Blog

  1. Plants or Fence? You Decide

    Arborvitae make an excellent backdrop for your perennial or shrub border and at the same time eliminate the neighbor next to you. Natural, unpruned plants are maintenance-free and offer cover for wildlife year-round. Much better than a fence, don’t you think? NO painting, no maintenance, and a friendly way to eliminate a neighbor’s camper or messy yard that you can both enjoy (maybe even split the cost??). Watch them get better each year. Arborvitae available today can be found by clicking here.

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  2. Why Buy From Nature Hills?

    Nature Hills Nursery’s main office is in Nebraska, but did you know that we have contracted with over 16 of the best growers across the country?  Most other online plant stores ship from one location, and all the plants get shipped to that location.

    As Nature Hills has expanded each year, we have added classic lines of plants from growing regions that do that plant palate well.  When it comes time for you to receive that plant, it arrives directly from our grower who knows best how to grow that plant.  Not everyone can grow everything in one location under one set of growing conditions.  This is the reason we reach out to other areas across the country.

    Nature Hills saw a need to put some of the challenges of growing these different crops of plants in the hands of the growers that know best how to produce them.

    Rather than having the many kinds of plants shipped across the country to one big shipping yard like the other online e-commerce nursery companies do, we let our professional growers who are growing, trimming, fertilizing and watering the plant ship their product to your door.

    Why do we ship from different locations?  Simple – it lets us offer the widest variety of plants to the greatest area, without sacrificing our quality.  Imagine trying to hold southern plants and northern plants in the same location as other online e-commerce companies do.  No wonder there is disappointment with the finished product shipped from our competition.  We follow strict guidelines regarding quality and only work with growers who meet and exceed our standards.  When we say “from the fields to your door”, we mean it … literally!

    As Nature Hills continues to expand, we are broadening our offering with the new series of plants, new dwarf selections, new fruit and berry selections, new re-blooming shrubs, and longer blooming shrubs.  We are always bringing on the newest perennials, newest roses and new trees too.  We continue to grow the plants that are tried and true and the ones that receive the most positive feedback.  Our growers keep us updated on the newest plant material available so that in turn we can offer them to you!

    This is what sets us apart from other online nurseries - premier growers who are bringing new plants to market, growing and caring for them, and shipping them directly to your home.

    Our team has also engineered the best method of boxing plants to prevent them from becoming damaged during the short time they ship to you.

    Nature Hills is able to offer various sized plants, many that are nice sized landscape quality sure to please.  The days of the old “mail order” companies shipping many very small plants in the same box (the size of a shoebox) are long gone.  E-commerce purchases from Nature Hills brings a new level of quality and size to our customers who prefer shopping from the comfort of their own homes 24 hours a day.  

    Working with leading growers keeps us current with the nursery industry trends, keeps us compliant with invasives and other plant issues that arise across the country.  We have three top horticulturists on staff to assist us and you with everything from tropical plants, annuals, perennials, vines, evergreens, fruit trees and small fruits, citrus trees, and shade and ornamental trees that work in 48 states.  Our full-time, on staff compliance officer insures that we are on the front end of doing things right.

    We are constantly tweaking our plant offerings, making sure our plant descriptions and pictures are accurate.  Care and growing tips are detailed and user friendly.

    We are America’s largest online plant nursery.

     

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  3. Do Deer Resistant Plants Exist?

    Is there such a thing as plants that deer will not eat? Not really, but there are plants that deer prefer not to eat – if given a choice.

    Let’s say you live in an area with lots of deer and you want to add some new plants from Nature Hills to your landscape. To start, choose some plants that deer do not prefer. On the day you plant them - before the end of the  very first day - spray on some deer repellent.

    Why spray the first day? Deer will move through an area and if there is a plant that was not there previously, they will sample it just to see if they like it. 

    If you have sprayed the leaves and stems of that new plant that makes it taste bad, deer will move onto something they like better. Re-apply as needed every few weeks. Fencing is another option.

