Monthly Archives: October 2017

  1. How Do You Select and Plant a Fruit Tree?

    Methley Plum Tree

    Wherever you live, the basic rules for selecting and planting a fruit trees are similar. First and foremost is selecting the right variety for where you live. Many varieties of fruit are widely adaptable like the Santa Rosa Plum. But the question is: will your favorite do well in your yard?

    Popular newer varieties like the Honeycrisp Apple or the Flavor King Pluot are the greatest, but they can be a challenge in some locations. The Honeycrisp Apple, for instance, was developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1974. It is a fine quality apple that is perfectly suited for colder climates. However, it can be a challenge in dry climates with low humidity. In regions with low summer humidity, Honeycrisp can drop its crop with the occasional heat spikes. In drier areas, Gala would be a much better choice. With that said, the Flavor King Pluot is an outstanding plum-like piece of fruit introduced in the 1980’s by Zaiger Hybrids and is limited to areas where apricots do well. If you are unaware of apricots in your area, a selection like the Methley plum would be a better choice. The point is to make sure to pay attention to where the variety you are selecting is recommended.

    Drainage is the next consideration. The #1 reason people lose fruit trees is due to poor drainage. The problem is most often not over watering, rather suffocation in the root zone brought on by standing water throughout the wintertime. Recovery in the spring is difficult because once spring begins, irrigation begins as well. This does not allow the tree to dry out in the root zone and it struggles. In the Midwest, Northeast and South - where the rainy season extends into the summer months - a poor draining location will often never allow the tree to adapt. Some have no other choice but to plant in a location that drains poorly. In this case, a raised bed planting is recommended. The dimensions for a raised bed need not be any more than 3 x 3 x 12 inches tall and can be done with any material that will last. A simple mound can satisfy the need to elevate, but it needs to be at least 24 inches high by 4 feet wide to ensure that the mound will settle to 2 feet high.

    Digging a hole can be the easiest task of all. The hole need not be any deeper than the depth of the root you are planting. In the case of a #3 gallon tree, the depth would only be 12 inches. The width of the hole should be 3 times the width of the root or container, and dug in a cone-like shape. Place the tree in the center of the hole (cone) cover with soil packing the root as you cover to ensure no air pockets are remaining. In most situations, there is no need to amend the soil except in the most extreme conditions where there is an obvious lack of organic material present. It is to the benefit of the tree to get established in the soil that it will live in as soon as possible. If you are planting in a raised bed whether due to poor drainage or for ornamental reasons, use native soil and don’t worry about digging a hole. Place your tree in the center of your raised bed and fill and pack.

    Mulching, in the eyes of the experts, has become one off the most important additions required to growing almost anything successfully. This is particularly the case with fruit trees. Mulch provides winter protection to the root, keeps the root cool in the heat of the summer and when regularly replenished, provides nutrients to the tree. This means that the overall expense of mulch begins to pay you back right away with a more consistent growing environment for your tree. Mulching should be done to 3 feet from the trunk after planting. This includes the raised bed when one is used. In colder climates - like those that can occur in Zone 4a through 5b - it is recommended that the mulch cover the outside of the raised bed. Place the mulch within 5 inches of the trunk of the tree and taper it away from the trunk so it does not cover it. Make sure it raises quickly to 3 to 4 inches going out to 3 feet from the newly planted tree.

    Irrigation systems for dry climates are an important addition to fruit tree maintenance. A dripline with emitters and a clock allows for the more consistent control of water distribution, making it easier to adjust watering needs throughout the year.

    Container or bareroot is a choice most often about timing. Bareroot is available from early January until June. The largest variety of fruit trees becomes available in the winter with the delivery of the current crop of fruit trees. Growers send one crop a year of bareroot harvested in fall and delivered throughout the winter and spring. It is now that most container fruit trees are planted up to become available as the bareroot winds down. The containers are typically available throughout the season and some will roll into the next year. Both are great choices, with containers being there anytime you are ready to plant.

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  2. The Forgotten Season: Fall Planting is Ideal For Many


    Fall is an amazing time of the year to plant many kinds of plants for your yard. Warm soils, and cool air combined with the possibility of better moisture makes for the opportunity for incredible root production. Lots of new roots in fall makes your plant ready to roll in the spring.

    Now, the plants … we are always broadening our palate of plants by working with the finest growers. As some of you may already know, Nature Hills has partnered with some of the best growers in many different parts of the country; quality plants are being grown in the best regions for a particular palate of plants.

