trees

WHAT’S NEW FOR TREES

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What’s NEW for Trees

The number of new varieties of plants coming on the market is literally exploding!! We struggle to keep up with all of the new options. Growers are propagating new varieties of old favorites that are now more disease resistant, less finicky about watering, grow faster, bloom longer, have more vibrant colors, and are dwarf versions of the parent plants.

At Natural Plus we carry a large collection of some of these newer varieties, as well as the “old favorites”.  Here are a few of the newer varieties that might interest you:

 Shade/Larger Trees:

ElmsElms are back! The elms that survived Dutch Elm Disease have now been propagated and are resistant to Dutch Elm Disease. Elms have a beautiful upright vase shape and would add a nice option to your yard.

Maples– Some maples are selected for fast growth, some for vibrant fall colors, etc. Many of these have now been crossed and have both characteristics. Some newer varieties of maples include:

Autumn Blaze: A cross between a silver and red maple. Upright growth. Vibrant red fall color. Fast growing but not as sturdy as hard maples.

Brandywine: A cross between October Glory and Autumn Flame. A small seedless maple (25’). Outstanding fall color from red to red/purple.

Burgundy Belle: Oval shape. Grows to 45’. Fall color brilliant red changing to intense burgundy.

Fall Fiesta Sugar Maple: Leathery green leaves, resistant to sun scald and frost cracks. 50-75’. Fall color oranges and reds.

Red Sunset:  2000 Tree of the Year, A Rubrum Maple, upright, brilliant red fall color, grows 50’

Magnolias – We are offering some varieties this spring that are hardy for our zone:

Royal Star: Small tree 10-15’, Small white fragrant blooms spring

Gold Star: Grows 20-30’, Light yellow flowers spring

Sunburst: Grows 30’, Lemon yellow flowers spring

Crab trees add spring color to your landscape

Crab trees add spring color to your landscape

Smaller/Dwarf Trees:

 For people with small spaces, there is now a wider selection of dwarf trees.

Crabs are now resistant to Cedar Apple Rust (which caused the trees to lose their leaves mid-summer). The apples are very small and will be cleaned by birds.  Some newer selections of crabs include :

Camelot: A very small crab with blossoms changing from red buds to pink to white, very small berries, grows 10’

Prairie Fire: One of the deepest pink/red blooms, small berries, 15-20’

Royal Raindrops: Burgandy red foliage with deep pink blossoms, grows 20’

 Tree Hydrangeas : These are basically a hydrangea bush on a stem and grow only 8-12’ tall! We carry several varieties including:

Limelight: Lime green/white large blooms in summer, grows 8’

Quick Fire: Large white blooms turning deep pink/red, grows 6-8’

Vanilla Strawberry: Large white blooms turning pink, grows 6-8’

Tree Lilacs: These are basically a Dwarf Korean Lilac or a Miss Kim Lilac on a stem. These will bloom in early June and the fragrance will fill your entire yard.  Grow 5-6’.

Read more about what we recommend for SPRING FLOWERING TREES.  

Pruning Evergreens and Boxwoods

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Pruning evergreens and Boxwoods

I hope you have enjoyed some of our other articles on pruning (click the title below to view the other articles!)

Today’s topic is all about pruning your evergreens (shrubs and trees) and your boxwoods.

Evergreen shrubs and Boxwoods

A few of the varieties of evergreen shrubs require little or no pruning.

Some of these include Hetz Midget and Danica Arborvitae, Blue Star Junipers, and Dwarf Japanese Garden Junipers.

Most other evergreen shrubs will benefit from trimming. These would include plants such as Boxwoods, Yews, Mint Julep Junipers, Mugo Pines, upright evergreens, and many others. 

Generally trim once or twice a year in early spring and/or in early fall. Trim just to shape the plant. Do not do extreme pruning.

If evergreen plants have become very overgrown, you may have to trim severely to get them back in to a good shape. However, they may not look good for a season or two. Avoid this problem by trimming once or twice a year.

Evergreen Trees

Young evergreen trees can be trimmed to help shape them. Trimming will also cause them to be more full and dense.

