Chicago Botanic Garden

Your Garden — Plant Information Service

Plant Information Services at the Garden

   Visit us on Facebook

Master Gardeners and Horticulture Specialists provide the following services to Garden visitors, Internet clients, and callers on the Plant Information Hotline at (847) 835-0972:

  • Recommendations on care of trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, vegetables, fruits, and houseplants
  • Diagnosis and treatment options for control of insects, diseases, and cultural disorders
  • General gardening information on soils, composting, pruning, mulching, and more
  • Plant and insect identification
  • Recommendations on plant selections for northern Illinois
  • Assistance with locating purchasing sources for particular plants

Contact us online with your:

General Questions

Plant/Pest Diagnosis Request

Plant Identification

Please be sure to read our guidelines for specimen collection and submission if you will be bringing in a sample for diagnosis. If you will be sending images through the online forms above, please send files in one of the requested formats.

Remember! Our diagnosis is only as good as your sample. Please follow our guidelines for collecting and submitting samples in order for us to provide you with accurate answers to your questions.

winter scorch

Honeysuckle leaf (Lonicera sp.) showing leaf miner damage

Question of the Month

Q. I've noticed that leaves of my plants look chewed. What is causing this and is there anything I can spray to help my plants?

A. At this time of year, many different types of insects and their larvae frequently feed on the leaves of plants. Without seeing the culprit, it is difficult to positively identify which insect is causing the damage to your plants. If insects aren't visible on the plants during the day, inspect them at night. Hand removal is the most environmentally sound method of dealing with insect problems. Applying chemicals without identifying the cause is problematic because gardeners run the risk of killing beneficial insects such as honey bees or caterpillars that might grow into desirable butterflies or moths. Most insecticides work by contact and will not be effective if the insect is not present.  Beneficial birds, spiders, and lacewing bugs feed on caterpillars.

Most caterpillars and other pupae are short term visitors. When most larvae pupate to the next stage of their life cycle, injury to the plants will cease and your plants will usually outgrow the damage. We encourage gardeners to adopt environmentally sound practices when dealing with insect problems, and determine your personal threshold for damage. 

Chemical treatments should always be considered a last option. Regular monitoring of plants is an important step to determine when and if chemical treatment may be needed. Unusually high populations of damaging insects that threaten the lives of plants may warrant treatment. When using chemical insecticides, it is important to apply when the least amount of beneficial insects are present. Please contact Plant Information Service for the most current chemical options recommended by the University of Illinois Extension. 

Please contact Plant Information Service at (847) 835-0972 for more information.