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Hortanswers website provides information about plant pests, diseases, and performance in the USDA's hardiness zones 4, 5, and 6


Urbana, Illinois
January 4, 2008

A new website that allows home gardeners and professional horticulturists to gain information about plant pests, diseases, and performance in the USDA's hardiness zones 4, 5, and 6 has been launched by University of Illinois Extension.

"Hortanswers" is designed to provide basic information about the disease and pest problems of plants plus determine the right plant for the right place in the garden, said Greg Stack, U of I Extension horticulture educator and one of the designers of the website.

Originally conceived by former U of I Extension specialist Bruce Pallsrud, the website was developed by Jane Scherer, U of I Extension urban program/web coordination specialist, along with Stack and fellow Extension horticulture educators James Schuster, Maurice Ogutu, and Sharon Yiesla.

"Because of its complexity, it took several years to develop," said Stack. "The result is an extremely valuable site."

Users may access the information they seek by a variety of routes. One approach is to search plant and the categories include annuals, groundcover, ornamental grass, perennials, roses, shrubs, small fruits, trees, tree fruits, turf, vegetables, and vines.

If a particular problem is affecting your garden, try the search by problem feature and initiate a search by the problem or pest or by the plant affected, with categories for common and scientific names.

Searching by perennials, for example, produces a page that gives criteria for these plants in hardiness zones 4, 5, and 6. Pictures of the plants are included along with information on the various plants plus problems they may encounter. And, there are also photos of the problems that affect the particular plant.

"The website allows users to proceed through as much information as they desire and gain insights and tips about how various plants will look and perform in their garden," said Stack.

He also noted that the new website is unique.

"There are hundreds of websites that have bits and pieces of information on home horticulture," he said. "Sometimes these are geared toward selling a particular plant or product and the information is biased. Others are educational to the point of not providing practical information that the home gardener or horticulture professional can easily use. There is simply no single resource for reliable, unbiased information.

"While the site is not all-inclusive or exhaustive, it provides good, basic information to guide home gardeners in selecting plant material and alerting them to some of the problems they may encounter."





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