    Homemade deer repellent spray

    • ½ gallon water
    • 2 raw eggs
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • 2 crushed garlic cloves
    • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

    Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth (may need to do in 2 batches). Strain through mesh screen and put in spray bottle. Apply to the leaves and stems of your new plants. Store in fridge.

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  4. Flowering Shrubs to Punch Up Your Landscape

    Maybe it has been a while since you went shopping for some new flowering shrubs. Maybe the last time you looked for any new flowering shrubs was at one of the big box stores that seem to roll out the same old plants from the same old growers year after year.

    Now is a great time to browse Nature Hills Nursery for some of our great, new, dwarf and reblooming shrubs from the comfort of your own home!

    Perhaps it’s time to cut out those old, tired, overgrown shrubs and revive your landscape. There is no reason you must be stuck looking at old overgrown shrubs for another year when you can easily transform your landscape with some of these incredible new and reblooming plants. These new options offer color for extended periods, and many are much smaller growing - reducing the need for pruning as they age in your landscape.

    Here are a few “gotta have” new shrubs that you may not have been exposed to before.

    New, smaller growing and re-blooming or extended blooming Hydrangeas are the ticket! Wee White and Limetta re-bloomers offer lime green blooms that mature to classic white before drying and remining on the plant for winter interest. Fire Light, Little Lime, Little Quick Fire, Diamond Rouge, and Bobo are all super hardy, start out white, and age to pinks (some to reds) before drying and remining on the plant for the winter. The Cityline Hydrangea is a whole series offering dwarf selections that don’t need pruning and have pink, blue, red, fuchsia, and purple colors. The Everlasting series is also dwarf, and the blooms transform themselves through white, pinks, blue, purples, and greens. How about our new favorite Cherry Explosion, which offers amazing red flowers that cover the plant? Try and find some of these at a big box store.

    The new re-blooming Azaleas are absolutely incredible in the spring, summer and again in the fall. What more could you want? Check out the Bloom-A-Thon Series offering pink, purple, red, white and lavender. And let’s not forget the new dwarf Encore Azalea Series with over 30 color options, including pinks, white, reds, oranges, salmon, purples and various shades of these colors. Our availability of the series changes as they are hard to keep in stock.

    Nandina Firepower has become the hot, new, red shrub that stays small and is as winner.

    Let’s not forget the months-long color from The Black Diamond series of Crape Myrtle, which offers a rainbow of colors for the more southern states. The flowers come in white, pink, purple, and red, and they have amazing deep purple colored foliage as a backdrop. These are big shrubs for screening and massive color displays that last and last. You may not be able to grow Lilacs in the south, but you are lucky to have Crape Myrtles that offer color for a much longer period of time.

    Butterfly Bushes love the heat and sun, are dwarf, and have tremendous color summer into fall - and many of the new ones produce no seed. A simple no-brainer to grow for sure. Many purples, pinks and whites dominate this group and are the flowers are huge magnets for pollinators. Simply cut these down each spring and sit back and watch them pop into action for summer and fall color.

    Weigela shrubs have had the interest of plant breeders and the new selections bloom with a heavy bomb of flowers in June, as well as a recurrent bloom later in summer into fall.  Check out our vast assortment in white, pink, purple, red, and even yellow. The new selections have deep purple foliage as a great backdrop to the flower color. New selections are much smaller. 

    You want more?

    How about the showiest woody shrub for summer into fall? Rose of Sharon is a woody Hibiscus that has the interest of the breeders for double flowers and being sterile plants. The flowers resemble carnations on a larger shrub. Amazing blue, purples, pinks, white, and bicolor plants are showy and hardy. 

    Lilacs galore! Nature Hills has some beautiful, colorful and fragrant shrubs in many sizes for those of you who can’t plant Crape Myrtles in the north. Lilacs rock and come in blue, lavender, pink, purples of many shades, white, and even a pale yellow.

    Check out everything that we have to offer. Punch in your zip code to find out which hardiness zone you are in so you know which plants will work for your home.

