Plants that Attract Beneficial Insects

Beneficial insects are good bugs - that means they eat bad bugs like aphids, thrips and spider mites that feed on your plants or they provide a benefit to the plants. Ladybugs for instance are great workers in the garden and a single ladybug can eat more than 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Flowers attract other beneficial bugs including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that help pollinate. Caterpillars are also beneficial. When they are preparing to form their cocoon, they will eat aphids. Here’s a list of some of our favorite plants that attract beneficial bugs.

Dill - has feathery green foliage that stands tall in the back of herb gardens. But, don't just plant it there, mix it in with your perennial flowers. It attracts butterflies and ladybugs. Dill has clusters of pretty yellow flowers. Its also a spice for fish dishes or to incorporate in salads.

Salvia – a member of the mint family these blooms offer long lasting color and attract butterflies and pollinators. Salvia is typically a rapid grower and tolerates summer heat with more graceful, spiky blooms. Many colors are available from different types of salvia and these include blues, purples, pinks, reds as well as some whites and yellows.

Lobelia - has brilliant blue or white flowers that are a favorite of hummingbirds. Plant them in container gardens and beds that receive full to partial sun.

Agastache - has spikes of tubular shaped flowers and aromatic foliage with a lemon-peppermint fragrance. This perennial is a favorite of ladybugs, butterflies, hummingbirds and gardeners alike.

Parsley – This is a favorite of the parsleyworm caterpillar, which becomes the treasured black swallowtail butterfly. White the caterpillar will ea much of the plant, they will not kill so we suggest planting some for your and the soon to be butterflies. Grow in full sun to part shade.

Scabiosa – also known as the Pincushion flower. The lavender blooms look like a pincushion. They bloom profusely from early spring through summer. Plant this perennial in a sunny spot for you and the ladybugs to enjoy.

Coneflowers - Echinacea, or Coneflowers are a favorite summertime perennial that attract ladybugs, butterflies and hummingbirds. Best known as the Purple Coneflower there are many different varieties available today in all sorts of shades of purple, white, orange, yellow, pink, red and peach. Plant in full sun and enjoy these hardy perennials

Coreopsis - is another perennial that blooms profusely through the heat of the summer. While ladybugs and butterflies love it, deer do not and this bloom can be planted in a deer resistant garden. It will thrive in full sun.

Lavender - there are many different types of lavender which will attract ladybugs and butterflies. Their spikes of lavender or blue flowers are also prized for their fragrance. Plant them as a hedge in your herb garden, in a mass in a waterwise landscape or in container gardens in full sun.

Milkweed (Asclepias) - is also called Butterfly weed and is known as a butterfly magnet, but they aren't the only beneficial insect that loves Milkweed, ladybugs do too. The beautiful flowers of Milkweed are either yellow, orange, or red and yellow mixed. Plant them in a sunny spot.

Yarrow - is one of the easiest perennials to grow. Beautiful clusters of flowers in yellow, pink, or white sit atop fern like foliage. Yarrow is beautiful planted in mixed perennial borders and makes an excellent cut flower for drying. Plant in full sun and once it is established it requires little extra water.



How to: Butterfly Gardening


You can easily enjoy the graceful beauty of butterflies in your garden year after year with the proper selection of their favorite plants. All butterflies begin as caterpillars and must spend this phase of their life eating, so resist the urge to reach for insecticide. Caterpillars have very specific food needs provided by plants- known as HOST PLANTS. Only when the required host plants are available can they grow and weave the cocoon in which they will transform into beautiful butterflies. Adult butterflies are usually less particular in their choice of food and are attracted to a variety of brightly colored and fragrant plants - known as NECTAR PLANTS. Plan you butterfly garden in a warm, sunny spot protected from the wind and add a shallow container of water and a few large, flat stones for the butterflies to rest and warm themselves on.

