus, Garden Mum, Peace Lily, Boston Fern, Snake Plant, Bamboo Palm, and Aloe Vera.  While it’s dreary outside brighten your home and improve air quality with plants.

References for more information:

Common chemicals found indoors:

Indoor plant list – Here is a list of plants and pollutants that they remove, includes whether they are poisonous to pets:


By simply calling 811, or using E-request to enter your own locate request, you take the first step in the safe digging process.  JULIE, Inc. will notify its member utility companies who will send a locator to mark their underground facilities using paint and/or flags.  Once marked, you will know the approximate location of your utility lines and can dig safely. 
The call to JULIE and the service are free.

How to Make a Bee Bath
Source Experience Life Magazine - Plant Education


You’ll make a splash with local pollinators by placing this watering hole in your garden. As a gardener, someone who eats food, and an environmentalist, I’ve been following the news about the honeybee decline very closely.

These little creatures are under threat from the four “Ps”: parasites, pathogens, poor nutrition, and pesticide exposure. Honeybees are responsible for pollinating three-fourths of the foods we eat — like nuts, vegetables, herbs, and fruits. That amounts to about one in three mouthfuls of our diet!
Photograph by John Mowers

But honeybees are just one species being impacted. There are about 4,000 native bee species living in our cities, farms, and forests. Since honeybees don’t pollinate tomato or eggplant flowers and many native plants — such as blueberries and cranberries — these species play a pivotal role in pollination, too.

So while scientists are working to pinpoint the cause of colony collapse disorder and governments and nonprofits are taking steps to combat monarch butterfly and other wildlife habitat loss, there’s plenty you can do to help. You can buy organic food, stop using herbicides and pesticides in your yard, and place pollinator-friendly plants in your home landscape.

In addition to proper plant nutrition, bees and other beneficial insects — like butterflies, ladybugs, and predatory wasps — need fresh water to drink. Most can’t land in a bird bath, but creating an oasis for them is simple:

    1. Get a shallow dish — like a terracotta pot saucer.
    2. Collect some small rocks to add to it. These create islands for pollinators to land on while they drink.
    3. Place it at ground level in your garden wherever you see pollinators eating or where “problem plants” — like those that                 attract aphids — are growing.
    4. Fill daily with just enough fresh water that will evaporate by the end of the day.

 Finally, enjoy watching this new hive of activity. It’s sure to be the bee’s knees. 

The Illinois Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey program focuses on detecting exotic pests and making the public aware of the threats posed. These are several wonderful pdf posters that provide both pictures and descriptions of these pests so that you can identify them too.
The University of Illinois Extension

The University of Illinois Extension provides a real wealth of information about Illinois plants for Illinois gardeners. Visit their web site for great gardening tips and look at their program calendar [Lake County] for upcoming events.

Click here to see all the Newsletters from this year (SEARCHABLE) on our own web site).

Each week during the summer months, The U of I Extension produces a Home, Yard, and Garden Pest Newsletter. You can view all their great tips and current advice, or get on their mailing list, by simply going to

Home, Yard & Garden Newsletter is available on the Web.
Point your browser to:
Emerald Ash Borer Detection

Emerald ash borer adults are likely to emerge within the next week or two in Illinois. In previous years, adults have started emerging in Chenoa, IL around June 8. Adults would be likely to start emerging in Illinois north of I-80 around mid-June.

Emerald Ash Borer and Damage

Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis, is an exotic, invasive insect in North America that attacks and kills healthy ash trees. All ashes in the genus Fraxinus are attacked, including green, white, blue, and black ash.


Bagworm eggs are hatching in southern Illinois and will soon be hatching in central and northern Illinois. Due to the ballooning of young larvae, it is most effective to wait for a couple of weeks after egg hatch to apply larval control sprays.

Ryegrass -- the Unexpected Weed

Homeowners tend to be impatient. They want a green lawn and they want it done yesterday. There's no shortage of seed mixes on the market and marketing campaigns for that magazine perfect lawn. But the time you spend doing a little homework before you buy grass seed is certainly time well spent.

New University of Illinois Plant Clinic Web Site and Podcasts

The new University of Illinois Plant Clinic web site was recently launched. This web site will provide a history of the Plant Clinic, a list of services offered by the Plant Clinic, help with sample submission, easy access to plant data forms, directions to the Plant Clinic, and staff contact information.

Fireblight ... It's Back!

Fire blight is showing up across Illinois. We have been diagnosing it on Callery pear. But, fire blight can affect apples, pears, crabapples, and ornamental pears (yes, Callery pear). You might also see infection on other rosaceous hosts, such as cotoneaster, hawthorn, quince, firethorn, and mountain-ash.