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  5. The Methley Plum, One of Nature's Best

    In the world of Plums, there are hundreds if not thousands of varieties worldwide that are available for the home gardener. All have their own distinct characteristics - but none so distinguished as the Methley Plum. This variety has it all; it is widely adapted throughout the U.S. from zone 4 to 9, offers heavy production on a naturally small tree with medium to large rich flavored red-fleshed fruit and is self-fruitful!

    The Methley plum actually has a very interesting history in that it is believed to be a Hybrid between an American Plum variety (Prunus cerasifera) and the Japanese Plum (Prunus salicina). This happened unintentionally as a select seedling in South Africa around the turn of the 20th century.

    How it found its way back to the States is anyone’s guess, but the impact that Methley has had on plum growing in the United States is undeniable.

    Like other Japanese x American hybrid Plums, the Methley is adapted to a wide range of climates and weather conditions. It is reported to grow well in zone 4-5 throughout the east coast and upper midwest, 5 to 7 throughout the midwest and along the coastal regions of zones 8-9. It is adapted to the extreme cold, moist coastal regions and produces well in regions with less than 250 hours of chill. The Methley Plum has proven to be one of nature’s best plum creations.

    Along with being a highly adaptable variety, the Methley’s growth habit make it a first choice for the home gardener. A naturally low-growing tree with a wide spreading canopy makes size control of the Methley a breeze. Keeping the tree to a height below 10 feet requires very simple pruning - mostly to keep the canopy open for good air circulation and light penetration along with keeping the width in check.

    The spring bloom is also a real treat as the Methley is a profuse bloomer with fragrant blossoms. This adds to the plant's value in the landscape when used as a medium size accent plant. Plant the tree along with other early blossoming varieties like Santa Rosa and Shiro to improve production on all.

    The dependable harvest of delicious red/purple skinned fruit with dark red flesh is an absolute treat. Methley is tops for fresh eating with a unique and rich sweet plum flavor. Methley Plum is also renowned for wonderful jellies and preserves created with its wonderful fruit. With the abundant fruit set that the Methley produces, there will be plenty fruit to work with.

    In this world of hybrids and new and improved, here is a variety that nature took total control of and produced one of the best all-round fruits for us to enjoy; the Methley Plum.

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  6. How to Prune Hydrangeas

    It is important to know what kind of Hydrangea you have before you do any pruning. The reason it is important to know so that you are not cutting off any flower buds, really the reason for growing Hydrangeas!

    It is probably easiest to break down the types of Hydrangeas and suggest pruning for each of the different types. Each group of Hydrangea includes some of the selections available from Nature Hills. 

    Hardy, Panicle type Hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata selections)

    These are woody type, hardy Hydrangeas that love the sun and are very forgiving needing little care.  You can’t change the color of this group to blue, but they offer quite the show opening white, and age to pink or red before turning brown in fall and winter.

    Pruning for Hydrangea paniculata shrub form and tree form should be done in early spring before new growth begins to grow. The best pruning method is to shorten up the length of last year’s stems by about 1/3 (which will remove the old dried flower from last year too). Leave the pruned shrub as an informal, irregular and somewhat rounded form. The same thing for the Tree Form plants too leaving a rounded outline on the stick. No more pruning is needed after the early spring prune. A simple, easy and certainly rewarding group of Hydrangeas that every landscape should include. 

    Some of the selections of Hydrangea paniculata selections include:  Fire Light, Fire and Ice, Diamond Rouge, Quick Fire, Little Lamb, Phantom, Vanilla Strawberry, Pinky Winky, Limelight, Strawberry Sundae, Little Quick Fire, Bobo, Little Lime, Silver Dollar, and Zinfin Doll.  

    Oakleaf Hydrangeas

    These woody Hydrangeas produce flower buds on last year’s stems so DO NOT SPRING PRUNE THIS GROUP!  Oakleaf Hydrangeas will not flower if you spring prune the tips of the branches.  Light pruning to shorten branches as soon as they are done blooming can be done.  You can also remove the largest, fattest branches right down to the ground to allow new shoots to grow from the ground keeping the plant blooming wildly on those new shoots. Here are some selections that Nature Hills grows:  Gatsby Gal, Gatsby Pink, and Ellen Huff.

