THE BLOG: let's talk gardening


The Perfect Houseplant ~ Clivia

This beautiful and exotic winter bloomer has deep orange flowers emanating from sunshine-yellow centers. A member of the amaryllis family, this evergreen boosts deep green, strap-like leaves that arch 2-3 feet above the crown. These arched leaves provide graceful structure making Clivia an attractive foliage plant, even when it's not in bloom. Elegant and striking, it’s easier to grow than an orchid and more unusual than an amaryllis. Clivia, also known as a Kaffir Lily, has a well-earned reputation as a rugged houseplant that demands very little attention. It grows best in bright, daylight, but not direct sunlight. Clivia prefers to be kept on the dry side. This long lived houseplant forms a clump and will produce several flower spikes each winter. Add this tried & trued houseplant to your home today!

{ Happy Gardening! Posted by McDonald Garden Center, January 31, 2012 }


Instant Decor for your Floor!

Do you have a wall or a corner in your home that looks bare? Our wide selection of large floor plants are the perfect decorating solution.

Floor plants are a instant and inexpensive way to add style and a little touch of green to any interior space. Decorating doesn't always require a nail or a can of paint. Sometimes, just a touch of nature is all you need to bring a room to life. Visit any McDonald Garden Center to see our large selection of beautiful floor plants. Choose from Palms, Corn Plant Dracaena, Schefflera Alpine Junior, and Ficus trees and many more!

{ Happy Gardening! Posted by McDonald Garden Center, January 27, 2012 }


Winter's Captivating Bloom


Hellebores are truly winter's most captivating bloom. They are evergreens, meaning they will keep their leaves year round. But, it's their beautiful, showy flowers that really steal the show! Hellebores produce flowers at a time when nothing else seems to be blooming... in winter. This year, everyone is talking about the new Rosemary Hellebore that produces rose pink buds that open to a pale pink saucer shaped flower. They start blooming very early in the winter season and as they mature, their color gets richer and becomes a nice rosey pink.

Caring for Hellebores requires planting in a rich, fairly moist soil that drains well. Hellebores do not like to be disturbed or moved, so it's best to find a good location and plant them permanently in one spot. In the early winter, the older foliage turns brown. When this happens, we recommend simply trimming away the old foliage to keep the plants looking its best.

Hellebores mix well with all kinds of spring-flowering bulbs, as well as shade-loving perennials like hostas, ferns and even columbines. They even looked great planted beneath a shade tree or mixed with deciduous shrubs and ornamentals. They are even deer resistant for an added benefit.

This beauty will add surprise and delight to your garden all year long!


Celebrate the Chinese New Year

Today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. Prosperity, success, health, wealth, abundance, harmony, peace, joy and luck are just some of the meaningful and positive words exchanged among relatives, friends and business partners during the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, it is customary to give flowers and plants for their symbolic meanings, as gifts during this time, to wish one well.

The Pitcher Plant is an excellent way to celebrate the Chinese New Year. These unique, trailing houseplants are considered to bring good luck. In Cantonese, Pitcher Plants translate as “water pouring into a pig’s cage.” Water is symbolic of wealth, and traditionally, a pig’s cage has a big opening which welcomes the wealth. In short, the plant symbolizes the abundance of wealth for years to come. It is said that the more "pitchers" your plant has, the more luck and fortune you are likely to accumulate. Pitcher Plants require filtered sunshine for at least 6 hours daily for successful growth. And, be sure to keep water in each pitcher so they do not dry up. Here's to a prosperous year full of good luck and fortune!

{ Happy Gardening! Posted by McDonald Garden Center, January 23, 2012 }


Tweet Tweet!

Bird watching is one of America's fastest-growing hobbies, and backyard bird feeding is a convenient way to enjoy these fine-feathered friends. Surveys reveal that nearly half the households in the United States provide food for wild birds.

What has made watching birds the fastest growing hobby in the country second only to gardening?

The attraction is obvious - feeding birds brings them closer, so we can see them more easily. Their colorful and entertaining presence is fascinating to observe, especially through the long, dreary days of winter. Setting up a backyard bird feeder can make birds' lives easier too. Winter is a difficult time for birds, and finding food can be especially challenging during periods of extreme cold.

What should you serve your bird visitors for dinner? If you want to attract many different species of birds, you need to offer a variety of foods.

In most areas, black-oil sunflower seed tends to attract the greatest variety of birds. It has a high meat-to-shell ratio and a high fat content. Since it is small and thin-shelled, it is easy for small birds, like the Tufted Titmouse, to handle and crack. Striped sunflower seeds, which are larger, have thicker seed coats.

Although sunflower seeds are the all-round favorite, especially for tree-dwelling birds, some birds prefer other types of food. Blackbirds enjoy corn, whereas many ground-feeding birds, like doves, prefer white millet or red milo.

Be wary of commercial seed mixes. They are often a mixture of sunflower seeds plus a high proportion of less appealing "fillers" such as millet, oats, wheat, flax, buckwheat seeds, and red milo. Birds tend to pick out the prized sunflower seeds and leave the rest. Instead, try making your own birdseed mix. Pour about 25 pounds of black-oil sunflower seed, 10-pounds of white proso millet, and 10 pounds of cracked corn into a clean trash can. Use a broom handle to mix it up.
Be sure to store your bird food carefully. Keep seed in a dry, cool place, in a rodent-proof, metal can. Be sure to check the seed often for mold, and throw out any seed that is questionable.

