THE BLOG: let's talk gardening

FEBRUARY
26
2014

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A Bird’s Eye View on a Unique Fern

BIRD'S NEST FERN

It’s always been said that birds of a feather flock together, but the Bird’s Nest Fern looks unlike any other fern in the plant world. Bird’s Nest features long, ruffled, leathery, apple-green fronds. The wide rippled leaves emerge from an inner rosette that looks like a fuzzy brown funnel. When new fronds first appear, they resemble little birds eggs, thus dubbed the Bird’s Nest Fern. Healthy plants can have fronds up to three feet, but this is rare in most indoor situations. This plant is gorgeous addition indoors, in rock gardens or on porches and patios.

Bird’s Nest is a beautiful plant, but does require a bit of pampering in order to reach its full potential. When used as a houseplant, be sure to place in an area that receives filtered or shady light. And remember, Bird’s Nest is a true jungle plant, so keep soil moist and provide the highest humidity possible (this can be accomplished by misting). Never allow the soil to become dry to the touch; however, take care not to allow the plant to sit in water. Cut back on the frequency of watering in the winter during the plant’s dormant period. Bird’s Nest is a real ‘tweet’ both inside and out!

FEBRUARY
25
2014

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Stay Ahead of the Weeds

While it's way more fun to think about the blooms and lush lawns that spring brings... it’s never too soon to start thinking about those weeds that creep in. By starting early, you can prevent weeds from germinating in your yard this spring and keep your outdoor space in tip-top shape.

The two most important things you can do for your established lawn is to apply the following:

PRE EMERGENT
A pre emergent will prevent weeds and unwanted grasses that will germinate when the weather gets warms. This is a granular that you spread and we recommend using this with a little water to activate it.

POST EMERGENT
A post emergent will rid your lawn of cool season weeds that are actively growing and getting ready to lay seed. This is a liquid that you spray in between mowings. Best conditions for this weed killer are sunny dry conditions. And, a major benefit is that you can use this weed killer right now when temperatures are low.

Our Early Spring Weed Control Kit gives you complete weed control. We recommend starting this process now through early spring for best results. Each kit contains Hi-Yield Turf & Ornamental Weed and Grass Stopper and Ferti-lome Weed Free Zone. Hi-Yield can be used on Fescue lawns, as well as, warm season lawns such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia and Centipede. This will provide weed and unwanted grass control for up to four months. An added benefit of this product is that it can be applied to your beds. Ferti-lome will provide quick control for cool season weeds such as Henbit, Chickweed and clover that are present in lawns this time of the year. Unlike most weed control products, it works during the cool weather. This kit is designed for a 5000 square foot lawn. We recommend using one bag of the Hi-Yield now and in 2-3 months you may you apply the second bag to prevent weeds through the summer.

FEBRUARY
21
2014

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Start from Seeds

When starting seeds indoors, the goal is to have hearty seedlings by the time it's warm enough to plant outdoors. Here's some tips to get started:

Choosing the Right Container
You can start seeds in almost any kind of container that will hold 1 to 2 inches of starting medium and has holes for drainage.

Seed-Starting and Potting Mixes
Seeds contain enough nutrients to nourish themselves through sprouting, so a seed-starting mix does not have to contain nutrients. It should be free of weed seeds, retain moisture, and provide plenty of air spaces. We recommend using a seed starting mix or McDonald All Purpose Potting Soil.

Sowing Seeds
The package instructions will give you details for spacing, however, here are a few rules of thumb:

  • Space large seeds at least 1 inch apart, planting 2 or 3 seeds in each pot (snip off the weaker seedlings later).
  • Plant medium-sized seeds ½ to 1 inch apart, and tiny seeds about ½ inch apart.
  • If you’re sowing only a few seeds, use your fingertips or tweezers to place them precisely.
  • Cover the seeds to a depth of three times their thickness by carefully sprinkling them with light, dry potting soil or seed-starting medium.
  • Be sure to label the seeds so that you know what you have planted.

Timetable
Each packet of seeds will offer a germination time frame and that is the how long it will take the seeds to sprout. The packet will also recommend a time frame when planting the seeds indoors. Remember, here in Hampton Roads, the average last frost date is April 15 and you shouldn’t plant tender seedlings outdoors until after that date.

If you have any questions on this process, please see one of our experts at any McDonald Garden Center.

FEBRUARY
20
2014

We’re Dreaming of… Tomatoes

OLD VIRGINIA TOMATOES

Yes, will admit we’re tomato obsessed. And, even though it’s freezing cold outside and it’s still a few months before you’ll start your seed, you’re probably already dreaming about those red, juicy tomatoes and wondering which ones you’ll grow this season. No matter what the variety — plum, beefsteak, heirloom or grape — tomatoes are perfect for sprucing up a main dish, tossed in salads or simply eaten fresh off the vine! Here’s one tomato you’ll want to add to your garden this season:

Tomato Old Virginia Red – This heirloom from the Giltner family is old time sweet/ tart tomato. With dark red, smooth fruits this tomato has very few seeds. The 5-6 ft tall plants produce even in a long hot summer. This tomato has good yields and flavor.