    Smooth Hydrangeas

    Smooth Hydrangeas, or Hydrangea arborescens type are super hardy and easy to care for.  You should prune these Hydrangeas by cutting all of the stems right down to the ground early spring each year before they start to grow.  Smooth Hydrangeas make incredible new flowers on shoots that come from the ground each year.  Some gardeners like to leave a foot or so of last years stems to help support the new shoots as they begin to grow but that is up to you.  Super easy, non-invasive shrubs that you simply cut off each spring and sit back and enjoy the show.  Many of the newer selections are reblooming.

    Here are some selections of Hydrangea arborescens that Nature Hills grows and sells:  Annabelle, Invincibelle Spirit and all the Invincibelle Spirit series, Incrediball, Smooth or Snowhill (H. arborescens ‘Grandiflora’), Ryan Gainey, Invincibelle Wee White, Invincibelle Ruby, Samantha, Incrediball Blush, and Invincibelle Limetta.

    Bigleaf Hydrangea

    Bigleaf Hydrangeas are the ones that mostly have pink and blue or lavender colored blooms.  Many of the selections in this huge group of Hydrangeas bloom on last years stems so DO NOT PRUNE IN FALL, WINTER OR SPRING, just wait until they bloom.  Pruning for Bigleaf Hydrangeas is best done right after they bloom.  In colder areas, there may be some winter damage so wait until the plants just start to grow and remove the dead tips and the old flower heads and let the live portion of the stems in place.

    Here is a list of Hydrangea macrophylla types (including Hydrangea serrata selections that are treated the same) in which you can change the flower color in acid soils:  Endless summer, Grateful Red, Big Daddy, Twist and Shout, Blushing Bride, Grateful Red, Cherry Explosion, Edgy Hearts, Nantucket Blue, Next Generation Pistachio, Nikko Blue, Endless Summer Bloomstruck, Edgy Hearts, Cityline Vienna, Tilt-A-Swirl, Cityline Mars, Tuff Stuff, Tiny Tuff Stuff, Tuff Stuff Red Mountain, Tilt-A-Swirl, Let’s Dance Starlight, Everlasting Garnet, Everlasting Noblesse, Everlasting Revolution, Everlasting Jade, Wedding Gown, Let's Dance Starlight & Moonlight, Tuff Stuff Mountain, Tuff Stuff Red Mountain, Abracadabra, LA Dreamin, Cityline Paris, Vienna, Venice & Rio, Everlasting Jade, Everlasting Garnet, Everlasting Ocean, Abracadabra Star, Everlasting Harmony, and Miss Saori. 

    Nature Hills selections of Hydrangeas continues to evolve always adding new selections with more flowers, smaller plants, and reblooming capabilities – all the things that keep bringing Hydrangeas into the limelight. Check out our selections and buy yours now so you too can upgrade your landscape! 

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  7. How to Prune Hydrangea Paniculata Tree Form

    Nature Hills sells several different single stem tree form Hydrangea paniculata types. They are all hardy and easy to grow, but each spring it is best if you spend ten minutes pruning them before they start to grow.

    It is best to remove about 1/3 of the length of each of the stems leaving a somewhat irregular “ball on a stick.” Pruning should be done before the new growth starts each spring.

    The photo shows a young plant that is only a couple of years in the ground and how it should look once you are done pruning it.

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  8. Pruning Woody Hydrangea Paniculata Type Shrubs

    Now is the time to prune your woody, sun-loving panicle type Hydrangeas (like Limelight, Quickfire, Diamond Rouge Little Lamb, Pinky Winky, Fire Light, Little Lime, Strawberry Sundae, Vanilla Strawberry and any other species in this group).

    The best rule of thumb is to cut back these woody plants by reducing about 1/3 of the length of last year’s growth, removing the brown flower heads that remain on the plant. 

