#ProPlantTips

  1. Big & Beautiful Perennials

    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!

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  2. Please Don’t Roll Your Lawn

    Each spring, we see people having their lawn rolled. One of the biggest problems of growing most plants - whether roses, trees, or even grass – is soil compaction.

    Lawn rolling uses a heavy weight to roll over your grass area to eliminate bumps or imperfections. But please do not compact your soil.

    If you have imperfections in your lawn, you are better off raking topsoil into the lower areas and filling them in, INSTEAD of rolling and compacting your soil.

    Leave the lawn rolling to the amateurs and allow your lawn the opportunity to breathe!

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  3. “Un-wintering” your roses

    Those of you lucky enough to be growing roses in the warmer regions of the country, you don’t have to be so concerned about getting your rose plant to survive the winter season.  Your plants are already actively growing, and some are already seeing flowers. 

    In areas where roses go completely dormant and need protection, those roses are just starting to wake up. 

    We have found the best way to over winter Hybrid tea, Floribunda, Grandiflora, shrub roses, and climbers is to mound up the base of the plants with at least a foot of arborist wood chips, or mulch of any kind.  This covers the bottom foot of so of the canes protecting the plants.  Climbing roses that are not hardy should be carefully laid down and those canes covered with wood chips or mulch too.

    Now that winter has finally receded from the northern areas it is time to pull that mulch away from the bottoms of the rose canes and get them pruned!  Wear some good heavy gloves to protect your hands.

    Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, Floribundas, and many shrub roses all make flowers on NEW GROWTH.  That means that these roses you are uncovering really do need to be trimmed so the plants produce the best flowers. 

    In these colder regions, we do not trim roses in the fall.  We leave the rose branches (canes) alone until early spring just before they start to grow. 

    Older rose bushes that have been in place for many years you should take a bit of time with each plant eliminating any dead or brown and dry canes right down to the ground with a nice sharp pruning shears.  Any nice green stems that are not broken and look healthy should be reduced to about 6-8 inches in height. 

    The new growth that develops from those 6-8-inch canes will produce nice strong stems with large and healthy flowers. 

    Any of the older shrub rose types that bloom on old stems should not be pruned now.  Know what kind of rose you have before you prune.  Some of these older native roses that bloom on last years growth will flower in June and when that stem flowers you cut it down to the ground and new stems arise from the ground.  Those stems make next year’s flowers.

    Climbing roses are a bit fussier in the more northern climates for sure.   Very formally trained climbing roses that are trained over arches or trellises may need to have some professional advice based upon the variety to best know how to prune them. 

    In most cases Climbing roses will bloom on the stems from last year.  Then the newest shoots from the ground may also produce roses on the tips of those newest canes later in the summer.  When the oldest, fattest stems are done blooming after their first set of blooms, those stems can be removed as far down as the ground allowing new stems to take over that arise from the ground.  In some cases, if you are trying to maintain cover of an entire rose arbor you may decide to leave more of the older wood in place, so the plant does continue to cover the entire trellis or structure it has been trained on. 

    The key is removing older and/or diseased stems leaving clean and healthy stems each year.  Winter damage may make pruning decisions for you. 

    Clematis vines make and incredible companion plant that can be planted among climbing roses allowing the Clematis vines to mingle with the rose canes adding complementary or even contrasting colors to the rose blooms.  Both the Clematis and the Rose can co-mingle quite nicely neither overtaking the other making them perfect companions to co-exist. 

    Roses love sun.  The more sun, the more flowers you will see.  Sun makes strong canes and sturdy flowers, and initiates reblooming roses quicker.  Water the roots, do not water the leaves.  Keeping the leaves dry will lessen the chance of foliar diseases.  Mulch over the soil up to the rose canes will not only look nice, also reduces the incidence of soil born diseases.

    Treating roses for insects can be done with organic options or if not many.  Or if you are in an area that has a lot of pressure from insects you may want to consider using a systemic rose care option.  Granular systemic rose care is applied to the soil, watered in, and the plant takes up the active ingredient to prevent bugs from chewing on those plants. 

    With all the incredible options of shrub roses today, be sure to check out the many amazing colors, smaller sizes, and re-blooming and everblooming options that make shrub roses so popular for today’s color injectors to your landscape.

    If you need help deciding which roses are for you, be sure to let us help.  Don’t forget to cut a few and include them on your nightstand or at your dinner table. 

    Check out the many pages of pictures of the roses that we offer at Nature Hills Nursery by clicking here.

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  4. Southern Magnolia Trees Drop Leaves in Spring

    If you are a new owner of an elegant, white flowered Southern Magnolia, you should know this …

    Glossy, dark green, leathery leaves on the Magnolia are incredible, but when spring rolls around, those beautiful leaves turn yellow and spotted and fall off the tree. This is perfectly normal and is expected each year.

    Even though Southern Magnolias are evergreens, in spring, new leaves push off the old leaves - but not all at once.  Most deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall, but Southern Magnolias will drop the older leaves in the spring - every spring.

    Fresh new foliage replaces the older, discolored leaves, giving your plant a fresh new look each spring!  Enjoy.

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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  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. Keep Bird Feeders Clean During Winter

    Perhaps you’re not in an area that gets snow, but rain and other elements can cause your bird seed to need some attention.

    Wet birdseed can spoil quickly. Bird feeders need to be cleaned to prevent any disease from spreading. Check to see if the seed you offer is dry and make sure the trays have the hulls cleaned off. Add fresh seed if needed. ⠀

    The best approach is to spray diluted bleach and water solution on the feeder, let it dry, and then refill. Keep your feathered friends happy and healthy with fresh seed and water! 

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