Our busy lives have us so disconnected from the seasonal cycles that we’re always playing catch up, and that can be exhausting!
That’s why having a plan and writing things down are so important! Writing your thoughts, plans and ideas down is the halfway point between the magical realm in our heads and actually, physically doing something about them! Turning thoughts into sometime more concrete and tangible, and makes planning so much easier!
Gardening and landscape maintenance is no different! You need to have a plan!
The Great Garden Journal
Stay on Track & Feel More Organized
Whether it's part of your daily mindful journaling, a household planner that logs all your honey-dos and periodical home and garden maintenance jobs, or a dedicated Flower or Vegetable Garden Planner; there’s something concrete about putting words to paper (or typing out your intentions into an app) that just help those intentions coalesce into reality.
Besides, no matter how much you read and learn, even if you’ve been doing it for years - each year, each season, and each person's experience and success are never the same! No two gardens, no two people, and no two years are ever identical. Ma Nature and Murphy’s Law are there to throw you some curve balls!
You and your garden are unique - so it’s important for you to be taking notes.
The Great Garden Journal
As a lifelong gardener or a newbie, tracking your failures and successes, that year's quirks, recording weather events, and learning are important parts of growth. Besides, the older we get, the more things start running together!
Keeping a garden planner to track what you see and did each year helps you feel more in tune with the seasons, just the way your plants and wildlife are! So start your own and record backyard events each growing season!
Important Dates & Info - All In One Place!
Document what happens in your garden or landscape from year to year. You’ll have some fond memories to look back on, a place to turn to when particular events pop up again and be able to see how you handled them, and get an idea of what to expect. This is especially important to start doing when you are just starting your gardening and landscaping journey!
Garden Maintenance Reminders and Scheduling
A calendar of every month so you can keep track of chores at a glance
When to Renewal prune shrubs and when to divide your perennials
Diagram of what you planted and where
Saved seed inventory and dates
Expected harvest dates
Fertilizing & spraying schedules
Charts and plant info
Growing zone information
First & last frost dates - Melting of ice and snow
Raking, mulching, mowing, lawn aeration, dethatching, pruning dates, and more!
Pictured below is a basic sample page (for a given plant) out of a garden journal.
It is very important to remember to rotate crops of plants like Tomatoes, which should not be grown in the same location for 3-4 years again. List phone numbers or websites that are your frequent go-to resources. Set up a schedule of reminders - gutter clean-out, sharpen the mower blade, get the maintenance done on the snow blower, that great company that always has firewood or power-rakes the lawn inexpensively. Anything related to year-round maintenance is important to write down.
Another thing we suggest doing each year at the end of the growing season is to write down the names of the best performing Tomato varieties, the best or your family’s favorite vegetable, or herb that grew like crazy in that one spot. Note which Begonia or Petunia varieties did amazing in your porch pots that year. Make a note of the best performers so when you buy plants next spring you will not have to remember what to shop for and what to avoid. No, no matter how great it did, you may not remember it next season!
Calendar with scheduled dates and reminders
A sketch of your landscape to scale - including measurements and square footage
A sketch of your garden layout from season to season
Expenses and receipts (might want to hide these from the spouse)
When you started seeds and transplanted plants
Which plants were standouts and which were failures that year
A companion planting chart and crop rotation charts/dates
The dates you dug that new bed/installed that new plant
Organize seed packets, save plant tags, and list plant sources/dates bought
Phone numbers and websites like:
Your lawn and landscaping company
The Digger’s hotline
Your County Extension Office
An Arborist or tree specialist
Resources like free arborist mulch chips at https://getchipdrop.com
There’s so much information you can document once you think about it! Think of all the things you wish you could remember or look back on.
Phenology charts - Events such as flowering times and first leaves emerging
Unusual weather & Rainfall dates and totals
Your own photos and sketches
Track birds, record butterfly sightings, and count Honeybees!
Insects you’ve seen and how you treated pests/diseases that popped up
Snipped articles, pressed leaves/flowers & garden mementos
Plant wish lists and their growing requirements
A pantry, canning, dried herb inventory, and dates
Daily, weekly and monthly observations - Compare them to previous years
Day-to-day thoughts, dreams, future plans & ideas!
It’s also a fantastic way to get outdoors and commune with the natural world. Buy or make your own gardening journal, or download your favorite app, then start recording! You’ll feel more connected and collected!