NECTAR PLANTS (to attract butterflies)

Flowers: - Aster • Butterfly Weed • Centranthus • Coneflowers • Coreopsis • Cosmos• Daisies • Gaillardia • Joe-Pye Weed • Lantana • Liatris • Monarda • Pentas • Petunias • Phlox • Pineapple Sage • Primrose • Rudbeckia • Sedum” Autumn Joy • Sweet William • Verbena • Veronica • Zinnia

Shrubs - Butterfly Bush • Clethra • Glossy Abelia • Ligustrum • Lilac • Mock Orange • Weigela

HOST PLANTS (caterpillar food)

Flowers - Baptisia Australis • Broccoli • Butterfly Weed • Cleome • Clover • Dill • Everlasting • Fennel • Glove Thistle • Hollyhock • Mallow • Milkweed • Mints • Parsley • Rue • Snapdragons • Stinging Nettle • Violets

Shrubs - Anise • Spicebush

Trees - Black Locust • *Black Willow • Elm • *Hackberry • *Sassafrass • Tulip Poplar Tree • *Wild Cherry

*Denotes native plants frequently found existing in this area.



Celebrate Perennials. Celebrate Summer.

Summer is a great time to celebrate! We celebrate dads, we celebrates grads and even the flag. So, why not celebrate those wonderful perennials that come back each year in the garden?

Perennials are considered to be ornamental plants that do not die after one season of growth. This does not mean they live forever, however, they do offer a repeat performance for several seasons. The term perennial is generally reserved for plants with showy flowers, excluding ornamental grasses and other plants mainly grown for their foliage. The term herbaceous perennial further narrows the group to plants with soft, green stems that die back to the ground in colder climates. Trees, shrubs and other woody stemmed plants are excluded.

We love planting perennials in the landscape. They can create a border, focal point, accent or even fill a container. They are a source of back-ground in color and size and provide an abundance of cut flowers. With so many colors to choose from, there is one that is perfectly suited for your garden.

In the garden center now are some of our faves:

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia Purple Showers)
This beautiful, long blooming perennial thrives in hot, sunny conditions. Deep green foliage with hints of burgundy provide the perfect backdrop for the scores of vibrant blue-purple flowers. Works well in combination plantings, in borders, or in pots.

Coreopsis Moonbeam
Enjoy creamy-yellow blooms all summer long! This perennial loves the sun but tolerates some shade. The daisy-like flower is lovely in the garden or in containers. So versatile, yet so simple to grow!

Homestead Purple Verbena
This tough perennial is another great heat and drought tolerant plant that blooms continuously throughout the summer. Beautiful deep purple flowers bloom from spring until frost. Excellent as groundcover, in mixed color bowls, borders or in the landscape. Trying pairing with yellows or orange for vibrant color.

Miss Huff Lantana
Vibrant yellow, pink & orange blooms with light green foliage - you simply can't beat lantana for summer-long blooms and heat tolerance. This easy to grow perennial attracts butterflies too. Plant in full sun or light shade. As it is a spiller, this is a great plant for containers.


Beaming with Summer Flowers


Coreopsis, also known as Tickseed, is a native flowering plant that is right at home in Hampton Roads. Coreopsis Moonbeam is a daintier variety than traditional coreopsis. We love its whispy foliage topped with creamy, daisy-like flowers. Easy to grow and even easier to love, this perennial will give you blooms June through August with repeat flowers up until fall’s first frost. This plant is lovely in flowerbeds, raised beds and in summer containers. It is especially beautiful paired with other summer blooming perennials such as daylilies, coneflowers, salvia and guara.

Moonbeam performs best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. Once established it is drought tolerant and even better, this plant is seaside and salt tolerant making it an ideal additional seaside landscapes. It also is deer resistant.

McDonald Tip: Coreopsis will spread slowly, but like lots of perennials, we suggest dividing it about every two to three years to keep it growing year after year. To divide, we suggest digging up the clump and using a spade or sharp shovel to make divisions about the size of your fist and then re-planting each piece in the garden.


Our Natives are Right at Home

Native plant is a term used to describe plants that are indigenous to a particular area. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in a particular place. These plant species are adapted to the soil and weather conditions and are the foundation of our native ecosystems, or natural communities.


Native Plants Save Energy:
Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so they can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require very little care.

Native Plants Provide Balance:
Each native plant species is a member of a community that includes other plants, animals and microorganisms. The natural balance keeps each species in check, allowing it to thrive in conditions where it is suited, but preventing it from running wild.

