Sandra Mason: Worm watch

Worms are a good thing. Right? Well, it all depends. As gardeners, we think of earthworms as happily improving our soil with their aerating tunnels and highly fertile poop. Red wrigglers devour our kitchen leftovers to make rich compost. But a new worm on the horizon can leave parched earth in its path.

Sandra Mason: Yuccas aren't yucky

On many occasion, my mere mention of yucca plants elicits a melodramatic repetition of the name, as in "Yuck-ugh."

OK, I admit the green-leafed yucca is occasionally listed as a garden bully. Its propensity to grow too well and produce many side shoots to double its size every year certainly relegates it to garden thuggery status.

Herb Day going out on high note

URBANA — A high baritone, Chuck Voigt always has opened University of Illinois Herb Day by singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning."

At the 2016 Herb Day today at the Wyndham Garden Inn in Urbana, he will belt out even more songs.

Sandra Mason: A fall beauty

My fellow University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Martha Smith shares her thoughts about Honorine Jobert: "This white-flowering lady comes with a long history of gracing fall landscapes since having been discovered in the garden of M. Jobert in Verdum, France in 1858," Smith said.

Coffee with the Plant Experts 1-16-16

Coffee with the Plant Experts 1-16-16: Play now!

Todays edition of Coffee with the Plant Experts, our green thumb guru's.


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Sandra Mason: Add tropical flair to your home

Gardeners are plagued with zonal envy. Whatever grows in warmer zones, we want it. For centuries, citrus trees, with their accompanying orbs of juicy joy, top the wish list.

Sandra Mason: Elegant orchids

Besides a Mother's Day corsage or Tarzan's jungle gift to Jane, most of us have limited experience with orchids. Orchids are an amazingly diverse plant family growing in deserts, mountains, marshes, northern woods, Illinois forests and even your home as exotic, elegant houseplants.

Sandra Mason: Lots of wet feet

Wet feet. The cherished sensation of water lapping over our toes as we stroll along a sun-saturated beach or wade in a dog-cooling stream on a sizzling August day.

Sandra Mason: Unwanted guests

Guests come and go during the holidays. However, Mickey, Minnie or Mighty may have decided to stay, since your home, garage or even your car is the perfect place to raise a family.

Mice can quickly become unwanted guests. In a year, one female mouse can have five to 10 litters with five to six little ones in each litter.

Sandra Mason: Caring for holiday cacti

For years, I have heard the frantic calls of Christmas cactus caretakers. Nobody wants to be the descendant that killed Grandma's Christmas cacti. My suggestion — give lots of stem cuttings to your relatives. It's always best to spread the pressure around.