Stay on Track & Feel More Organized
An online or downloaded app like Smart Plant & Tree Care helps those who are more tech-savvy, or an old-school scrapbook, spiral notebook, or composition book work great too! Even a pocketbook calendar for those on the go. It doesn’t have to be fancy and have all the bells and whistles.
A ring binder is sometimes best because it allows you to insert the many free, downloadable and printable sheets that are available online! You can add or remove pages and keep things organized at your fingertips! Then easily add more with each passing year.
Include lined and graph paper, blank pages, envelopes glued onto pages for small items and pressed plants (free envelopes from junk mail), calendar pages, make or buy sheet protector pages to slide plant tags and seed packets into, or pages to glue your photographs onto. Tabs allow you to easily jump between sections. Some glue and/or tape, and a bit of a routine and you got a garden journal! Some fun stuff to get if you want are gel pens, stickers, post-it notes, markers and highlighters, and scrapbooking additions. But they are by no means essential.
Famous Last Words
Me to self: “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it!”
Narrator: “Moments later, she would not remember. In fact, she even forgot what *it* even was.”
Don’t let this mistake happen to you! There’s a reason why that fuzzy, hazy, and incorporeal space between our ears is called the 'gray' matter!
All you really need is a pencil and paper - it's just that easy! Just start writing down what is going on in your garden daily, weekly, or whenever you can! You’ll not only feel more relaxed but you will also feel more 'present'!
With a sweep of the mighty pen (or a swipe on an app), you’ll turn those garden thoughts and dreams into reality faster and easier - by getting organized with your own Garden Journal today!
Pick a winner! Attention all plant fanatics! Every year there are scores of new plants hitting the market! And 2023 isn’t any different!
Maybe you have seen or read about some of these new favorites? Trade publications and local growers may be promoting some of these new garden additions, but when it comes time to plant – they are always gone!
Box stores only carry the old standbys, but they never seem to get the new plants that are being promoted. Luckily, Nature Hills has many new and exciting plant varieties, the hottest trending color flowers, space-saving dwarf varieties, and the latest reblooming plants in production right now! All waiting to be shipped right to your doorstep!
<Table of Contents>
The Latest 2023 Plants at NatureHills.com!
There’s no line and no waiting for these exciting new plant offerings!
The sweet and petite Leprechaun™ Thuja are a fantastic addition to your landscape. Bright shamrock-green, these mid-sized columnar evergreens stay bright-green year round, without the bronzing many other Thuja display in the winter. Slow-growing and ultra-low-maintenance, these are perfect for containers and landscape privacy hedges alike! The natural pyramidal form tolerates heat and cold throughout USDA growing zones 5 to 8!
A GardenChoice™ offering that features overwhelmingly beautiful Garden Pinks that don’t seem to stop blooming all growing season long, the EverBloom™ Dianthus line of plants has the family’s classic Carnation fragrance and semi-evergreen blue-green foliage! You’ll love the colors Nature Hills has for you to choose from!
Watermelon Ice - frosty blue-green foliage & long stems of watermelon & pink blooms
Plum Glory - big white, plum, violet tri-color blooms & deep blue-green foliage
Strawberry Tart - rosy pinks, hot pinks & strawberry blend with lighter eyes!
Enjoy the quarter-sized blooms with toothy petal edges and triple splashes of color with lighter eyes like a bullseye’s for your visiting pollinators!
The new moscheutos hardy Hibiscus will be your new garden favorite. Early to emerge from dormancy and early to flower, these dark-leaved Hibiscus bloom 3-4 weeks earlier than others on the market! The big tropical blooms have the typical tropical Hibiscus flowers with a smaller mature form! Growing from the roots each spring, these shrubs are root-hardy down to zone 5!
Rosita Hibiscus - Big rounded petals in baby pink & red-rose eyes radiate into light pink petals
Carmine Hibiscus - Bold deep carmine-red blooms are saturated through and through
Morello Hibiscus - Cherry red blooms are deeply saturated with ruffled petal edges
Another GardenChoice™ offering, these are long-lasting blooming plants that add an exotic flair to your landscape from summer until frost! Also featuring dense, compact branching and decreased seed set making them nearly seedless. Moonshadow™ Hibiscus are also highly tolerant and resistant to Japanese Beetles!
Hottest New Succulents!
