For gardeners wondering what vegetable and fruit varieties grow best here, the University of Illinois’ “Hort Corner” has guide of recommended vegetables and fruits to grow in Illinois. Garden centers at hardware stores like Menards or Ace, or nurseries like Pesche’s and Knupper’s sell many of these varieties suited to Illinois.
Despite our cold spring, it should be safe to plant tomatoes and other warm-loving vegetables by Memorial Day weekend. Cold-loving plants like beets, brussels sprouts and cabbage can be started in early summer, but cold-sensitive pumpkins should be planted in late May to be ready for Halloween.
- Review vegetable planting tips at the Hort Corner’s vegetable gardening guide.
- “Hort Answers” can answer your questions about growing any vegetable.
- Learn more about growing fruit in Illinois at the Hort Corner Backyard Fruits guide.
- Check out the Vegetable Directory at the “Hort Corner”.
Here’s a sampling of varieties recommended for Northern Illinois:
Apples: Many varieties, including Golden Delcious, Johnathan, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Rome
Blackberries: Illini Hardy, Prime Jim
Blueberries: Bluecrop, Northland, Patriot (Blueberries love acidic soil and require much effort to grow in Northern Illinois’ more typically alkaline soil.)
Currants: Red Lake, Consort, White Imperial
Cherries: Rainer (sweet), Stella (sweet), Montmorencey (sour), North Star (sour)
Grapes: American types like Niagara, Concord, Reliance (seedless)
Gooseberries: Pixwell ,Hinnomaki Red, Captivato
Peaches: Reliance (cold-hardy)
Pears: Moonglow, Seckel
Plums: European types, like Damson and Yellow Egg
Raspberries: Heritage, Autumn Bliss, Goldie, Royalty, Jewel
Strawberries: Earliglow, Seneca, Jewel, Allstar. Ever-bearing is recommended for containers.
Beans: Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder
Broccoli: Green Comet, Green Goliath
Carrot: Thumbelina (for containers), Little Finger, Scarlet Nantes, Sweetness, Orlando Gold
Corn: Iochief, Jubilee, Silver Queen, Butter & Sugar
Cucumber: Burpless, Fanfare, Salad Bush, Bush Pickle (for containers)
Eggplant: Burpee Hybrid, Dusky, Ichiban (Japanese) Slim Jim, Easter Egg
Lettuce: Oak Leaf, Red Fire, Ruby, Cimmaron, Great Lakes, Iceberg
Peppers: Bell Boy, Lady Bell, Purple Bell, Sweet Banana, Jalapeno, Red Chili, Serrano
Potatoes Irish Cobbler, Viking, Red Pontiac, Kennebec, Yukon Gold.
Summer Squash: Aristocrat Zucchini, Black Zucchini, Gold Rush, Peter Pan (patty pan type)
Tomatoes: Early Girl, Better Boy, Fantastic, Beefmaster, Lemon Boy, Brandywine, Roma, San Marzano, Superweet 100, Yellow Pear
Patio Tomatoes: Tiny Tim, Yellow Canary, Patio Hybrid, Husky Red Hybrid, Small Fry
Pumpkins: New England Pie, Harvest Moon, Happy Jack, Rouge Vif d’Estampes, Casper, Jack-Be-little, Baby Boo
Watermelon: Sugar Baby, Crimson Sweet, Sunny’s Pride, Honey Heart (seedless), Jack of Hearts (seedless), Nova (seedless)
Winter Squash: Cream of the Crop (Acorn), Delicata, Stripetti, Early Butternut, Buttercup.