    We have done this so that we can offer a broad array. Our citrus trees are grown in California - where they should be. Our Maple trees and Lilacs grown in Wisconsin so they are super hardy and can withstand the cold winters of the northern states. Our Magnolias and Dogwood trees are grown in Tennessee and Florida where they do best. Many shrubs and perennials are produced in Kansas where they get the heat to thrive. And let’s not forget an Alabama location that rocks out some beautiful southern shrubs, trees and perennials.

    Nature Hills sees the need to have these plants produced where they will be planted so they will acclimate quickly to their new home in your yard no matter where you live. This broad range of growing conditions at our production areas allows us to offer a massive variety of plants for sale.

    So, how can Nature Hills offer so many different kinds of plants for your home? We can successfully do so because we put the expertise of growing the best plants back to the nurseries that we have partnered with to bring you the best varieties, the broadest selection, and quality that you might not expect.

    Let’s plant this fall! Many people forget about benefits of fall planting.

    All of our plants are coming right from our growers. They are not old, overgrown, rootbound plants that garden centers are trying to unload before winter. We are selling a fresh new crop of plants right from the production areas. Nursery stock that is grown outside under natural conditions.

    As mentioned earlier, the warm soils make fall plantings so successful. Warm soil quickly allows new roots to grow and develop so quickly and the quicker your plants make new roots, the sooner they become less dependent upon you to care for them. New roots continue to develop late into fall.

    Watering is important for any new planting at any time of the year. In the fall, watering becomes easier because the plants are starting to use less water as the plants start to shed their leaves. The night temps are cooler and the daytime length is shorter.

    In spring, those plants installed in the fall will have a HUGE advantage and really act more like plants that have been in the ground for an entire year and not just a month or two.

    As our fall weather changes in our production areas, we will be seeing frosts and plants are starting to shut down. Some plants shut down earlier than others and the same holds true at our nurseries. We also group some of our plant close together so they can better winter. Sometimes the leaves will have some leaf spotting and some are turning yellow, red or brown. There is no reason for concern as these plants begin to go dormant.

    Green leaves make food for the plants to store. When the leaves have done their job, the shorter days and changes in temperatures let the leaves know they have done their job – and they can stop making chlorophyll (what keeps them green). When that happens, they start turning color.

    Remember the colder weather and frosts may cause some leaves, flowers to turn brown. Plants like Hydrangeas that might have beautiful white, pink, blue or red flowers on them will also be turning brown. Customers always call about the brown flowers on the Hydrangeas still and just know that is a very normal occurrence – especially at this time of the year.

    As mentioned earlier, our nursery production areas are outside growing in the natural elements. Our nursery stock in not mass produced coming out of greenhouses.

    For our fall shipments, please know that our plants can be in varying stages of going dormant. A rose or Spiraea shrub may look perfectly normal, but an Annabelle Hydrangea may have brown flower heads on them so just know that is normal for fall.

    Another interesting offering from Nature Hills is supplying BARE ROOT PLANTS. What is a bare root plant and why would you want one?

    Bare root plants are dug from our nursery with a digging machine like a potato digger – a big blade that goes under the roots and lifts the plants out of the ground shaking off all of the soil from the plants. We just started digging some of our bare root nursery stock in the more dormant areas.

    Bare root plants get dug, soil shaken off, and they go into our huge cooler facility where the plants are kept dormant. These fresh dug bare root plants can be held dormant from now until about mid-June. We do not offer all of our plants bare root, but we do have a great selection of trees and many shrubs. We also grow all other plants in either pots or grow bags that get shipped year-round.

    Why would you want to buy bare root? Bare root plants are lightweight, cheaper to ship, less expensive and easy to handle. Bare root plants have excellent roots and root hairs intact making them transplant beautifully.

    Bare root plants are most simply handled by digging a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the roots shipped with the plants. Use all of the soil that was removed from the hole to back fill in and around the roots. Water extremely well and the water will settle the soil in around the roots. Never plant your plants deeper than they were grown at the nursery or in the pots.

    Bare root plants shipped in fall many times still have leaves attached that may be dry or brown and that is very normal and no reason to have concerns. The leaves will drop when it is time.

    There is no better time to renovate or update your landscape than this fall. Get a jump on the spring planting and get some of your plants bought this fall. You will be pleased you did.

    Don’t forget fall planting of spring flowering bulbs made easy with our new Easy Bloom Pads. Spring flowering bulbs planted in groups of 8 at a time are making quite an impact in your landscape. Check them out HERE.

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  3. It’s Fall and Fall is the Time to Plant Fruit Trees

    Donald Wyman Crabapple

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  4. Fruit Trees Benefit From Fall Planting in the Mid West and East

    Tree mulch

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