Chick Charms® line of GIANTS Hardy Succulents is a colorful new line of year-round hardy Hens-n-Chicks (Sempervivum)! Each colorful rosette grows several inches wide and spreads to form dense mats with spilling, trailing and clumping symmetrical bundles of unique charm! Cold hardy down to zone 3 and up to zone 8 outdoors, your garden pots and planters, retaining walls, and Rock Gardens will gain impressive form and color all year long!
Choose from these exciting new color combinations!
Emerald Explosion PPAF Hardy Succulent - Burgundy & emerald green rosettes!
Copper Canyon PPAF Hardy Succulent - Coppery red & green concentric pointed foliage!
Gold Mine PPAF Hardy Succulent - Red & golden yellow rosettes!
Glacier Blue PPAF Hardy Succulent - Frosty blue-green & burgundy foliage
Featuring exemplary colors, intriguing symmetrical form and boasting superb cold-hardiness, these easy-to-grow Succulents will add that finishing touch of elegance to your garden's xeric locations without sacrificing space!
Two Fantastic New Hydrangeas!
It’s so difficult to pick just one, so the number one spot on our Newest Plants for 2023 are including both the newest Hydrangea bush options! The Endless Summer® Pop Star® Hydrangea
is a gorgeous lacecap Hydrangea that can be either pink or blue depending on your soil's pH. This Bigleaf Hydrangea has the family's big quilted and texted foliage, strong stems for fresh and dried floral arrangements, and extreme cold-hardiness (zones 4-9)! All this in an18-36 inch tall and wide, rounded form!
The other newest Hydrangea is one Nature Hills had a hand in naming! The French Manicure™ Panicle Hydrangea bush is a gorgeous fluffy and flouncy white bloom that ages to a deepening rosy pink as the season progresses! Growing into a rounded 4-5 feet in height and width, these are incredible pollinator and cut flower blooms and are very easy to grow! Thriving in both sun and part shade, these are also very cold-hardy shrubs down to USDA zones 3 through 8.
Jump Into 2023 With NatureHills.com!
Don’t wait to start looking for your new favorites and get them bought now before the spring rush when they will be sold out. Our newest plants are always the ones to sell out first!
Reserve these and many more fantastic new offerings available to bring your landscape into the new year! Check out Nature Hills' shipping schedule and information. Rest assured that we’ll take care of your order at the nursery and ship it out to you at the proper planting time based on your Hardiness Zone!
We guarantee that every plant we ship is of the finest quality and that your order will be carefully handled and shipped to ensure that you receive a healthy product!
Big unearthly blooms, unique color and form, and elegant climbing tendrils, Clematis have captured our hearts with their stunning beauty since they became garden standards in 1862!
Relatively easy to grow and very low-maintenance, Clematis root division is an important component for maintaining these incredible, long-lived plants! Read on to find out more about the upkeep of these gorgeous flowering climbing Vines!
When Can You Divide Clematis?
How to Divide Clematis
Double Your Garden Beauty With Division!
Clematis got its name from the Greek word “klematis”, simply meaning vine. This genus of flowering plants native to China and Japan is actually in the Ranunculus family! Vigorously growing woody deciduous vines (some are even evergreen!), the vivid blossoms come in a dizzying array of colors, shapes, forms, and sizes. A few even have some fragrance!
Clematis adds vertical color to your garden, or they can even be a sprawling, cascading groundcover. Pot smaller vines up, or let larger ones completely cover fences and hide eyesores. Given the name Old Man’s Beard due to the long fluffy seed heads that look like an old man’s beard, Clematis are also sometimes known as Leather Flowers.
Not only are the blooms perfect in floral arrangements, and the puffy seed heads fantastic visual interest in dried bouquets, but the vines are great for making wreaths! Pollinators, like bees and butterflies, and hummingbirds, enjoy these blooms as much as we do.
Their ease-of-care and brilliant blooms look great even in shady areas! Growing a Clematis vine is a fun and easy activity for any gardener. Plus, adding these gorgeous blossoms is a fast way to dress up any place in the garden without taking up much space! For more on the care of these fantastic plants, check out our Clematis #ProPlantTips for care and training!
When Can You Divide Clematis?
Dividing Clematis is one form of propagation of the plant that helps maintain its vigorous growth and prevents these plants from becoming crowded. Clematis division consists of taking one plant that has grown well and dividing it at the roots into two or more plants. These plants can then be transplanted to different areas of the garden to spread beauty elsewhere (or gifted to a neighbor, friend or family!).