    Leave the overall shape somewhat rounded and the stems somewhat irregular for a more natural form as the new growth emerges.

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  9. Time to Trim Ornamental Grasses

    Ornamental grasses start to grow as the weather warms. 

    You have enjoyed the movement of the dormant tan and brown leaves all winter long, but now it is time to get rid of last year’s leaves as the new growth begins at the roots. You can tie the old leaves together and then take your shears and trim off the stems down to about six inches or so 

    Warm season grasses take much longer before you will see new growth, and cool season grasses will start showing signs of new blades of grass emerging as soon as the weather warms.

    Just like your lawn, early spring is a great time to cut off the old dry brown blades of grass to make room for all new green growth from the roots.

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  10. Early Spring Pruning Tips For Best Flowering

    Spring has sprung in the more southern areas and from the coasts, and will be working its way north.

    Upon your first spin around your yard in spring you will tend to take your pruning shears with you. There are many plants that will appreciate some necessary pruning, and there are some plants that you should not prune at this time of the year.

    Let’s cover some plants that are best NOT pruned in early spring. Basically, any early spring flowering shrub or tree should not be pruned because you will be removing the flower display – really the whole reason to grow those plants.

    Azaleas and Rhododendrons are a prime example of a plant that should not be pruned now. All of the flower buds are in the tips of each of the branches just waiting for the temperature to warm enough to get those buds moving. Many of the varieties and selections under the Rhododendron umbrella form the flower buds last summer where they remain dormant and hidden away until the spring temperatures allow this Genus of plants to bust out with incredible flower displays. Pruning is best done right after the flowers begin to fade. Many people don’t thing pruning Azaleas and Rhododendrons is necessary, but they do respond beautifully to pruning to maintain good uniformity and more compact plants. Even the reblooming and everblooming Rhododendrons are best pruned after the first spring bloom.

    Flowering Quince is another early spring blooming shrub that should not be pruned now. There are many new selections of Quince that have been introduced in the more recent years. Flowering Quince has beautiful orange, red, salmon, pink, white and many of the new ones are very double. With Quince too, the best time to prune all varieties is right after they flower so sit back and enjoy the flowers before you do any pruning on any of them too. 

    Forsythia is another shrub that is an early spring blooming shrub that can have flowers for almost a month before the leaves even emerge! There has been a lot of new selections that have been introduced that stay smaller and produce flowers all along the stems. Forsythia branches can be cut and forced indoors in a vase of water. As soon as the flowers fade, that is the best time to prune Forsythia. Maybe you have an older overgrown forsythia shrub? As soon as the flowers are done blooming you can cut all of the stem to the ground without sacrificing any bloom for next year too. If it is not that overgrown you can just remove the oldest stems out to the ground and leave the thinner, younger stems to allow the plant to keep its more natural form.

    Lilacs (both tree form and shrub form) is another broad group encompassing many different species, hybrids and cultivars. Nature Hills offers early blooming, mid-season, and even Canadian selections that bloom very late spring. With all Lilacs, do not trim them now. Lilac plants make their flowers in the growth that follows after the blooms are done. So, with each Lilac, wait until the flowers are done blooming - and then prune. With lilac shrubs, renewal pruning by removing the oldest stems out to the ground leaving the younger stems in place. For re-blooming varieties it is best to also renewal prune them right after the first set of flowers for super results.

    Weigela shrubs have had a lot of breeding done for smaller size, amazing leaf color and lots of bloom. Although Weigela are very floriferous, the best flowers are born on last year’s stems. It is important to let the late spring blooms come before you do pruning on them. After the flowers finish, then you can prune any stems that need shortening or some of the older stems can be removed right down to the ground. The beauty of most selections of Weigela is they bloom heavily in late spring, and again later in summer.

    It is best to make a note on the best time to prune some of your favorite flowering shrubs so that you are not sacrificing the blooms. Next time, we can tackle that huge number of Hydrangea types to help you see the best bloom.

    An early happy spring from your friends at Nature Hills!

     

     

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