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Trend Alert: Pilea Peperomioides aka “Chinese Money Plant”

At McDonald Garden Center, we’ve been carrying the rare pilea peperomioides for a while. Their adorable, pancake-shaped leaves and easy-to-grow nature already made them a superstar in our eyes. But when we started to receive numerous phone calls inquiring if we carried them, we took notice.

The story of the pilea peperomioides’ success is as endearing as it is enlivening. According to legend, in the 1940s Norwegian missionary Agnar Espegren brought cuttings home after his travels to the southwestern Yunnan province of China. Because it’s easy to propagate, he shared cuttings with friends and family. With all these Scandinavian homes adorning their décor with the pilea, it was only a matter of time before international demand took over. Friends and family began sharing cuttings since it was in such low supply, allowing this “friendship plant’ to become more than just ornamental, but a reminder of how connected we are.

If you’re lucky enough to snag one, here’s some tips on keeping your pilea peperomioides happy and thriving.

• Bright light, but not direct sunlight
• Is hardy up to freezing.
• Rotate weekly to maintain shape
• Use a good draining potting soil as the pilea needs to dry out after watering
• Make sure your pot has drainage holes
• Wipe down leaves as the wide foliage tends to collect dust
• Treat monthly with McDonald Garden Center Greenleaf fertilizer

Pieris, Katsura
Pieris, Katsura Foliage
Pieris, Tiki

Pieris, More Than Just Flowers

Who doesn't love an evergreen shrub that offers layers of gorgeous, cascading flowers, striking foliage and provides year-round interest. Pieris, also known as Lily of the Valley, is a charming and versatile shrub that flowers from late winter to early spring. Bloom color ranges from shades of white, pink and rosy-red. But the show's not over when the flowers fade. New foliage emerges in colors ranging from bronzy-pink to fiery-red. Leaf colors last for 2-3 weeks and then turn green as they mature.

This slow yet steady grower is available in many different varieties, so you're sure to find one that suits the size of your landscape. Pieris is easy to care for and prefers partial shade and moist, acidic soil. Older plants can be limbed up to look like small trees. Pieris is frequently grouped together in a mixed planting under trees or against a wall. As cut flowers, pieris is trendy in wedding bouquets. Here are a few of our favorite pieris varieties:

Pieris 'Tiki'
This unique, rarely seen variety has exquisite wedding, cake-like layers of white flowers on graceful, arching stems. Flashy buds stand out against glossy foliage through winter, opening to white, bell-shaped blooms. Tiki has a compact, rounded form that makes an excellent accent, massed planting or clipped hedge.

Pieris 'Katsura'
This evergreen shrub features long trusses of sweetly scented, pink flowers that spill over shiny foliage in spring. Beautiful, wine-red new foliage appears throughout the season turning dark green with age. This vigorous, moderately fast growing selection makes an excellent container accent, foundation planting or hedge.

Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel

Let Witch Hazel Cast a Spell on You

Looking to add a brilliant splash of color to your winter landscape? Look no further than witch hazel. This shrub features spellbinding winter color in shades of gold, orange, and red. Better yet, it blooms when other plants are done. Its spicy fragrance and spidery flowers in yellow, orange and reds make it a must for the winter landscape. In spring it erupts with a new robe of greenery, while in summer its thick, scalloped-shaped leaves form a dense screen of dark green. Witch Hazel is a rugged, early spring bloomer that provides much needed food for the pollinators. This hardy shrub can reach 30 feet high and 15 feet wide at maturity making them excellent as a screen, border or mixed hedge. It does best in sun or part shade and tolerates a wide range of growing conditions.

Witch hazel is probably best known for its medicinal and topical uses. In fact, it is one of the few plants approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a non-prescription ingredient. Witch hazel can be found in everything from facial toner, to acne lotion, to deodorant and bug spray. For centuries, Native Americans introduced it to early settlers for relief of swelling and irritation.

Witch hazel may not be magical, but it can bring life to your garden for many seasons to come.

McDonald Garden Center Gift Card
Simple Souther T-Shirts & More
Bouquet Series Foaming Soaps

Our Valentine's Top Five Picks

Valentine's Day sneaks up on us every year, but no worries - we have a whole host of possibilities for that someone special on your list. And need we remind you that roses aren't the only choice. So, if those diamond studs are not in your budget this year, consider giving one of these cupid approved gift this Valentine's Day!

This HEART-shaped flower symbolizes hospitality and their unique heart shape makes a perfect Valentine's present. Anthuriums are long-lasting and irresistibly beautiful and bloom in vibrant shades of pink, red, lavender, or even white. They also make a long-lasting cut flower, if you can bear to cut them.

Representing rare and delicate beauty, orchids are elegant and long-lasting, making them the perfect gift. Color range includes whites, pinks, lavenders and yellows in both solid colors or stripes and spots. And, we don't mean to brag, but McDonald Garden Center has one of the largest collections of orchids in Hampton Roads.

McDonald Gift Cards
Not sure what to give this Valentine's Day - give them the gift of choice. A gift card can be purchased in any amount from $10 to $300 at any McDonald location or online. Gift cards can be redeemed at any McDonald location or can be used for landscape services. Best of all, you don't have to worry about a size or color.

Give cozy and stylish comfort from the heart with our assortment of scarves, hats, gloves and World's Softest socks. And for the southern belle on your list, choose from our fun collection of Simply Southern t-shirts.

Bouquet Series Foaming Soaps
Shea butter, aloe vera, and pure fragrances create these luxury foaming soaps featuring delightful scents Michel Design Works is famous for. Beautifully packaged with Michel Design Works signature medallion in an easy to use and elegant square container.