Clematis are best transplanted and divided in early spring, just before new growth begins to appear, but after the plant emerges from dormancy. If you miss the opportunity in spring, you can also divide in fall after the plant becomes dormant. You can ideally divide any time throughout the growing season, as well as long as you are able to baby them along through the summer's heat with consistent moisture maintenance, attention, and care.
When dividing Clematis plants, it is important to know what species the Clematis is. Different Clematis will bloom at different times, and thus pruning and dividing your Clematis will vary depending on the type you have.
There are 3 Groups of Clematis and which type you have can affect when it is best to prune, divide, and/or transplant your Clematis roots.
Group 1: Blooms on Old Wood
For Clematis that bloom on the old wood, do not prune until they are done flowering. Then you can reduce the size, and remove the oldest thickest stems but only right after they bloom. Fall may be better for Group 1 Clematis because by pruning off the stems to divide them, you remove that year's flowers.
Group 2: Blooms on New and Old Wood
Clematis pruning of the second group, consisting of varieties that bloom on both the current and previous year's growth. Begin in early spring with light pruning. When pruning, keep variations in stem length to produce a better-balanced plant. Any weak or dead wood should be removed at this time as well. Spring division of Group 2 Clematis also allows for you to still enjoy flowers that year, but you will miss out on the first flush of blooms that would have flowered on that old wood if you have to cut too much of the tops off when transplanting.
Group 3: Blooms on New Wood
Clematis are later bloomers, the flowers form on new growth (that current growing season) and can be cut down to 12-18" in late winter or early spring and the new growth develops from the stems you leave. This results in blooms near the base and flowers sporadically up the height of the entire plant. Dividing Group 3 Clematis in spring is best because you won’t miss out on any blooms that same year.
How to Divide Clematis
Now that you know which type of Clematis you have, you can prune back the top growth, leaving at least three to four good buds per stem. This way you don’t have a huge tangle of vines attached to whatever structure you have them growing on.
Clean mulch, excess soil, and leaf litter away from the base of the plant.
Prune back vines and gently tie up the remaining stems to make them easier to work with.
With a sharp, clean spade, dig around the entire base of the plant straight down and about 1-2 feet away from the clump of stems. Being careful not to damage the roots.
Using a garden fork, gently lift the entire plant all around a little at a time until it is free.
Gently tease away excess soil from the root system by hand or with a hose for a clear view of your crown and rootball.
With a sharp spade or knife, carefully cut your rootball into 2-3 even pieces. Each section should have an even amount of roots.
Get the new divisions into a protected cover or pot of moistened soil, or back into the ground as soon as possible to prevent drying out.
Add NatureHills.com Root Booster for root formation and lifelong symbiotic beneficial fungal support.
Plant your new crowns so they are situated just slightly below the soil level. Not too deep, not too shallow.
Backfill and tamp down firmly.
Water in very well and continue to water regularly using the finger-test method for the remainder of that growing season.
Cover the root system with a 3-4 inch thick layer of arborist mulch chips.
Another option is to leave your plant in place and simply dig around one side of the root ball. This way, instead of digging up the entire plant, you can carefully excavate a smaller portion of the existing plant (only removing an accessible portion of the clump), and leave the main part of the plant in place. This will insure the main part of the undisturbed plant will continue to flower and grow unaffected. Replace enough topsoil or compost into the void and tamp down, then water well and replace the mulch. Move the divided portion to a new location that is well drained, and water very well - making sure to plant only as deep as the original plant is growing as noted above.
Remember that proper site selection will make or break your success! Because the roots are susceptible to rot if not properly situated and in well-drained soil. Plant in a location where water can drain away fast and not in pool for long periods of time, with good access to air circulation and enough sun to support that variety of Flowering Clematis Vine. Morning sun is best to dry leaves of dew.
Double Your Garden Beauty With Division!
Gain more plants for your garden while increasing the vigor of your current garden gems by dividing every 3-5 years! But that means enjoying doubling - or even tripling - your vertical flowering accents for your garden for free!
Get a bigger and better garden by dividing your plants regularly! Then check out all the new offerings Nature Hills has to offer you to complete your landscape today!
Questions? Head over to our #ProPlantTips Garden Blog for more planting advice and ideas, or contact our knowledgeable customer service department for more information any time!
“Plant, and your spouse plants with you; weed, and you weed alone!”
