University of Illinois Extension

Issue 2 - Winter

Articles in this issue...

Hardy Houseplants for Brown Thumbs

Winter can be deadly for houseplants, not because we left them outside to perish, but because we brought them in, said Richard Hentschel, U of I Extension horticulturist.

Orchids: an Outstanding Indoor Plant

Indoor house plants don’t have to be limited to the standard foliage plant, says Candice Miller, University of Illinois horticulture educator. “Orchids, for example, are long-lasting flowering plants that make great houseplants.”

Floating Row Covers

While you are perusing seed catalogs for next summer’s garden, look into floating row covers, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. “Floating row covers are spun-bonded polyester or polypropylene blankets of very lightweight material,” said Nancy Pollard. “They allow varying amounts of sunlight, rain and air to penetrate, but not pesky insects. Floating row covers can protect tender plants from late season frost, allowing you to plant a little early without worrying so much about frost damage or loss.

White Barked Trees

Winter offers a great opportunity to see a tree’s bark, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. “Many trees offer spectacular bark,” said Rhonda Ferree. “Too often people overlook this part of a plant’s aesthetic qualities. But considering that most deciduous trees and shrubs are without leaves for many long winter months, we should consider using trees and shrubs with good bark character.”

2014 Perennial Plant of the Year

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ is the Perennial Plant Association’s 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year™. Panicum virgatum, pronounced PANic-um ver-GATE-um, carries the common name of switch grass or switchgrass, said a Martha Smith, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

Share Your Houseplants

“Houseplants make great gifts and are fun to share with family and friends. Many kinds of houseplants are easily propagated using a number of easy techniques,” said Rhonda Ferree, U of I horticulturist.

Interesting Facts about Poinsettias

No flower says Christmas like the beautiful poinsettia, said Ron Wolford, U of I Extension horticulturist. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. Many plants in the Euphorbiaceae family ooze a milky sap. Some people with latex allergies have had a skin reaction (most likely to the sap) after touching the leaves. For pets, the poinsettia sap may cause mild irritation or nausea. Probably best to keep pets away from the plant, especially puppies and kittens.