Native Plants Benefit Local Ecosystems:
Natives are a cornerstone of biological diversity. They provide food and shelter for native wild animals such as birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The also keep the natural balance of each.

Native Plants Help Save the Bay:
Their root systems help rainfall percolate into the soil, reducing erosion and runoff. They help divert water from storm drains and decrease the impact of runoff to rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay. This improves water quality.

Here is a recommended list of Natives for you to try in your garden. You will definitely have success with these native plants while benefiting wildlife and our ecosystem.

Native Grass-Like Plants
• Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus)
• Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
• Rush (Juncus effuses)
• Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries)
• Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

Native Perennials
• Aamsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
• Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)
• Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnate)
• Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose)
• False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
• Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
• Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)
• Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata)
• Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)
• Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
• Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium coelestinum, dubium)
• Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
• St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum)
• Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
• Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
• Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
• Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
• Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
• Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
• Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Native Shrubs
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
• Clethra (Clethra alnifolia)
• Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
• Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra)
• Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
• Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)
• Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
• Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
• Bayberry (Myrica cerifera)
• Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)

Native Trees
• Red Swamp Maple (Acer rubrum)
• River Birch (Betula nigra)
• Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
• Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginica)
• Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
• Sweetby Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
• Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
• Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
• Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Native Vines
• Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
• Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
• American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)


Dancing in the Garden

Salvia Maraschino and Gaura Whirling Butterflies

Most gardeners only plan to wow their sense of sight in the garden. Colorful plants, coordinating displays, and even decorative containers are given much attention, but these only create a visual interest. Movement in the landscape is considered by many to be on of the key features in a well developed garden and can make for a far more interactive and inspiring outdoor space. When planning your garden, try to incorporate plants that will add a fun and whimsy touch. Here are few perennials that will not only add a fine and delicate texture to your landscape composition but will also dance in your garden all summer long!

Salvia 'Maraschino' - also called "Autumn Sage" this variety boast an abundance of velvet red blooms that are bring hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden and blooms all summer and fall. This salvia has an upright habit and grows to 2 to 3 feet tall. Use as an accent, in borders and beds and containers. Also makes a good cut flower. Blooms are edible and often used as garnish for salads. Maraschino is drought tolerant and prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

Gaura Whirling Butterflies - features sprays of white star-shaped flowers tinged with pale pink. In the breeze these move constantly, looking like a cluster of small butterflies. This relatively low maintenance perennial grows 1 to 3 feet tall and is excellent in containers, rock gardens or mixed borders. Whirling Butterfly does best in full sun to partial shade. It is adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions and is heat and drought tolerant.



Peonies are Popping!


These outrageously beautiful blooms are popping open all over Hampton Roads right now. A garden favorite, who doesn’t love the low maintenance, ruffly big flowers of a peony? These blooms are the quintessential wedding bouquet flower, so remember to cut the blooms and bring them inside for colorful indoor vases. Peonies come in several varieties: Tree peonies, Herbaceous peonies and a cross of the two -- Itoh peonies.

Herbaceous peonies are the most well known type of peony and produce beautiful cut flowers. These deciduous perennial peonies die back to the ground every winter and re-emerge each spring. They grow in part sun but benefit from some afternoon shade here in Hampton Roads. Most prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soil and good drainage is essential. The flower stems may not be strong enough to keep the often heavy, flamboyant flowers upright so we recommend staking these peonies. These low maintenance shrubs are deer proof. Choose from these varieties: Hawaiian Coral, Pink Parfait, Primevere, Sea Shell, Shirley Temple, Paul Wild, Miss America, Do Tell, Bowl of Beauty Karl Rosenfield, and Velvet Splendor.

Tree peonies are not exactly trees, in fact they are long-lived, hardy deciduous shrubs. We recommend planting them in full sun to part shade. They can tolerate some light shade but the plants may begin to grow towards the light. Their woody structure allows them to support beautiful dinner sized plate blooms. After blooming, they provide structure in the garden with deep green leaves in summer and bronze-purple foliage in fall. These peonies grow between 3-7 feet tall. Choose from orange, red and yellow varieties.

