New housing developments many times do not have many trees or natural areas in which they were carved out of. That doesn’t mean that you must put up with all that wind, or even neighbors that are encroaching upon your home retreat. In a short period of time, look what Green Giant Western Arborvitae can do for your property!
This planting has only been in for a little over 10 years. Even when the plants were smaller, they were trapping snow, blocking wind, or blocking unsightly views. No pruning was done but these Green Giant were allowed to just grow naturally and why not? Beautiful and natural.
Each year they get a bit taller and wider and become more valuable as they age. You can’t say that about a fence…lol.
Planting continues all season long with high quality container grown plants from Nature Hills with great success!
As the season changes, so do our care suggestions for the types plants being delivered during the heat of the summer. Water is crucial for the plants survival right at the start.
The key to understanding container grown plants is that they only take water from the soil that we shipped with the plants. The plants are growing full speed now with heat and longer days at the nursery. The roots have now filled the pots and have infiltrated all the soil within that pot.
At the nursery they are getting watered once, maybe twice each day possibly including a cool down watering during the heat of the day. This container grown plants need to be completely saturated and if you take the time to do just that, the success rate is beyond belief.
Here are a few tips for summer and fall:
- Summer container grown plants need to be rehydrated as soon as you can open the box! You need to get your plant caught up on the moisture it requires to sustain the plant, and the best way to do that is to fill a large bucket with enough water so when you put that container plant into the water, it will completely cover the soil and pot completely.
- Now let that pot sit under water until it stops bubbling (which means it has saturated the soil completely), pull the plant out and let any excess drain away.
- Now, plant your new plant by digging a hole no deeper than the pot but twice as wide. Backfill with the soil you excavated from the hole, and one more time fill the hole with water completely saturating the soil of the plant and the soil around it. We see a huge amount of success with this planting method!
- After planting, how do you know if your plant needs water or not? Use the finger test. Stick your finger into the soil up to the 2nd knuckle right at the roots. If it feels moist- skip watering that day. If it feels dry – water thoroughly. As soon as the roots grow out to find their own food and water they become less dependent upon you for water. Rain does not usually generate enough moisture unless it was a soaker. Remember that temperature, wind, and soil type will all affect how quickly a new plant dries out.
- Lastly, water the soil (not the leaves) of any plant. Watering the soil and keeping the leaves dry lessens the chance of leaf spotting, foliar disease, or bacteria on the plant. Putting mulch over the roots maintains better moisture and prevents soil borne disease on the leaves.
Nature Hills is shipping quality, completely compliant plants across the U.S. all summer long.
Have you ever heard the garden saying regarding establishing perennials: “the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap”? Nature Hills is making it easy to make the leap and create big impact with well-established perennials for your backyard oasis.
Last year, we geared up our perennial production and started growing beautiful specimen perennials in big #1 container size that are 6-8 inches across and hold about a gallon of soil. This crop is now ready for your landscape. These #1 perennials are going to present well in your landscape and will “leap” much sooner for you.
Growing perennials a year ahead gives these plants time to multiply and grow to a nice size in our pots. Many other growers pot up small liners and force them out in a greenhouse then ship them in the same season. These #1 plants were grown last year, overwintered, and shipped now. Our big robust perennials travel well in our beautifully engineered boxes, arriving at your door healthy and ready for planting.
When you receive your #1 perennials, pull the root ball out of the pot, lay on its side, and cut off the bottom inch or so of soil and plant for perfect success. Give these larger more established plants more space in your landscape because we grew them an extra year for you!
It is important to know when to prune your flowering shrubs, so you get the most flowers. Timing your pruning is the key to success.
Many early spring flowering plants already made their flowers all hidden and tucked away in the growth from last year. Pruning at the wrong time will eliminate those flowers. Here are some tips to keep you in the know.
Let’s take a Lilacs for example…
If you are out in the yard and your Lilac looks large and you have a pruner in your hand, it is late summer - and you just cut off the tips of the branches – your lilac will not bloom in the spring. Let’s say you pruned them in fall, the same thing would happen in spring – no flowers. Let’s say you prune your Lilacs in early spring before they leaf out - same scenario because you are removing the flowers that formed in the growth that developed last year.
There are many different kinds of Lilacs, and the bloom times are common and hyacinthiflora types, then the French Hybrids, then the Miss Kim & Dwarf Korean types, the Canadian hybrids, and lastly…the Japanese tree Lilacs. As each of these kinds of lilacs finish bloom – that is the perfect time to prune each of those lilacs without affecting next years flowers. Older and overgrown Lilacs can be renewal pruned (removing the oldest stems out to the ground) and again right after bloom is done.
Let’s look at some of these other early spring blooming shrubs.
Flowering Quince is an early spring blooming rockstar. Orange flowers bust out early and last for more than a month. Then the plant breeders went to work and introduced many new varieties and new colors and some re-current blooming as well. Trimming Quince varieties is best done immediately after the early spring blooms finish. Then all of the new growth will make next years flower so no pruning after the initial prune is done right after the flowers are done. Those newer varieties can and will throw some additional flowers throughout the summer but keep the pruning to that time following the early bloom always.
