#ProPlantTips by Nature Hills Nursery

Read and watch our #ProPlantTips how-to series of articles and videos.

  • How to select certain plants to match your site conditions and read Plant Highlight Facts
  • "Farmer's tricks" for planting tips
  • Pruning techniques for both spring, summer and fall blooming shrubs and trees
  • How to handle common plant diseases
  1. Mockorange Overhaul Due?

    Classic Mockorange plants of the past had kind of dull and not so attractive foliage and little fall color.  The plants were large and leggy and not so very attractive in the landscape as they got just too large. 

    Why Mockorange?  The flowers are wildly intoxicating and smell like sweet orange blossoms.  The other reason people planted Mockorange is because the elegant white flowers come at a time when there are not a lot of other shrubs blooming.  They typically start blooming in June after all the spring lilacs, Quince or Forsythia have finished. 

    Maybe you still have one of the old fashioned Mockorange shrubs in your yard now.  As soon as the flowers are done blooming, you can severely prune them as soon as the flowers are done blooming.   You can even cut all the stems down to the ground and new growth comes fr

    Read more »
  2. Peony Care After Flowering

    Peonies are amazing perennials.  Interesting how you even see them growing on abandoned farmsteads without any attention.  Simple care of full sun and well drained soils is all you need.

    Once the plants are done blooming, it is well worth your while to deadhead the old flower heads.  You do not want the plants to produce seed so removing the spent blooms it does not allow the plants to waste its food making seed, but storing food instead.  

    The other thing deadheading does is prevent fungal disease from affecting the plants. 

    Lastly, removing the old flower heads really cleans up the plants appearance and make them a nice green plant in the perennial or shrub border for the balance of the season. 

    Keep your Peony plants looking good, continue making food, and prevent disease simply by cutting off t

    Read more »
  3. Pick your color…

    Annuals are a terrific way to put some color in your landscape.  You don’t have to go crazy overboard to really punch up the front of your home. 

    Pick plants that work. Select plants that don’t need a lot of fussing with deadheading or have problems with disease or insects.  Annuals planted in the ground will need less watering than the ones in containers as the season progresses.  But in all cases, be consistent with food and water for the best show.

    Then, pick your color palate.  What color is going to show up nicely against the color of your home?  Is your home dark brick, earth tones, or white?  Will your plants be in sun or shade?

    White and green can be very elegant.  White and blue are a classic combo.  How about white blue and yellow together?  Red and yellow together is very showy and used a lot.  

    Read more »
  4. Pruning Pine Trees

    You would think you might need a pruning shears to prune your pine trees…but not the case at all.

    When the new growth elongates like it does at this time of the year on Pine Trees, it looks like “candles” stuck on the tips of each branch.  Usually there is one center longer candle in the center surrounded with several shorter candles.

    The best time to prune all pine trees is when the new candle growth expands and before any needles have started to from on those candles – typically 6” or so.  That new growth is tender and very easily shortened up by breaking that new growth back by about half way with your fingers leaving the longer candle the longest on the tip of each branch, including the very top of the tree.

    Do not

    Read more »
  5. Plant Watering Tips

    Plant types, soil types, sun/shade exposure, and the climate you are in will dictate your watering schedule for the plants in your yard.  Water deep and thorough, and as needed to prevent your plants from being stressed.  Plants that are not stressed remain vigorous and can ward off problems easier and recover faster if there is a problem.

    Water the soil at the roots always, don’t spray the leaves of any of your plants whether they are trees, shrubs, roses, annuals or perennials. 

    Don’t use a nozzle on your hose, just use the hose itself to water your plants.  Spray nozzles will tempt you to spray the flowers and leaves of your plants and that is exactly what you DO NOT want to do.    

    Morning watering is best if you can, that way i

    Read more »
  6. Healthy Bird Feeding Tips

    There are a few things you should know about keeping your bird feeding stations healthy for your visitors. 

    Summertime rains can get your seed in the bird feeders wet causing clumping and mold or sprouting to occur.  Regular feeding creates some debris to build up on the trays that have drainage holes (see below) to allow the rain or irrigation water to quickly drain away keeping the seed drier.  Scrape away this built up debris before you clean the feeders. 

    The next time you go to fill you feeders, shake them a bit to see if the seed can move freely within the feeder.  Maybe it is time to empty your feeder completely. 

    Take a bucket and put a 10% non-chlorine bleach solution in a bucket and scrub your feeders with the solution.  Rinse them well.  Then allow the feeders to dry in the sunshine before refilling them.


    Read more »
  7. Keep Your Coral Bells Looking Good

    There has been extensive work done hybridizing and selecting new introductions of Coral Bells.  The old-fashioned selections were basically grown for the airy wispy flowers born on long stems that put the flowers above the foliage.  They were great cut flowers to add to your arrangements.

    There are still some selections of Coral Bells that were selected for the flowers, but so many more selections have been introduced for the incredible leaf color.

    Coral Bells (Heuchera) come in a myriad of color from yellows, oranges, silver and purples of many shades.  They are wildly attractive perennials but have become more commonly used as landscape plants. 

    Many are grown predominately for the amazing foliage colors.  At some point, they do send up flower stalks and they do bloom.  Once the blooms are done, they spent

    Read more »
  8. Creating Interest on Your Brick Patio

    How is your brick patio looking?  How are you using that space? 

    Typically, you have seating areas and fire pit areas, and there are some places that are just unused.  Why not create a little interest in those out of the way spots?  Center spots, edges, corners all can be transformed into super little garden areas.

    How about removing some of those bricks in that patio and use those spots to showcase some of your favorite plants?  Remove the bricks to create an irregular interesting shape.  Perhaps you have a very formal patio and you can also do a very formal design as well.  How about pulling out part of a row and including Mixed Sedum just to define the edge?

    Remove the sand, gravel and replace with a planting mix based upon the kind of plants you will use.  You can also build up the area some to create

    Read more »
  9. Homemade Options for Controlling Insects, Killing Weeds, and a Fungicide

    Homemade insecticidal soap for your outdoor plants

    It is sometimes handy to have an old spray bottle loaded with an insecticidal soap mixture in case you see some bugs (aphids, beetles, mites or other chewing or sucking bugs) on your precious landscape plants.  Always test the mixture on a plant before spraying.   In an old window cleaner bottle mix up:

    Quart bottle almost full of clean water
    2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or Neem oil
    ½ teaspoon of mild soap like blue Dawn or castle soap without bleach

    Shake well and apply to dry foliage in the evening when it is not going to rain.


    Simple weed and grass total vegetation killer:

    Remember this mixture is used like you would a total vegetation killer, not for your lawn.

    Half gallon of vinegar
    1 cup

    Read more »
  10. Japanese Beetle Season Has Begun

    Do Japanese Beetles exist in your area?  Did they just move into your area?

    It seems that when Japanese Beetles first move into an area, they have a voracious appetite.  The brown beetles have an iridescent green sheen and commonly found feeding on the newest growth of plants they like.  The eat the tissue between the veins in the leaves leaving the leaves looking like brown lace.

    The also eat the flowers of some plants like roses.  Here you can see one in the lower left-hand corner feeding on the rose flowers.  

    What can you do to get rid of them?

    Depending upon where you live, the beetles are first noticed late June or early July.  Probably the easiest and most environmental way is to physically remove the bugs from the plants keeping in mind that they continue to hatch for 6-8 weeks.  Pick off the plants and put

    Read more »