The planting process is basically the same - whether for Shrubs and Trees, or Perennials or Tomato plants - the simple act of stirring up the soil inevitably brings new weed seeds up to the surface, clears away their competition, and allows them a chance to germinate!
Being prepared for these adventitious weed seeds, some of which lie in wait for years for this chance, is an important part of working in your landscape!
Time to grab your garden hoe and show them who is boss!
Methods of Control
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Attacking your weeds when they are tiny is so much easier than waiting until they get big. Those larger root systems, the possibility they’ve already gone to seed, deep taproots, and how even the tiniest piece of root left behind can start things all over again - it’s not worth taking the chance.
Besides, the time it takes to remove tiny weeds is minimal and can be easily cleaned up with much less time!
Depending on the weed variety you’re combatting, simply by working in the garden and digging in the soil, you are creating an environment for these overachievers to get a foot-hold. Some just need sun and warm temperatures to germinate, while others prefer freshly disturbed soil.
Whether the weeds are in your garden, the lawn, or even in mulched beds… a quick once-over with the tool of your choice will eliminate the baby weeds before they become overwhelming.
Stay ahead of the game with just 10 minutes of mind and soul-refreshing garden time! (Hey, it even counts as exercise!) Relieving stress and picturing yourself yanking your irritations in life out by the roots is almost better than therapy!
Before you reach for a chemical or even organic spray, go ahead and try getting out the hand trowel, a garden hoe or other weeder, or a pair of gardening gloves. Then bent over or on hands and knees, do some garden Yoga pulling out your landscape invaders. I laugh at the thought that my neighbors may not recognize me from the front since I’m usually found bent over pulling weeds.
Procrastination is the number one gardener's mistake. The weeds seem to know and double their efforts to turn your newly created tomato bed into a jungle! Woody weeds like tree or shrub seedlings, or weed grass seeds, none of them waste any time getting entrenched, spread, and go to seed before you can blink! A quick walk-through 2-3 times a week with your garden hoe can make easy work of it.
The Right Tools
Yard Waste Bag or Compost Bin
Hand or Long-Handled Hoe or other Garden Weeder
Dandelion Knife/Fishtail weeder for taproots
Landscape Fabric and Mulch
Pre Emergent Treatments
Know Your Enemy!
Knowing the type of weed you are dealing with takes some identification, experience and the right tools for each. When breaking ground on a new planting site, there can be all sorts of weeds laying in wait for this great opportunity. Starting by knowing if you are combatting annual, perennial & biennial weeds will save you time.
Plants with taproots have a root that can be several inches deep. If they break off in the ground, they can regrow. Remove these as deep as possible. Dandelions are an example.
Herbaceous weeds, like Chickweed and small weed grasses, can be cut off just below the soil level with a sharp knife or weeder and not disturb the soil around them (allowing dormant weeds to be brought up to the surface).
Woody weeds, like those from shrubs and trees, have tougher stems and taproots, and sometimes need a shovel to remove them.
Spreading and mat-forming weeds like Prostrate Knotweed, can root at every node that touches the ground, so remember to get out all those nodes and roots at each junction.
Lastly the suckering vs runner-forming weeds like Mint can start in one area and sprout in another. Check around the area of each to make sure you have gotten all their satellite branching.
Methods of Control
The best means of control is prevention! Anytime you start a new garden area or have disturbed the soil for a new plant installation, you have several methods to stop the weeds from forming in the first place.
Getting weed seed-free soil and compost when filling garden beds and containers is essential to remember. If you are getting dirt from an unknown source, you can cook it in batches in an old crockpot on low, or cook it in the sun in black plastic or a dark-colored tarp. Keeping your compost pile running hot with lots of nitrogen, will kill any microscopic bacteria, plant viruses, or weed seeds while providing you with loads of upcycled soil.
If you have time and the sun and heat on your side, temporarily laying a sheet of black plastic over the entire planting area for a few days will smother and cook the weeds and their seeds enough to kill them outright. This can take a week or two. If you don’t have the time to wait, then apply a pre-emergent treatment that prevents the weeds from germinating at the time of planting your rooted plants. Do not use this method if you are planting seeds - pre-emergents are non-discriminate.
“Pull When Wet. Hoe When Dry”
Small, herbaceous weeds can be left on the surface of the soil to dry out in the sun without any worry they’ll have a chance to reroot and grow again, especially if it is a hot dry day. Larger weeds and more invasive varieties should be removed entirely from the area, sometimes even with as much dirt still clinging to the roots as possible. Just so none of their adventitious roots can regrow.