FEBRUARY
17
2014

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Local Seed for Local Gardeners

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE SEED EXCHANGE

NEW at the Garden Center, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers an assorted variety of vegetable, flower, herb, and grain seeds. Emphasizing varieties that perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and southeast, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is the perfect choice for seeds in Hampton Roads. Plus, they are GMO free and have agreed to the Safe Seed Pledge - meaning that they pledge to not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.

Starting in 1982, Southern Exposure is located in the rolling hills of central Virginia, between Richmond and Charlottesville, not far from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. With a 72-acre farm they have goats, chickens, hay fields, an herb garden, and extensive vegetable gardens for seed production, trialing, and eating.

Try some of our top picks of seeds this spring:

Tomato Old Virginia Red – This heirloom from the Giltner family is old time sweet/ tart tomato. With dark red, smooth fruits this tomato has very few seeds. The 5-6 ft tall plants produce even in a long hot summer. This tomato has good yields and flavor.

Sunflower Beach – This attractive wild sunflower is multi-branched and will grow with dozens of 2-4 inch yellow flowers on long stems. The leaves are similar to cucumbers with a lighter green and ragged edge. Extremely vigorous and drought tolerant this summer stellar will keep blooming for up to 3 months.

Thumblina Zinnia – this dwarf zinnia stands about 6-8 inches tall. With bright colored flowers in all the colors of summer (pink, red, and yellow) this gorgeous bloom will over color all season here in Virginia.

Also shop from these other varieties:

  • Arugula
  • Basil Bolloro Napoletano
  • Basil Genovese Sweet
  • Basil Mammoth
  • Cilantro
  • Fennel Florence
  • Hyssop
  • Mint
  • Beet Bulls Blood
  • Broccoli Green Goliath
  • Carrot Scarlet Nantes
  • Leek American Flag
  • Pea Southern Calico Crowder
  • Tomato Sugar Cherry
  • Turnip Purple Top White Glove
  • Watermelon Sugar Baby
  • Cosmos Bright Lights Orange
FEBRUARY
12
2014

Heat Things Up

RED RENDEZVOUS, Wilsonara Spacemine Orchid

Heat things up this Valentine’s Day with our new Red Rendezvous orchid. Everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is for chocolates, cards, and of course... flowers. Red roses are traditional and a popular symbol of this day, but how about sending something more unique on this special day? Give a growing Valentine. Give a Red Rendezvous. They'll adore this flower featuring loads of vivid red, star-shaped blooms with an unusual apricot center. Rendezvous is easy to grow with blooms that last for months, so consider giving this cupid-approved beauty this year.

FEBRUARY
10
2014

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Better than chocolates

PHALAEONOPSIS ORCHIDS, (Moth Orchids)

Valentine's Day is one of the most celebrated holidays and throughout history, it has been celebrated with romantic traditions including cards, candy, and gifts that convey love and appreciation. So, if those diamond studs are not in your budget this year, consider the orchid.

There is a special grace to the long, arching stem of the orchid. Phalaeonopsis, also known as Moth Orchids, are some of the least expensive and longest-blooming orchids available ranging in colors from whites to pinks. One bloom spike can look great for four months.

Love the style, grace and beauty of orchids but afraid they look too complicated to care for? Never fear. Phalaeonopsis are surprisingly easy to grow and in the right setup at home they can be extremely low maintenance. These orchids prefer bright indirect light. Leaves bronze and may burn if the light is too bright. Let dry slightly between waterings and use rain water as much as possible. We recommend placing your orchid on a tray over moistened pebbles for increased humidity. Promote more and larger blooms by feeding moth orchids one quarter to one half dilution with each watering using a fertilizer formulated specifically for orchids. Best at 60˚F nights and 70˚F days (will take 55˚F - 95˚F).

FEBRUARY
7
2014

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Succulents…Who Knew?

CREATIVE WAYS TO USE SUCCULENTS

What plant is easy to grow, hard to kill, and can be planted just about anywhere? Succulents! These plants may possibly be one of the most versatile on the globe and they have certainly gained popularity recently. We are seeing them used just about everywhere. Because they have shallow roots, they can survive without a great deal of water or care and thrive in drought-like conditions. Succulents also have a variety of pleasing shapes and colors, and look good whether they have blooms or not! Not only are they amazing in the garden, but lately succulents have moved to center stage and are being used in a multitude of ways both inside and out. And, many people are using them in all sorts of way; as table arrangements, living sculptures, as cut flowers – the skies the limit when it comes to using succulents. Take advantage of these unique garden characters and challenge yourself to come up with new ways to display your succulents around the house. Whether you combine a few succulents together in a pot or arrange succulents to form a pattern in a vertical garden, they certain to add a burst of color and a little drama to your house and garden. Here are a few unique ideas for using succulents:

LIVING WREATHS
Succulent wreaths are a gorgeous addition to any home or outdoor living space. And, because succulents roots so easily, they are ideal for creating an easy to care for wreath. Simply lay them in place and in a few weeks, they will root into the soil or medium. Try using various shapes and shades of green succulents to create an interesting textured wreath that will continue to change and fill out as the plants become more established. Display wreaths on a door, as a centerpiece, or hang it on an interior wall – the options are endless! Succulent wreaths will thrive in a sunny indoor location or a partially shaded outdoor spot. And best of all, succulents require minimal watering to keep it growing!

