Mid-American Gardener

January 2024 Episodes


We’re in the studio this week with Ella and Shane, and they have a lot to share this week to keep you busy, even during these cold days!


First up, Ella shares some of her favorite evergreen groundcovers. She does note that none of these are native to Illinois, so they sometimes require some maintenance to keep them from spreading to flower beds where you don’t want it growing. 

  • Ajuga 
  • vinca/periwinkle
  • English ivy
  • Japanese Pachysandra 
  • Epimedium
  • Hellebore

All of these will add some winter interest to your garden with zero maintenance. 


Shane reminds us to take advantage of warmer days in the winter to get ahead of what you might need to tackle in the spring. When doing winter maintenance in your yard, you need to ask yourself: 

  1. What am I accomplishing?
  2. How am I going to affect the flowering?
  3. How am I going to affect the shape?
  4. How am I going to affect the health of the plant?

Shane assures us that any pruning you do now won’t harm the plant, since everything is dormant, but you might affect the flowering in the spring. Anything you trim will take off flowers in the spring, so Shane recommends letting your plants bloom in the spring and then give it a hard trim. 


Evergreens can be an issue when they become too large. The best time to trim evergreens is after they put out new growth; however, if you let an evergreen bush get too big, it becomes impossible to trim it back without having bare spots or replacing the plant. 


Many viewers write in each year asking why their hydrangeas aren’t blooming. There are several different types of hydrangeas. Some hydrangeas only bloom on old wood, not new wood. If you cut these back to the ground, and there’s only new wood next year, they will never bloom. So, in pruning your bushes, you might be stunting the flowering of the hydrangeas. 


There are two main types of hydrangeas: arborescens and macrophylla. If your hydrangea has a round flower, it could be either kind. If it has a white flower, it is almost always the arborescens, so it blooms only on new wood. You can trim it anytime, and it will grow new flowers next year. Another thing to note is that hydrangeas with round flowers like part shade, while hydrangeas with cone shaped flowers need more sun.


If you’re looking for some winter interest in your yard, consider planting Helleborus niger or “christmas rose.” Ella says hers blooms each Christmas if we don’t have too many cold snaps and the flowers last for quite a while. 


Are you looking for an interesting winter read? Ella recommends the book, How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things that Plants Do by Linda Schalker-Scott. She found it to be a fascinating book and even went out to her yard to investigate some of the things she discovered in reading the book! Let us know what you discover if you give it a read!


If you’ve got any questions for our panelists, please send us an email at yourgarden@gmail.com com, or you can find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Epsisode 1323 - January 25, 2024

Air Dates and Times

Channel Day Time
WILL-TV, Urbana Thursday 7 pm (live)
  Saturday 11 am (repeat)
WTVP-TV, Peoria Saturday 11:30 am
WEIU-TV, Charleston Sunday 1:30 pm
WSEC-TV, Springfield Saturday 11 am
WQEC-TV, Quincy Saturday 11 am
WMEC-TV, Macomb Saturday 11 am
Lakeshore PBS, Chicago/Northwest Indiana Friday 1 pm

Featured Entry

Spring has sprung!

There's finally things to do outside, as the Mid-American Gardener crew prep their gardens for the season!