Apply and maintain a nice 3-4 inch layer of arborist mulch of almost any kind to suppress weed growth around all of your plants (in addition to its numerous other benefits!). Most weed seeds only germinate when they are in the top couple of inches of soil, and others yet only if exposed to sunlight; so ensuring they stay deep and stay dark is half the battle!
After a heavy rain, the ground is soft and weed roots pop right out of the ground easily. During hot dry days, it's better to shave them off at soil level with a hoe and leave the roots and tops to dry up.
Small patches and single weeds can be easily get taken care of by hand, but larger patches of weeds can be mass removed when young with a hoe or weeder to get around your other plants in tight spots. Carefully work around these plants, without damaging their roots. Be mindful that you do not dig too deeply into the soil and bring new, dormant weed seeds to the surface.
Keep larger patches of weeds mown down close to the ground so they can’t go to seed until you can remove them at the roots permanently.
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Don’t let bare ground stay unattended for long since it’s a welcome mat for weed seeds. If you don’t fill it - Ma Nature certainly will!
Fill it with 3-4” of mulch or a cover crop to help further keep weeds at bay. Planting groundcover plants are a more permanent solution too! You can also plant ahead by knowing the mature width of your perennials and shrubs and plant them so they grow to touch. Just don’t over-crowd your planting beds or you’ll risk foliar diseases and competition.
While a few weeds in the back corners and out-of-the-way areas aren’t bad and help create habitat for beneficial insects and give native plants a place to call home.
Allowing anything - weed or landscaping plant - to grow out of bounds will quickly turn your garden into a hot mess.
Commit to a schedule and stay on top of your weeding plan at least 2-3 times a week. Remove any weeds that are bold enough to still show their faces after all your hard work.
Stay on top of weeds and stop them in their tracks while they’re still small with the help of NatureHills.com!
Alien-looking, long, slender bugs with ever-watching eyes, the Praying Mantis is a truly unique and absolutely voracious beneficial insect with a fearless attitude!
The word Mantis in Greek means “prophet” or “seer” and they’ve been kept as pets and raised by enthusiasts around the world. Revered as messengers passing along some spiritual secrets, Mantis have long been associated with the belief it's time to pause, relax and reflect on our surroundings.
Chinese philosophy compares them to courageous and fearless warriors with a unique fighting style - both fast, camouflaged, and fluid. In western philosophy, the way Mantis hold their front legs up as if in prayer has led to their namesake and given rise to religious symbolism as divine messengers and wake-up calls.
Around the world, Mantis symbolize stillness, contemplation, calm, patience, mindfulness and awareness, but also creativity, balance and intuition. Reminding you that all good things come to those who wait. They’re great to have around your Meditation and Zen gardens!
All About Mantis
Mantises are a large family of insects with an insanely wide range of sizes, and colors. They live worldwide in a variety of temperate to tropical climates! Out of the 2,400 species, they are part of a handful of bugs with raptorial forelegs that grasp and hold prey. They are one of fewer that can swivel their heads 180 degrees!
Those bulbous compound eyes and triangular heads always keep an eye on you and their next meal! They can also keep an eye out for bats which are their largest predator.
Can see up to 60 feet and see in 3-D!
Turn their heads 180 degrees (other bugs can’t do that)
Move in a stealthy method of swaying and rocking to avoid detection
Some Mantis have a type of echolocation like bats (to avoid being eaten by them)
Use cryptic mimicry to camouflage themselves
They can rear up and spread their wings with false eye spots to look scary
Some species can hiss when threatened
Eating anything they can catch - even each other
They are very agile and can jump well and jump fast
Can lay 100-400 hundred eggs
They have a third (sometimes fourth), more primitive eye (ocellis) on their forehead
The State insect of South Carolina
Enthusiasts keep Mantis as pets!
Their eardrum is located on the belly between their four hind legs!
Fantastic pest control and very beneficial (though they do eat everything and anything), larger species in other areas of the world have been seen eating frogs, lizards, birds and snakes! Those with Hummingbird feeders even need to keep an eye out for an overly confident Mantis! I’ve personally seen one pluck a paper wasp straight out of the air and devour it in seconds, discarding the fiddly legs and wings like a picky eater! She then cleaned her legs like a satisfied cat, all the while looking at me like I was next.