Itoh peonies are a cross of the green foliage and exotic blooms of the tree peony and the seasonal growing habit of herbaceous peonies. Itoh peonies are grown for their huge, beautiful blooms and lush green foliage. Historically, Itohs were challenging to grow and thus hard to find and rather expensive. But that’s all changed. A mature plant may produce 50 or more dinner plate size flowers on strong, short stems that do not requiring staking. These peonies are more compact in size and grow 2.5 feet tall - 3 feet wide. With dinner-plate sized flowers, a compact shape, deer resistance and low maintenance, what’s not to love about these beauties? Choose from these varieties: Cora Louise, Morning Lilac, Dandy Keiko, Scarlet Heave, Paeonia Singing in the Rain, Paeonia Lollipop, Paeonia Magical Mystery Tour, Paeonia Scrumdidleumptious, Paeonia Berry Garcia and Paeonia Magical Mystery Tour.


Queen of the Vines


Bring royalty to your garden with the beloved flowering vine, Clematis. This deciduous plant is without a doubt the most versatile vine you can grow. Few other perennial vines offer such a wide range of bloom colors, shapes, and bloom seasons. This easy-to-grow, climbing vine is cherished for its incredible flowers and is a perfect choice for both the seasoned or beginner gardener. Clematis comes in an array of colors including white, pink, purple, red, blue, yellow and bi-color. Bloom periods range from spring, summer, with some varieties flowering summer through fall. It's well suited to all types and sizes of gardens, from large or small, and formal or casual. Depending on the variety, vines can grow to heights anywhere from 1-25 feet; however, clematis may be pruned to keep a desired shape or form. Often you will see these beauties cascading over walls and fences or meandering up trellises, pillars, mailboxes, lampposts, or even arching elegantly over doorways. Some varieties even make a dazzling ground cover. Clematis is stunning when used alone or when several different colored varieties are mixed together. Most varieties grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. So let clematis, queen of the vines, reign supreme this spring and summer in your sunny garden!

One of our favorites this season is the new Sapphire Indigo™ Clematis. With a nearly continuous blooming habit, this compact vine will provide stunning masses of large sapphire blue flowers over a long season. It can be trained as a climber or grown as a showy, shrubby groundcover with no support. This outstanding new selection is perfect in containers and stunning when featured in a hanging basket.

photo courtesy of Monrovia


Sunshine and Blooms


The quintessential repeat bloomer, daylilies, are one of the easiest and most maintenance-free flowers to grow in the garden. Daylilies are available in an array of colors. The most recognizable color is yellow and the Stella d' Oro is our top pick. Translated as "star of gold", these flowers are a star indeed. You'll love their fragrant, ruffled flowers that bloom every day late spring through summer. The showy, trumpet-shaped blooms boast deep golden yellow flowers that measure about 2 ½ inches across. Each plant stands about 18-24 inches high with strappy, green foliage.

This spring and summer bloomer thrives in the heat and sunshine. Plant in full-sun and will drained soil. Stella is Ideal in small space gardens, in containers on patios or planted together in large numbers for a carefree and colorful ground cover. It will boast blooms May through July attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. We love pairing this garden classic with Crepe Myrtles, Lantana, and Homestead Purple Verbena.

TIP: Throughout the blooming cycle, remove the spent flower stems to tidy up the plant.



It's all about the color


Set a spring scene inside and out. From the graceful to the bold, these blooms are perfect center stage on your table or to add a springy warm welcome to your entrance or patio. These bunny-approved blooms in all the colors of the rainbow will make your Easter “egg-tra” special.

Shades of White
• Calla Lily
• Peace Lily
• Candytuft
• Orchids

Pretty Pinks
• Orchids
• Pink Dianthus
• Geraniums
• Mini Roses
• Camellias
• Candytuft

Sunwashed Yellows
• Pink Lemonade Petunias
• Gerbera Daisies
• Daffodils
• Orchids
• Bush Daisies
• Forsythia

Vibrant Violets
• Scabiosa
• Purple Alyssum
• Pericallis
• Petunias

Gorgeous Greens
• Mexican Feather Grass
• Ferns
• Tillandsia
• Green Spike

TIP: Remember any outside plant can be brought indoors to add a burst of color, and don’t be afraid to try something a little out of the ordinary. We love our Spring Herb Planter too that’s not only a real departure from the usual spring blooms but is aromatic as well. And best all, the herbs can be harvested for months to come!