Forsythia varieties too have increased in number over the years. Forsythia flowers are a welcoming sunny yellow or gold flowers arranged all along the stems in early spring before the leaves appear.
Forsythia varieties are typically fast growing and are all basically treated the same way for pruning. As soon as the flowers are done (with their sometimes month-long show) in early spring – that is the time to prune! Older and overgrown Forsythia plants can actually be cut down to the ground right after the blooms are done and all new growth will develop and still bloom the following spring. Many of the newest selections remain much smaller and easier to incorporate into smaller landscapes.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas are treated the same when it comes to pruning. Basically, Azaleas are considered Rhododendrons and are all included under the Rhododendron group. Some are evergreen holding their leaves all year, and some do lose their leaves. Reblooming varieties are being introduced all of the time but most of them are hardy in some of the warmer zones.
Pruning Rhododendron and Azalea varieties is sometimes hard for many to want to do – why would anyone want to reduce the size of a plant that flowers on every tip? Well, in some areas they can get big or need a little tweaking to keep them looking like you want them to. Pruning Rhododendron and Azalea varieties can be done right after the first round of flowers begin to fade. A hand pruner selectively reducing the length of any branches back into the body of the plant will allow the plant to continue in its more natural form. Do not be afraid to prune these amazing plants. They will respond beautifully to pruning and still form more flower buds in the new growth that happens after the pruning is complete.
Magnolias are wildly showy and highly valued landscape plants. Some Magnolias are grown as single stem trees, and many more are grown more like large shrubs with low branching or multiple stem plants. Both methods of production are seen across the country, and preference is up to you. Most Magnolias are larger growing plants and are used as a specimen plant or focal point in the landscape.
Pruning Magnolias may be necessary to correct the structure, tweak the form, or reduce the size a bit. Pruning should only be done right after the amazing flowers finish. (kind of a theme here).
Weigela plants have had extensive interest with breeders also. New selections offer new form, smaller size, great and varied leaf color & flower colors, and reblooming capabilities stronger than ever. Flowers in spring are best on last years stems so do not trim Weigela until that first round of flowers are done blasting off in June in many areas. Waiting will allow your plants to bloom as heavily as Azaleas do, covering the stems with trumpet shaped flowers that the hummingbirds love.
Older Weigela varieties were much larger and most likely need more pruning then the newer, smaller selections. Larger, older selections can be renewal pruned by removing the oldest stems out to the ground leaving the thinner and smaller stems to take over. If very overgrown you can wait until the first round of flowers finish and cut the branches all down to the ground and allow new shoots to take over and bloom on the tips in fall and the following spring too.
Birch and Maple trees can bleed sap if pruned early spring, so if you wait until they have leafed out, those cuts will not bleed and heal over quickly.
Spring Flowering Bulbs are so very welcome in the landscape. Keep your bulbs happy and healthy by pruning them the right way. Enjoy the flowers. When the flowers finish, remove only any seed heads that might form leaving all other green parts of the plants remain. These green leaves and flower stems make food for the bulbs and will keep your flowers next year larger and healthy. Many people like to cut off the leaves when the flowers are done but wait to cut any of the leaves off until they turn yellow and they have done their job of making more food for the bulbs.
We hope this help you get the most flowers out of your shrubs! If you have specific pruning questions, you can send them to [email protected], and we would be pleased to help you.
There are many kinds of Hydrangeas available today. Maybe the plant breeders went a little crazy introducing new selections recently. The good news is there are a lot of Hydrangeas with new color options, smaller plants, and more flower power!
Nature Hills offers many options with some of the newest and the best.
There is one group of Hydrangeas with pink or red flowers that can be changed to blue or purple flowers by altering the soil pH. This group is called Bigleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) and the flower color can be changed by growing the plants in a lower soil pH.
There was a breakthrough with this species of Hydrangea that opened the door to growing them in colder regions. Then the plant breeders went to town introducing many new varieties with many new shades of reds, pinks, purples and blues. Some are mop head types with rounded flowers, and others are lace-cap flowers that are flat topped and the flowers open in a circle.
In general, these hydrangeas really prefer a slightly acidic soil higher in organic matter, mulch over the roots, and protection from the hot afternoon sun. Soil pH is the measure of alkalinity (higher) or acidity (lower) of the soil. You can buy pH test kits, or you can get soil from your local ag extension office to find out the pH and fertility levels - if you are interested in trying to change color at home.
Most of the production nurseries are growing these plants by treating the soil with aluminum sulfate or soil sulfur. The flowers that are produced in the lower soil pH are lavender, purple, or blue – or even a mix of these colors.
