Container Gardening


Plants of the Week:


We love lemon so much, we couldn't select just one "plant of the week" this week... so you get TWO amazing plants! Tuck lemon plants around your house in containers this winter and enjoy their evergreen beauty, sweet fragrance and mouthwatering fruit! Once warm weather sets in, move your lemon plants outside and enjoy them all summer long. Most citrus is hardy to 38°F, but we recommend keeping them indoors until late sprint. Here's a couple of our faves for Hampton Roads:

Meyer Lemon
A cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, the Meyer lemon has a smooth golden, edible skin, and a high volume of juice but none of the bitterness of a regular lemon. This fruit adds a burst of lemon flavor without the sour bite. With a smooth, golden skin and lush, glossy leaves, this plant pulls double duty by yielding fruit and looking great. It produces small, fragrant flowers year round.

Ponderosa Lemon
A real conversation piece, the Ponderosa is a cross between lemon and citron. Sometimes called the Five Pound Lemon, the Ponderosa produces a gigantic, bumpy skinned lemon usually weighing 2-4 pounds! The flowers are intensely fragrant producing loads of huge lemons. Tasting sour like a typical lemon, the juice from one Ponderosa is enough for several pies.


Get this look!


Container gardening is a trend that continues to grow. Nearly half of American households report trying some form of container gardening. Creativity, flexibility and portability are a few of the top reasons why people have fallen in love with this form of gardening. Why not make a container that not only looks great, but deters mosquitos naturally. Try this recipe and help beat the bugs AND have a great looking planter for your deck and patio.

Here's what you need:

  • A large container
  • McDonald Natural & Organic Potting Soil
  • McDonald Greenleaf Fertilizer
  • Two 6-inch marigolds
  • One 4-inch mint
  • One 4-inch rosemary
  • One citronella geranium
  • One Quart Lemon Grass


  • To get started, fill your container with McDonald Natural & Organic Potting Soil.
  • Sprinkle a handful of McDonald Greenleaf Fertilizer over the soil.
  • Loosen plant roots slightly and gently place in the fertilized soil mix.
  • Place the lemon grass center stage and add the smaller plants around it.

McDonald TIP: Dead head the marigolds to encourage optimal blooming all summer long.


Get this look!


From succulents to blooms, create container combinations with a blend of the season's hottest plants. The secret to a great container is start with the right soil mix. We recommend using our Premium All-Purpose Potting Soil - specifically formulated for Hampton Roads. After choosing your container and soil mix, you'll need to choose a showy thriller plant to be center-stage. It should be taller than the rest and stand out. Next, tuck in filler plants around to add sparkle and depth. Finish off your planter with a spiller, a plant that will cascade along the pot’s edge. For optimum results, we always recommend our Greenleaf All-Purpose Plant Food. Like our soil, this slow-release fertilizer is also formulated specifically for this area. Try these container recipes for sun or shade:

Here's what you need:


  • Spikemoss
  • Solenia Begonias
  • Rita's Gold Fern


  • Dusty Miller
  • Crimson Star Spike
  • Geraniums
  • Bacopa

Drought-Tolerant (Sun)

  • Ascot Rainbow Euphorbia
  • Stonecrop
  • Sedum
  • Ice Plant
  • Hens & Chicks

Get this look!


This drought tolerant container will offer non stop interest all season long and for seasons to come. By using perennials in containers, you can create a style that offers more look for less bucks and returns year after year. This container recipe is easy and grows in full sun. Try this recipe.

Here's what you need:

  • Low Container
  • Natural and Organic Potting Soil
  • Sedum Dragon's Blood
  • Hens and Chicks
  • Ice Plant
  • Ascot Rainbow Euphorbia
  • Stonecrop
  • McDonald Green Leaf Fertilizer


  1. To get started, choose a low container so that the texture of the succulents will be seen. We like using this cross hatch square container, but a terra cotta bulb pan or umbrella pot would work great too.
  2. Fill the pot with potting soil about ¾ of the way full. We recommend using McDonald Natural & Organic Potting Mix. We suggest mixing a handful of McDonald Greenleaf fertilizer into the soil.
  3. We used Ascot Rainbow Euphorbia as the thriller in this container. Place towards the back of the pot to add height. Euphorbia is a tough performing perennial with unique variegated foliage.
  4. For the filler, we used Stonecrop and Hens & Chicks. By placing these asymmetrically on the sides, you can create a unique composition. Stonecrop has water storing leaves and is a vivid green. Hens and Chicks will offer a structured rosette to the container.
  5. For the spillers, we used Ice Plant and Sedums. The Ice Plant will boast small yellow blooms all through the summer and trail out of the container with its tiny succulent leaves. The Sedum we used was Dragons Blood, which offers deep red flowers in contrast with the green leaves during warm weather.