Check the leader (top branch ) of the tree. If there are 2 main leaders, trim out the weakest of the 2. This will allow 1 strong leader to take over.

Generally the best time to trim evergreen trees is just after the new growth, or the “candle” has emerged (usually early June). Trim off about ½ of each candle. You may also trim as needed to shape the tree.

ADDING FRAGRANT PLANTS TO YOUR LANDSCAPE

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Most of us are familiar with the wonderful sweet fragrance of an old fashioned lilac in the spring. A gentle breeze carries the fragrance through out a whole neighborhood.

 Would you like to add some other varieties of plants that add fragrance to your yard?

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Here are some Natural Plus favorites:

Trees:

All fruit trees (apples, pears, cherries, plums) have a wonderful fragrance in the spring when blooming. Plums are especially fragrant. 

Some other ornamental trees that give a sweet fragrance in spring when in bloom are flowering crabs, serviceberries, hawthorns, Japanese tree lilacs, fringe trees, and dwarf Korean tree lilacs.

Lindens are an upright pyramidal shaped shade tree with a heart shaped leaf. In June they produce very small yellow blooms that are barely visible unless you get up close to the tree. However, those blooms are very fragrant and you may be able to smell them from a half a block away.

 Shrubs:

Many shrubs are fragrant when in bloom. Some you may want to consider are: lilacs, (bloomerang lilacs rebloom to give a second set of fragrant blossoms mid-summer), mockorange (dwarf and standard size), snowberry, and elderberries.

Roses may or may not be fragrant. Newer hybridized varieties often have beautiful bloom colors and are more disease resistant, but have little fragrance. Older varieties such as rugosa roses bring back memories of fragrant rose gardens. One of our favorites is Purple Pavement.

 Perennials:

Most people are aware of the fragrance of peonies – a sturdy perennial that goes back generations. At Natural Plus we have a row of peonies that are over 50 years old and still produce hearty blooms every year.

Some other perennials that will add fragrance to your yard include:

Garden phlox (come in many colors), lavender (there is now a variety hardy for zone 4), iris, hyssop, astilbe, dianthus, most coneflowers, helleborus, bee balm, and sweet autumn clematis.  

Bulbs and Woodland Plants

Hyacinths (bulbs) and Lily of the Valley are spring bloomers that are particularly fragrant.

PLANTING TO ATTRACT BIRDS

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There is nothing more delightful than seeing the spring and fall migration of birds, a robin’s nest with blue eggs, the bright yellow color of goldfinch, or the bright blue of an indigo bunting.

There are some things you can do to attract these beautiful birds to your yard.

Birds have 3 basic needs to survive – habitat, food, and water. With farm fields becoming bigger and bigger it is more important than ever that farmsteads, farm windbreaks, and urban homes provide these basic needs.  No matter where they are, any trees, shrubs, or perennials that you plant are good for birds. Adding a source of water is also helpful to attract birds.  

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Evergreens are especially important for winter habitat. Eastern Red Cedars are native to Iowa. Many other evergreens such as junipers and yews also provide habitat and berries for winter food.

All shade trees provide habitat and shelter. Many of the smaller ornamental trees are excellent sources of berries. During the fall migration cedar wax wings especially like berries from serviceberries. Other ornamental trees that provide berries include crabapples, hawthorns, mountain ash, and fruit trees –especially cherries.

There are many shrubs that also provide berries. Some of these include viburnum, dogwood, elderberry, coralberry, aronia, and cotoneaster.  There are many varieties of viburnums. One of our favorites is called “Blue Muffin”. These grow about 5-7 feet tall and have beautiful clusters of bright blue berries. Aronia (Chokeberry) produce an edible berry which is considered an antioxidant. These can be harvested and made into jams and other products if you can beat the birds to the berries.

Perennials can also provide habitat and food sources. Hummingbirds,  warblers and other varieties of birds enjoy both blossoms and seeds. Planting natives is always a good idea.

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Anything you plant will encourage birds to your yard. Add a water source and your yard will become a favorite stopping spot for them.  As always, be mindful of sprays, pesticides, and herbicides and avoid these as much as possible