{ Happy Gardening! Posted by McDonald Garden Center, January 20, 2012 }



Herbs de Provence - Lavendar


Because of its sweet, pure scent and lovely violet blooms, Provence Lavender is famous worldwide and used in perfumes, crafts and cooking. This particular lavender is one of the most fragrant herbs and is easy to grow as long as it has good drainage and lots of sunshine. Provence Lavender thrives in dry climates, so over watering is a concern.

Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavor to most dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep's-milk and goat's-milk cheeses. For most cooking applications the dried buds (also referred to as flowers) are used, though some chefs experiment with the leaves as well. Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, from which the scent and flavor of lavender are best derived. Provence is the most used lavender variety for culinary uses and is a well known ingredient in Herbs De Provence. In the United States, both lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used to make lavender scones and marshmallows.


Houseplants for Clean Air

In this age of technology, we all need to stay in touch with nature. Houseplants help fulfill this, as well as adding attractiveness to the décor in our indoor surroundings. Even more importantly, the ordinary houseplants may be one of the best solutions to help improve your indoor air. The plants listed below have been found to filter certain pollutants from indoor livings spaces according to studies at the National Space Technologies.

• Spider Plants
• Peace Lily
• Golden Pothos
• Chinese Evergreen

These air cleaning plant varieties appear to have two things in common ~ they all require relatively low light and they do not bear flowers. As home insulation has been improved to help save on winter heating costs, concern over indoor pollution is becoming more important. Plants using tiny leaf openings called stomato cleanse the indoor air found in ordinary households. According to studies, when a spider plant was placed in a sealed chamber, the concentration of formaldehyde (emitted naturally by plastics and building materials) had an 85% reduction from the starting level after only 24 hours. Houseplants already plant an important role in our lives, but perhaps we are just beginning to really appreciate how important they really are!

{ Happy Gardening! Posted by McDonald Garden Center, January 16, 2012 }


Find Your Inner Zen

The word ‘Bon-sai’ is Japanese and literally translated it means ‘planted in a container’. As a Japanese art form it is deeply rooted in Zen Buddhism and has existed for thousands of years. The ultimate goal of growing a Bonsai tree is to create a miniaturized but realistic depiction of nature, using techniques such as pruning and wiring. Bonsai are not genetically dwarfed plants, in fact, any tree species can be used.

Bonsai can be a fascinating hobby or a collection of art. It is important that indoor Bonsai receive levels of light and water that the individual variety of plant requires. For example, both ficus and jade prefer high light, but jade needs far less water than ficus. Careful top watering or soaking the pot in tepid water both work well. Use liquid houseplant fertilizer once or twice a month. Frequent pruning is necessary to maintain shape. Root pruning may be necessary once or twice a year. With proper care, your Bonsai will remain healthy and beautiful for many years to come. McDonald has a wide selection of Bonsai plants and pots to help you get started. Find your inner zen today!

If you are interested in learning more, visit the Virginia Bonsai Society’s website below and attend one of their meetings at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

{ Happy Gardening! Posted by McDonald Garden Center, January 13, 2012 }



Chase away the Winter Blues with PINK!


Every winter gardener craves color, flowers, green leaves and yes, of course, spring! There's no better way to get these things than with blooming houseplants. They can add a much needed splash of color to your home or office space during those long, drab winter months.

So, if you are looking for a houseplant to brighten up your indoor space, consider Euphorbia Pink Cadillac. Also known as Crown of Thorns, this plant has an exotic and cheerful appearance and if put in the right spot - it will bloom all year long! This houseplant is best grown in a sunny location, and don't be afraid to put Euphorbia under direct sunlight. The more sun it gets – the brighter its flower’s color will be! During periods of active growth, water when the soil surface becomes dry to the touch. Ideal temperatures for these blooms are 62 to 65 degrees at night, and 80 to 85 degrees during the day. The plant may be kept cooler during the winter. Brighten up your winter blues with this easy to grow tropical beauty!



Plant Now, Enjoy Later

Plant your landscape now so you can sit back and enjoy it in the spring! When it is cold and dreary, you are probably not thinking how you will use your outdoor space, deck and yard in the spring and summer. However, our designers are busy preparing ideas to make the most out of your outdoor space now. Put those dreams into action so that you can have the perfect place to gather this spring. Whether it be adding a firepit, repaving a walkway or adding a new bed to your landscape, if you act now then all the mess will be gone and the plants will be ready to grow and you will have instant look as soon as the warm weather hits.

Most do not realize this, but now is a great time to plant trees & shrubs as it gives them plenty of time to get established before the heat of the summer sets in. By the time spring arrives and the plants or lawn “wake up”, they are well established and familiar with their surroundings. And, by the time summer arrives they are prepared for the stress that season can bring to the landscape. Remember, spring is just around the corner!

Best of all, if you book a landscape job by February 29 you will get 15% off.

To schedule an appointment and discuss your project with one of our Landscape Designers, or to learn more about our services, please call:

757.722.3125 (ext. 312) Peninsula
757.421.9405 Southside
Or email us at

{ Happy Gardening! Posted by McDonald Garden Center, January 10, 2012 }

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