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String of Pearls
String of Dolphin
Assorted Succulent

The Wonderful World of Succulents

Succulents have never been more on trend than they are right now, and these low maintenance plants make the perfect houseplant for those of any age to learn how to nurture their green thumb. These eclectic plants come in silhouettes and growing habits that look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Succulents are low-maintenance, get by on minimal water, and come in an amazing assortment of interesting shapes, varied patterns, unusual colors and many even boast beautiful flowers! Try your hand at succulents and see how exceedingly easy these gems are to grow.

Here are the general rules for growing top-quality succulents:

Light - Succulents prefer bright light, the brighter the better! Place your succulent in a window where it can get direct sunlight. Succulents don’t do well in the shade but will thrive when the sun is shining brightly on them.

Temperature - Keep your ambient room temperature anywhere from 55° to 75° Fahrenheit. Too hot or too cold can be detrimental to the health of the plant, however, normal home conditions are suitable for succulents.

Water - Water whenever the soil gets dry and pulls away from the edges of the pot. Water just enough to soak the soil evenly. Overwatering a succulent is as bad as not watering it at all, as these are drought-resistant plants designed to withstand extremely dry conditions.

Be sure to visit our Independence location for our complimentary succulent seminar, The Wonderful World of Succulents, to learn about the many succulent varieties available and how to care for and maintain them for succulent success! Click here for seminar details.

Snake Plant
Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)

Warm-Up Your Winter with These Low Maintenance Houseplants

The winter season can be a peaceful time, but if you are longing for a vibrant pop of color to break up the drab browns and grays of the season, consider adding houseplants to your space. No matter if you’re lacking a green thumb or short on space and light, there are indoor plant options that can stand up to even the most harsh of conditions. Our houseplant experts recommend that before purchasing a houseplant consider these three simple questions: where is the plant going to live?; what kind of light does the area receive?; and what are the plants watering requirements? We’ve selected a few of our favorite low-maintenance wonders that can stand up to neglect while still bringing a touch of green into your life. Take a look at the list below, then see if any of these gorgeous plants could be a fit in your home.

Succulents are one of the most versatile plants on the globe. 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, looking good whether they have blooms or not! These stylish plants have moved to center stage and are being used in a multitude of ways both inside and out. Succulents used in all sorts of ways; 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.

Air Plants or Tillandsias survive mostly on air and an occasional watering. These unique plants, from the Bromeliad family, absorb nutrients, especially calcium and water, from the air which provides an abundant supply of nutrients to the plant rather than through their roots. Place them in glass terrariums, hang them from string on their own, set them in a shell or on a stack of books. They can even be glued, wired, pinned or tied to driftwood, seashells or baskets. The possibilities for the tough little plants is endless. Air Plants need plenty of fresh air and humidity. To water the plant, submerge it every two weeks.

Pothos are tough, versatile plants among the most popular of houseplants. This plant gets its name from its leaves, which are heart-shaped and glossy green. Pothos grow trailing, leafy vines that can reach 40 feet in tropical jungles, but usually confines itself to about 6-10 feet in containers, when allowed to trail freely. This hardy plant is able to withstand neglect and less than optimal lighting conditions. Pothos prefer natural, bright, indirect light. If they're exposed to too much light, they may slowly lose the lush color and slowly turn a pale green. As a general rule, check the soil and water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Keep the soil evenly moist but allow it to dry out between waterings.

Snake Plants are tough plants with heavy, sword-like leaves which shoot up from the base of the dirt and can grow to 4-feet in height. The snake plant prefers moderate to bright light. This houseplant prefers to be watered once every 7 - 10 days thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry in between waterings. Drooping foliage can indicate over watering. On the other hand if the foliages begins to wrinkle or bend over you are not providing enough water.

Chinese Evergreens are another versatile low light, low growing, durable houseplant. The distinctive foliage and compact size make it an ideal accent plant. Chinese evergreens are available in assorted varieties, but no matter which one you choose, rest assured they are all easy to care for. This plant tolerates low light but does best if located in bright indirect sunlight. Keep it constantly moist but not wet, since sitting in water can cause rot. A moderate drying between the waterings is okay, but the soil shouldn’t dry put completely.

To learn more about about houseplants click here .