McDonald TIP: This container is a succulent garden - remember not too over water this container combo.



Color Your Containers

Since spring has officially arrived, let's get a jumpstart on our container gardens. Try these bloomers that tolerate the cooler early days of spring and get your containers if full spring. These flowers will work great in the early unpredictable days of spring and last all the way until the heat sets in, in May.

A small evergreen shrub with clusters of small flowers, Candytuft thrives in full sun areas with well-drained soil. Candytuft is great for a rock garden where they can tumble about and over rocks. They are also excellent as edging in a border and are well-suited to growing in pots.

Bush Daisy
Add a burst of sunny yellow flowers in spring with this bright bloomer. Not only will this plant give you flowers now, but it will reward you again with flowers this fall. It is very tolerant of cold and can go down to about 28 degrees, so on these cold nights that we are having now, they will handle these nights near freezing. They will not come back reliably outside over winter but they are great as container plants, on their own or in a combo. Just set them in a protected spot in winter (garage is fine) for more flowers in spring!

This perennial offers a long blooming season. They will begin in early spring and continue all the way until frost, if deadheaded regularly. Blooms stand up above the grassy blue-green foliage with sturdy stems. These bold blossoms sparkle in borders, beds, window boxes and containers. Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Available in a range of colors from coral to red to pink to even white, some Dianthus also carry a scent.

This vertical annual, offers great hues in a variety of colors. The abundant spikes of lovely flowers come red, yellow, orange, pink, white and crimson. They are excellent in beds, edging and in containers and they are popular as cut flowers too. Plant in full sun, well drained soil.

Scabiosa, Pincushion Flower
This charming perennial is easy to grow and produces loads of large blossoms. Almost frilly in their look, the blooms sit atop a long graceful stem. These are long and profuse bloomers that begin flowering in early spring and go long into summer. For repeat flowering you do need to dead head. With its compact, tidy habit, it is ideal grouped together as a border and the more you plant together the more impact they make! We love these as cut flowers and left it in the garden to attract butterflies. Scabiosa prefers full sun and well drained soil. Mariposa Violet is a double violet color but Butterfly Blue (one of the most popular) is a single bloom in a chambray color.


Container Gardening - Easy as ONE. TWO. THREE.

Looking for easy ways to add pizazz to your deck or patio? There's nothing better than a container garden to jazz things up. Just follow this classic formula for guaranteed success! First, choose a container as it will set the tone for the space. Container options are limitless, including pots, boxes, baskets, urns, hanging baskets, and window boxes... just get creative.

Once you've selected your container, start selecting the real stars of the show, the plants.

  1. THRILLER. Choose a super showy thriller plant to go center stage. It should be taller than the rest and stand out due to it's color and strong stature.

    Shade Thrillers: Ivy Topiaries • Rita's Gold Fern • Majesty Palm • Red Sister
    Sun Thrillers: Juniper Topiaries • Hibiscus Standards • Geraniums • Ornamental Grasses

  2. FILLER. Select flowers that fill in the area directly around your thriller. These will really add sparkle and depth to your planter.

    Shade Fillers: Impatiens • Green Leaf Begonias • Ferns
    Sun Fillers: Diamond Frost Euphorbia • Marigolds • Petunias • Lantana • Vinca • Bronze Leaf Begonias

  3. SPILLER. Finally, add blooms or foliage that gently cascades over the edge of your container. Spillers add dimension and a little added drama... extending the container into it's surrounding space.

    Shade Spillers: Trailing Coleus • Ivy • Lotus Plant • Asparagus Fern
    Sun Spillers: Bacopa • Sweet Potato Vine • Verbena • Trailing Petunias • Million Bells


Be the First on the Block


Be the first on your block to get this eye-catching and unique bloom. With a trailing growth habit, it’s a perfect spiller in containers, hanging baskets or window boxes. This bi-colored annual features pink-and-white flower heads contrasted by rich green foliage. Twister Pink is a heat lover that will thrive throughout our summer's heat and humidity. It will bloom from early spring all the way through until frost. Pinch spent blooms and trim foliage to encourage new growth. We love this new verbena paired with survivor pink geraniums or white geraniums.