Plant Information

Plant Information

Gardening Tips and Techniques

Using your fall leaves to help the environment

When you think of autumn, chances are the lovely fall colors come to mind—and not the leaves that end up on your lawn or in your garden beds. Here are some ways you can use your leaves to support your plants and wildlife instead of bagging the leaves up and leaving them for collection:

Help pollinators survive the winter


What is a weed? Essentially, it’s a plant that’s growing where you don’t want it to be. Weeds are opportunistic, springing up where there’s a void in the landscape, where the soil has been disturbed, or where birds and mammals have eliminated the seeds of the fruits they’ve eaten.

Raised Beds

Gardeners with heavy, clay, or even tainted soil might consider constructing a raised bed outlined with durable, untreated lumber. The boxed bed is then filled with a perfect, lightweight mix of topsoil, compost, and leaf mold. Other small-space gardeners who choose containers to grow their veggies and herbs can use this same mix for their pots. Any gardener who suspects the soil is contaminated should have a soil test taken prior to growing edible plants. This is best done when the soil temperature is above 50 degrees.

Repotting Orchids


A Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, is called the “gateway orchid” for beginning collectors: it requires very little care, and yields great rewards with blooms that last up to three months! Early success with a moth orchid leads growers to try other species and, finally, to orchid addiction. But how do you ensure early success?

Our first video details step-by-step instructions for repotting a Phalaeanopsis orchid.

Fall Garden Chores

Right about now, some gardeners are thinking about putting their gardens to bed and stowing the trowels and pruners. Before you do that, think about popping a few fresh plants into your containers to take your garden’s display into fall. Garden centers are awash with pumpkins, mums, pansies, decorative stems, and kale in celebration of autumn. Take a stroll through one of our 27 beautiful display gardens for inspiration and ideas. Here are some things to do now before your garden winds down.

Anatomy of a Spring Planter

A senior horticulturist shares his colorful secrets

Smart gardeners are always on the lookout for great container plans. Senior horticulturist Tom Soulsby put together a sunny, happy mix that would work for many a porch pot or deck display.

Why did he choose these particular plants? Soulsby shares tips on plant selection and working within a container’s constraints.

Ash Tree Alternatives

Ash Tree Alternatives

Looking for a replacement for an ailing ash tree? Dr. Andrew C. Bell, curator of woody plants, offers these suggestions. The first three selections are Chicagoland Grows® introductions. Use the new GardenGuide app (available at to locate these trees within the Garden and to learn more about them.


Winter Pruning

The Rantings & Ravings of a Pruning Freak

“When’s the best time to prune?”

It doesn’t matter what season you’re in because there’s always something that can be pruned. You just have to know the plant, its growth characteristics, its best time for pruning, and what your intentions are for that plant as it plays into the whole of your garden design.

“Well, I don’t have a design. I just plant stuff. If it lives, great. If not, then what?”

Small-Space Gardening

Here, Garden experts offer some suggestions for the small garden, whether an urban backyard or a rooftop, a border around a townhouse patio, or plant-filled pots on a balcony or deck.

Planting a Glass Jar Terrarium

Tim Pollak, outdoor floriculturist here at the Chicago Botanic Garden, recently taught a fun class, a glass jar terrarium workshop, with the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden. I went down to the production greenhouse that morning to learn how to plant a terrarium so I could share some tips with you. Follow the steps below to make your own! Need a little more direction? In the video below, we build a terrarium and give a few extra tips for success.