CONTAINERS
Succulents are striking on their own but arranging them in groups or by introducing a colorful variety will surly up the wow factor in your home and garden. Experiment with these garden gems by adding a succulent container to a balcony, deck or patio. And don't fret, you don't have to live in a warm climate to utilize outdoors - there are plenty of cold hardy varieties that will weather the winter. Just be sure to ask which varieties are best suited for outdoor use in the Hampton Roads area. Or, plant the tender succulents in a container that you can bring indoors during those cold winter months.

TABLE ARRANGEMENTS
Succulents have become the hot new trend in table arrangements for both indoors and out. Whether you mix it with classic decor to add a touch of modern or incorporate it into your outdoor space to create a rustic feel, these living arrangements have a number of advantages. Succulents don't wither in the sun, cause allergies, or have to be thrown out, unlike cut flowers.

WEDDINGS
The succulent craze is fast becoming one of hottest trends in wedding decor! Succulents come in a vast assortment of shapes and colors from greens to dusty blues to serene pinks and purples and even oranges. And, there are countless ways to use succulents on that special day. Incorporate succulents into the bride’s bouquet and table-top centerpieces, or use as boutonnières for groomsmen and even as garnish for the cake.

FEBRUARY
5
2014

Now Starring...

THE STARLIGHT FICUS

Go for the Starlight Ficus for a touch of natural color to your indoor space. We love this striking variegated form of the weeping fig that has simple glossy, green leaves ringed with a decorative cream band.

Ficus is commonly called Weeping Fig or simply Ficus and originates from India, Southeast Asia and Australia. These small trees grow where there are dry and wet seasons so it is natural for this tree to drop its leaves when the air may be too dry. In nature, these trees grow underneath larger trees, thus making them more tolerable of various light conditions.

Starlight prefers very bright indirect light making it an ideal houseplant for sunny indoor spaces. Keep it evenly moist, but not wet or dry. Trim as needed. Left alone, the Starlight Ficus can reach up to 6 feet tall. Remember, this easy-to-grow plant makes an ideal touch of green for the home, office, apartment, dorm or den.

Check out more of our favorite HOUSEPLANTS >>

FEBRUARY
4
2014

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Trend Alert

TRENDS WE LOVE: A look at outdoor trends for 2014.

Everyone knows that trends come and go, and this is true in the gardening world as well. Whether you’re looking to make a change in your outdoor or indoor space, or you’re just curious about what’s hot for 2014, we’ve got the inside scoop on what’s trending 2014. This year, the color Radiant Orchid is the new black, growing herbs is chic, coastal living and vintage themes are all the rage. And, blurring the line between indoors and outdoors is more apparent than ever! Get ready to see these new trends in 2014:

VINTAGE CHIC
Embrace rustic elements using zinc, teak, concrete, birch, glass, burlap and reclaimed wood. We can't get enough of these nature-inspired finishes that add a chic style to the home and garden. This spring, you'll see a lot of these materials used in pots, plant tags, indoor and outdoor decor, and other accents. Get ready for vintage chic, you're going to love it!

HERBS
Herb is the word for 2014! Grow herbs indoors and out to spice up dining and decor. Whether you're cooking, infusing oils, making perfume or just enjoying the aroma, herbs are some of the most versatile plants in the garden. They are also perfect addition to a small space garden as you can grow one or ten successfully. Create an herb garden outdoors using raised beds and containers. And, don't forget to bring these plants indoors. Not only do indoor herb gardens look great as decor, but you'll love the convenience of snipping off fresh herbs while your cooking.

COASTAL STYLE
Capture the calm and serenity of the coast. Incorporate shades of blue and coastal motifs such as coral, oyster shells, anchors, star fish and more. This theme will inspire you to incorporate the coast in your home. The options are endless from lamps to cushions to pottery and even furniture. In the past, people have reserved coastal style to waterfront home or the beach, but now we are seeing this style used everywhere. You don't have to live on the water to enjoy the feel it brings you!

INDOOR-OUTDOOR LIVING
Take the outdoors in and the indoors out. Create spaces that blend seamlessly to extend your outdoor living space. Blending indoor and outdoor spaces is a continuing trend in 2014. Try using outdoor furniture on a sunporch or in your kitchen or creating large windows that bring the outdoors in visually. Also, extend your outdoor spaces using fire pits, outdoor fireplaces with mantles and even outdoor kitchens. The possibilities are endless.

Color of the Year: RADIANT ORCHID
Prepare to see this harmonious blend of fuchsia, purple and pink everywhere this year. It is said to inspire confidence and the color represents great joy, love and heath. The purple and pink tones give us a flexible color palette to work with from pink and violet pastels to deep purples and bright fuchsias. There is certainly no lack of plants that fall into this color category, so make room for this color in your garden.

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