Some areas of the country naturally have a lower soil pH and those same Bigleaf Hydrangeas exhibit the blue and purple colors naturally. Maybe those same Hydrangeas are more pink and red at your home? If that is the case, then you can change those colors by treating the soil of your Hydrangea macrophylla.
Have you seen all the amazing selections available today? Smaller plants that re-bloom, and bloom for longer periods of time are leading the pack. Remember that only Hydrangea macrophylla types are the ones that you can change the flower color. In Hydrangea arborescens types (like the old-fashioned Annabelle types), flower color is not affected by the soil it is grown in. The same holds true for Hydrangea paniculata selections that are so popular, as well as Hydrangea quercifolia. These plants are not affected by the soil pH, but the flowers all do a bit of changing as they age and eventually dry and remain on the plants.
A simple way to change the color of your Hydrangea macrophylla selection is to add 1 tablespoon of aluminum sulfate mixed with a gallon of water and use that to water your plant throughout the growing season - a couple of cups each week or so. This simple method will help keep the soil pH lower and the blue and purple flowers coming on. When watering your plants with this mixture please be sure that your plant is not completely dry when you apply the aluminum sulfate as it could burn the roots. Keep your hydrangea roots watered and then apply the solution the next day to prevent any issues.
Amazing Hydrangeas! Click here to check out all the incredible selections our production team is pumping out!
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.
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.
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, 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 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!
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.
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!
Marketing has played a huge role in bringing to the forefront one of the most wonderful categories of fruit, the Mandarin. With the introduction of bagged Clementine Mandarins under various brands beginning in the mid-2000's, the Mandarin has quickly become recognized for what it is: the world’s finest fruit.
The Mandarin has been recognized for its superior qualities in China since the 3rd century AD. Its introduction into the United States would not occur until the 1840's when the Italian consul brought one to New Orleans, La. from Italy. From this point, it was introduced to the southern coastal states, Florida and finally to California.
The Mandarin, sometimes mistakenly called a Tangerine (which is a marketing name for one Mandarin variety), represents a category of mostly small, seedless, easy-to-peel, wonderfully flavored fruit. Mandarins have a distinct flavor all their own; it is a Mandarin flavor, which is not an orange. In many varieties, the acidity of the Mandarin is masked by the intense sweetness of the fruit mixed with the rich Mandarin flavor. It almost seems like a sub-acid fruit.
In the late 1800’s, Mandarin names like the ‘Willow Leaf’, the ‘King’ and the ‘Oneco’ were introduced into the U.S. The #1 variety of Mandarin for the next 100 years - the ‘Owari’ Satsuma - arrived around 1876.
The Owari proved the most adaptable of all Mandarin varieties and remains that today. It is the most cold-hardy of all mandarins, tolerating temperatures in the mid- to low-20s. It was immediately identified as being more resistant to disease problems common to other Citrus varieties.
Today, Owari remains the most popular variety of Mandarin planted in the home-garden. Seedless, easy to peel, most often the first to ripen, the Owari is hard to beat when you add its cold hardiness and let’s not forget the great flavor!
But in the last 20 years, many new Mandarin varieties have been introduced or have been rediscovered. These newer selections have tremendous qualities that make them standouts as superior fruits, aside from just being Mandarins.
The Clementine is a stand out as the primary variety used for the popular bagged Mandarins introduced the early 2000’s. There are many varieties of Clementine's that ripen at different times allowing commercial growers the opportunity to harvest over a longer period. For the home garden, the Algerian Clementine is seedless, easy to peel and harvests between October and January. Right off the tree, the Clementine is a very fine flavored fruit.
Then comes the powerhouses of this Mandarin Era, newer selections, fast becoming popular based only on their exceptional flavor. Varieties such as:
- Kishu Seedless Mandarin: a bite-size fruit that peels with ease, ripens in November, and has a wonderfully sweet, juicy flavor will keep you eating them like candy.
- Pixie Mandarin: ripens early to mid-January, the flavor of the Pixie Mandarin cannot be overstated. The long harvest period is amazing, beginning in January one can be picking wonderful flavored Pixie’s into June - if they last that long. It’s upright growth habit make it a perfect choice for planting in tight spaces, espalier or container planting.
- Gold Nugget Mandarin: this variety leads the pack in flavor, and extended harvest! In many taste tests it has proven to be one of the highest rated of all the Mandarin varieties. Coming ripe in mid-February, it is not uncommon to be picking fruit as late as September. Upright in growth habit makes it a great choice for containers, tight plantings, and espaliers.
- Page Tangelo: although technically a Tangelo, the Page Mandarin is a Minneola Tangelo crossed with a Clementine Mandarin. The Page needs a mention because of its outstandingly rich flavor. Ripening in December the Page has dependable crops of medium size, is an easy to peel, deep orange fruit. If the Mandarin has a unique flavor of citrus, the Page Mandarin is quite possibly the most unique of all.
There it is, some varieties to think about for planting in your home garden. The Era of the Mandarin is on. Don’t miss out on another crop of delightful Mandarins to enjoy in your garden.