Known for ambush hunting styles, the female's weird cannibalism dating style, and a unique method of moving without being noticed, which involves rocking and swaying, to look like nothing more than any other swaying leaf or stem in the breeze.
They have the unique ability to camouflage themselves with their surroundings - taking on the exact color, texture, and shape of flowers, leaves, sticks, moss, bark, lichens, and anything else they find themselves living around. They simply molt and seem to blend in seamlessly, mimicking their surroundings! Holding absolutely still for hours to ambush their prey!
They’re like little garden ninjas!
Types of Mantis
While here in the US, we have the Chinese, European, and native species of Carolina and Agile Mantis. Other species typically found throughout North America, but aren’t necessarily native are -
Minor Ground Mantids
Little Yucatan Mantis
Slim Mexican Mantis
Arizona Unicorn Mantis
Large Florida Mantis
Yersin’s Grund and Horned Ground Mantis
There is also a slew of niche Mantids around the world! Check out these varieties next time you are browsing around the internet -
Malaysian Orchid Mantis - Colorful and match specific orchids
Flower and Spiny Flower Mantis - Look identical to the flower they hunt on
Dragon Mantis of Brazil
Ghost Mantis - Leaf-like bodies
Wandering Violin Mantis - Pronounced Violin shaped abdomen
Unicorn Mantis or Conehead Mantis - Elongated slender heads & ‘headdresses’
Giant Asian Mantis
Shield Mantis - Wide flat bodies to look exactly like leaves
Dead Leaf Mantis - Looks like, you guessed it, a dead leaf on the forest floor
The Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) is the native species here in the states. Growing to about 2-3 inches and are long and slender. Typically tan or brown, sometimes green, and even mottled gray (I’ve seen bright yellow ones!). One species native to the southwest United States and Southern Canada is the Agile Ground Mantis.
There are non-native European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) that have been naturalized here in the states as well and can grow about 3 inches long. They look very similar to the Carolina Mantis and have similar traits and diets. They often have a dot under their bodies between their legs.
Another larger species, up to 5 inches long, is the Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) which are almost similar in color and form.
Females are always larger than males and both can molt to have wings when they’re older. Females create a foamy mass, secreted from their abdomens, to lay hundreds of eggs into this foam. It then hardens into a protective cocoon called ootheca.
This ootheca can be long and slender with evenly spaced ridges and lay flat along a surface, or they can be round and thicker and attached to plant stems. You’ll find these hanging from branches, leaves, or adhered to fencing and your home's siding. The nymphs hatch out of this nest in the spring. Be careful while doing garden cleanup not to accidentally dispose of next year's garden Kung Fu warriors.
Attracting Praying Mantis to your Garden!
The best method of attracting and keeping Mantis in your garden is simple! Grow organically and plant native species!
Pesticides can wreak havoc on Mantis bodies as much as these chemicals can on the insects you are trying to kill. Choose spot treatments and organic means of control instead of carpet bombing the entire area and indiscriminately killing everything. Not only will you kill your Mantis, but also your bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, plus all the food for your Mantis in one fell swoop.
Beyond that, Praying Mantis just seem to pop up in any garden location with ample shade and cover, regular moisture, and places to hide. They do prefer to be around flowering plants and vegetable gardens. They also seem to enjoy plants in the Rose and Raspberry family, because these plants attract many insects for them to eat!
Want a fun activity with the kids (or for your own enjoyment)? Next time you are in the garden in early spring and happen upon a Mantis cocoon - drop it in a jar with very small holes in the lid, or a fine mesh screen, and keep it in a protected area you can watch daily. By mid-spring, the nymphs will hatch and you’ll be able to release hundreds of baby Mantis into your garden! (Just be sure to watch it carefully and check back twice a day.)
In a hurry to have Mantis in your garden? You can even buy Mantis egg cases and tuck them into your garden for free pest control! Or keep them as pets! They rarely bite even when handled but have been known to give you a good nip when you get too rough.
Great Garden Ninjas!
Like, little martial artists, Mantis are as fast as lightning, as agile as a cat, can hide in plain sight, and attack from the shadows!
So next time you see one of these curious insects looking at you like you’re the blue plate special, stop and take a moment to relax, and hear their message of peace and tranquility in the garden! Then let them be as they saunter through your garden eating what’s bugging you most!
Appreciate Praying Mantis and other beneficial insects and welcome them into your garden with the help of NatureHills.com!