Plants

I garden in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6a and 5a.

  • According to the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map (http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/#)
    • Chicago Illinois is Zone 6a (average annual extreme minimum temperature 1976 to 2005 was -10 to -5 Fahrenheit or -23.3 to -20.6 Celsius)White Flower near Christian Cross
    • Zone 5a (average annual extreme minimum temperature 1976 to 2005 was -20 to -15 Fahrenheit or -28.9 to -26.1 Celsius)

Blueberry Bushes

Blueberries contain antioxidants and resveratrol and are great additions to muffins, pies, pancakes and jams. In the fall the dark green foliage of blueberry bushes turn red.  Blueberries prefer acidic soil with a pH level between 3.4 and 6.5 and perform best between 4.5 and 5.5. Peat moss can decrease soil pH levels. Frequent watering benefits blueberries especially during fruit development. Cross pollination (having two different varieties next to each other) benefits blueberries producing larger plants and higher yields at harvest. It is good to plant blueberries with compost and mulch and the root ball slightly above (2″) the soil.

  • Northland Blueberry (vaccinium corymbosum x v. angustifolium)
    • very cold weather hardy, can survive in zone 3 temperatures of -40 to -30°F (-40 to -34°C)
    • ripen early to mid season
    • sun to partial shade
    • grows 3-4′ tall
    • medium sized and sweet blueberries
      • info per plant tag from Home Depot, vigoro brand, vigoro.com
  • Bluecrop Blueberry
    • large, sweet berries
    • zone 3 compatible
    • harvest in July and August
    • grows 3-4′
      • info per tage from Home Depot, Windmill brand
  • Jubilee Blueberry

House Plants

  • OurHousePlants.com is a nice blog and I have found it very helpful.
  • purchased a SuperPole (TM) moss stick from SuperMoss.com
  • sanseveria
    • popular house plant , air purifying qualities, low maintenace
    • other names: snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue
    • have had one since September 2015
  • cast iron plant
    • native to Japan and Taiwan
    • can handle up to -5 Fahrenheit
    • drought resistant and hardy houseplant, can handle nearly all types of light
    • have had one since November 2015
  • poinsettia
    • purchased one in December 2015
    • water when the surface is dry for January to March
  • gardenia – evergreen shrubs and small trees
  • azalea
  • pothos or devil’s ivy
  • aloe vera

Garden Flowers

  •  Milkweed
    • a favorite of the monarch butterfly, LiveMonarch.com is an informative site on milkweed and you can donate seeds to them if able, asclepias syriaca (also known as common milkweed) survives winters and is a prolific seed producer, seeds germinate in 10 to 30 days
  • Lavender
    • native to the Mediterranean
  • Hyacinth
    • planted a blue hyacinth (hyacinthus orientalis) in April 2016, as it was an Easter dinner centerpiece, not sure it will survive the winter here as it can withstand -20°F (-29°C), sun to part shade, does have a strong and beautiful fragrance, blooms in early spring, should fertilize every month, prefers fertile well-drained evenly moist soil, tag by MasterTag, Montague MI, Andy Mast Greenhouses
  • Columbine
    • planted some swan violet and white columbines (aquilegia caerulea) in early Spring 2016 near the bees as saw it was an early blooming perennial and on sale at the local Home Depot, supposedly deer resistant(label notes deer resistant is not deer proof), blooms late spring to summer bloomer, medium height, part sun, can remove spent blooms, size 20-24″ t x 12-16″ w, clumping habit, hardiness of -40°F, when planting loosenly plants root base, dig hole twice as wide and as deep as the pot, ornamental – not for human or animal consumption

Edible Plants & Vegetables

  • Sunflowers
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Pumpkins
  • basil
  • parsley

Forest Botanicals

Woodland medicinals require shade.

  • Ginseng
  • Goldenseal – goldensealsanctuary.org, non-profit United Plant Savers
  • stinging nettle
  • mushrooms

Noxious/Exotic Invasive Species

  • Multifora rose – must be controlled for oak component to regenerate in the future, an aggressive population of multi-flora rose often found in native Illinois forests is a sign of present and or past domestic livestock grazing, continuous annual surveillance necessary to keep the population under control
  • poison ivy
  • bush honeysuckle – major threat to native Illinois forests native plant diversity, often achieves a physical size of 6 to 12 feet in height with multiple stem diameters approaching two inches, must be controlled for oak component to regenerate in the future
  • common gooseberry
  • several viburnums
  • osage orange
  • box-elder

Wildlife

  • deer
  • American bald eagles
  • owls
  • cats
  • turkeys
  • squirrels
  • endangered Indiana bat – utilize trees with exfoliating and loose bark found along forest edges and openings, do not cut any shagbark hickory or dead trees with the bark still attached along forest edges and openings
  • gray bat –  utilize trees with exfoliating and loose bark found along forest edges and openings, do not cut any shagbark hickory or dead trees with the bark still attached along forest edges and openings

Trees

A healthy and fully stocked native upland hardwood forest in northern Illinois will support a basal area within the parameters of 60 to 120 square feet per acre before excessive compeition negatively affects forest health. The forest consists of three age classes. The dominant tree population is aged at 100/150 years, while the co-dominant and suppressed populations of other hardwood species is 20 to 50 years. There is a dense sapling population aged at five to ten years. The average site index (height of trees in ft at 50 years of age) is 75, with a productivity rate of at least 85 board feet per acre. There are naturally occuring disturbances such as insect and disease invasion and tree mortality caused by abnormal climatic and weather conditions.

  • apple tree
  • silver maple – neighbor has been allowing me to tap her three silver maples in her backyard, see sugaring section under gardening
  • white oak – excellent acorn crops for wildlife
  • american elm – will die over the next 20 years due to Dutch Elm disease, leads to a release of sapling size population
  • bitternut hickory
  • black cherry
  • black oak
  • black walnut – Hammons Products in Stockton, Missouri, largest buyer and processor of black walnuts, are improved black walnut cultivars which are more productive than the natural trees, Hammons offers a nut wizard you can buy to help collect black walnuts
  • shagbark hickory
  • hackberry
  • red oak
  • eastern red-cedar
  • white mulberry
  • ironwood