Platt’s Picks

Flowering Pear Tree

If you are feeding the birds, feed them “health food,” not junk food. In the winter, birds need more calories to stay healthy. Black oil sunflower seed is a great overall bird seed that is high in fat and protein. Plus, it is a favorite of cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, finches and grosbeaks. Buy black oil sunflower seed in bulk so you can sit back and enjoy watching the birds frolic when the snow flies. Chanticleer and Cleveland Select trees have an upright elongated pyramidal shape. Trinity and New Bradford Pears have a nicely rounded spherical habit.

Easter Lily

A beautiful symbol of the Easter season

Pansies the Perfect April Fools

Looking for a flower that can stand the cold? Pansies are a cold hardy annual that can be planted while there is still frost in early spring. Large single bloom flowers come in several different colors including yellow, purple, and blushed purple-blue.

Eastern Redbud

The Eastern Redbud is a small ornamental tree that offers four seasons of beauty. In spring its magenta-purple flowers light up the branches before the leaves unfurl. In summer its heart-shaped leaves shimmer in the breeze. In fall the redbud turns a rich yellow, and in winter its lacy gray bark stands out against the snow. A native tree to Illinois, redbuds grow to be 20 to 25 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet wide.

Blooming Forsythia

A forsythia plant can add dramatic flair to a yard in the early spring. Forsythia bushes are among the first plants of spring to burst forth in flower and in order to get the most from their brilliant yellow flowers, you need to make sure that you take proper care of forsythia in your yard. Keep reading to learn more about forsythia shrub care.

Basic Care of Forsythia While forsythia bushes are easy to care for, there are a few things you can do to help them perform their very best for you.

First for forsythia shrub care is that forsythias enjoy full sun. Make sure your forsythia bush gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. While it can tolerate less than this, your forsythia’s ability to flower will be reduced if it does not get full sun.

Next, forsythias need to be grown in well draining soil. Overly wet, marshy or swampy soil will not grow well. Also, the soil should be rich in organic matter. Mulching around your forsythia shrub will make sure that moisture is retained in the soil, weeds are kept down under the shrub and that new organic material has a chance to work its way into soil that the forsythia plant is growing in.

While forsythia bushes like well-draining soil, they also grow best of watered regularly. Forsythias should receive at least 2 inches of water a week. If enough rain does not fall to provide this amount of water, you can supplement with water from the hose. But, if you are worried about water conservation, forsythia plants can tolerate periods of decreased watering.

You should also fertilize when caring for forsythia. Use a balanced fertilizer once every two to three months in the spring and summer. Do not fertilize them in the fall and winter.

Good care of forsythia also requires that forsythia bushes should be pruned yearly. Without pruning, these fast growing shrubs can quickly get overgrown. The best time to prune forsythia shrubs is right after the forsythia has finished blooming.

The care for forsythia bushes is easy but necessary. With proper forsythia shrub care, your forsythia plant will reward you with a brilliant display of yellow flowers in the spring.

When to Water?

Q: How do I know when to water?

A: The simple answer is when Mother Nature doesn’t provide rain and/or when the ground is dry. The best way to determine ground moisture is to dig down 3” to 4” – if the soil is damp, you don’t need to water. Remember that plants in this climate are used to periods of heavy rain followed by periods of drying out.


Q: How much water should I apply?

A: The best rule is to thoroughly drench the root zone of the new plants. Heavy deep watering (interspersed with periods of drying out) will promote deep healthy roots. For all areas hand watering with a garden hose works best. For large areas that may be impractical to water by hand, we recommend soaker hoses. Light watering (i.e. sprinkling with small amounts of water) will lead to shallow roots that will suffer during drought. A thorough watering is like a 1”rain.


Q: Is it possible to over water?

A: Yes! Overwatering is defined as watering too frequently. It is essential that between watering that air be allowed to reenter the root zone (roots need oxygen to survive). Allowing the soil to dry out is also nature’s way of controlling “root rot” diseases which thrive in constantly wet or saturated soil conditions.

DO NOT WATER YOUR PLANTS EVERYDAY—the roots will drown!!

More new plants die from overwatering (watering too frequently) than die from drying out! 


Q: What should I do?

A: As a rule of thumb:

  • Plants need the most water immediately following planting
  • When it rains ½ inch or more that will replace one watering

Water thoroughly twice per week—for the first three months and then once per week for the rest of the year (usually safe to end in mid November). It is a good idea to water on the same days each week (i.e. Monday and Friday)