Helping Birds Survive the Winter

Wintertime, and the living ain't easy for our fine feathered friends. Birds prepare as best as they can for the cold weather but can still have difficulties finding adequate food, water and shelter. Some birds migrate to get away from cold weather, but not all species of birds do. For those that stick around, the winter weather limits their food sources and leaves them relying on us to help them survive. There are a few things we can do to help birds get through those cold winter days:

Make Seed Available
In winter, Nature’s seed sources are depleted after most plants go dormant, and stocked feeders provide the nourishing diets and extra calories birds need to stay warm. Even if seed is available, the brisk winter winds often blow away seed and excess moisture makes available food inedible. Not to mention the shorter days give birds less time to spend searching for food.

Provide High-Energy Food
Birds burn fat for energy to stay warm. It’s important to choose bird feed that is high in calories and high in fat like suet, peanut butter, peanuts and black oil sunflower seeds. Unsalted peanuts are another excellent winter food, since nuts don't freeze and are high in calories, oil and fat. These high-energy foods give birds the fuel they need to maintain warm body temperatures during the long, cold nights.

Provide Extra Calories
In summer, birds have an endless supply of insects and fruits to eat, but in winter, insects and fruits are nowhere to be found. While some birds migrate, the birds that don’t will adjust their diet from fruit and insects to seeds. Extra feeding helps them prepare for spring mating, and when birds have access to more nutrients in winter, the spring mating season will be more successful. Chicks will have healthier weights and egg laying will happen earlier.

Provide a Safe Place for Feeding
When food is difficult for birds to find, it’s also harder for squirrels, mice, raccoons and stray cats to find, too. Help protect birds by placing food sources near thick brush or other natural canopies to keep them safe while feeding.

Provide Water
It’s difficult for birds to find fresh water in winter once it begins to freeze, but water is essential not only to help them stay hydrated but also to assists them with clean up between flights. Birds not only use water to stay hydrated, but they also utilize water to preen their feathers, which helps to keep them insulated keeping them warmer and healthier. Simply breaking up ice in existing bird baths and keeping them full will help provide them with fresh water during the frigid winter months.

To learn more about what seed attracts specific birds click here .

Pruning, McDonald Garden Center

Why Prune? Winter Pruning of Tress & Shrubs

Winter, a peaceful time in the garden when trees and shrubs spend time patiently waiting for spring’s arrival. This quiet state is an extremely important stage of their annual life cycle and the perfect opportunity for you to help promote good plant health and vigor by pruning. Pruning is a regular part of plant maintenance involving the selective removal of specific plant parts. Although shoots and branches are the main targets for removal, roots, flower buds, fruits and seed pods may also be pruned. Pruning not only helps to boost your home’s curb appeal but also allows for proper plant growth, as well as helping to control insects and plant related diseases. We’ve outlined some of the other key benefit of pruning trees and shrubs during the dormant, winter months:

Improved Appearance and/or Health. Prompt removal of diseased, damaged, or dead plant parts accelerates the formation of callus tissue and may limit the spread of insects and disease. For trees, pruning a dense canopy allows for better air circulation and sunlight penetration. To avoid future problems, remove crossing branches that rub or interfere with each other and any that form narrow crotches.

Control Plant Size. Pruning reduces the size of a plant, so it remains in proportion with your landscape. Pruning can also decrease shade, prevent interference with utility lines, and allows for better access for pest control.

Prevent Personal Injury or Property Damage. Removing dead or low limbs makes underlying areas safer. Pruning can also reduce wind resistance in trees. Prune shrubs with thorny branches back from walkways and other heavily-traveled areas. We recommend that you have certified arborists handle any pruning work in the crowns of large trees.

Train Young Plants. Training main scaffold branches (those that form the structure of the canopy) helps to produce stronger and more vigorous trees. Shaping branches with hand pruners while a plant is young is much easier than pruning larger branches later.

Encourages Fruiting and Flowering. Proper pruning of flower buds encourages early growth. There are also selective pruning techniques that will help stimulate flowering in some species and help produce larger (yet fewer) fruits in others.

Rejuvenate Old Trees and Shrubs. As trees and shrubs mature, their forms may become unruly. Pruning can restore vigor and enhance the appearance of plants.

To learn more about why, when and what to prune, join us at our Independence location on Saturday, January 11, 2020, at 2PM, for our complimentary Winter Pruning 101 seminar, a comprehensive guide to pruning by the McDonald Garden Center experts. For details of the Winter Pruning 101 seminar information click here .

For addiitonal information on pruning click on the video below.