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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.

Candytuft
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!

Dianthus
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.

Snapdragon
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.

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Give Your Houseplants a Summer Vacation

After being inside all winter, there's nothing like sitting outside on a warm day, and just like us, houseplants enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and change of scenery! Letting them stay outside all summer long will give them much-needed nutrients for the winter once they're back in your heated house. However, you'll need to take a few steps to ensure a smooth transition. If you take the time to make the move outdoors a gradual one and shield them from extreme elements, they will thank you with healthy, vigorous growth and gorgeous blooms throughout the year.

Avoid Direct Sun. Place plants in light conditions similar to what they enjoyed inside your home. Never put them in full sun. Just like you, they’ll get sunburned – and there’s no SPF sunscreen for houseplants! Gradually expose the plants to sunlight by placing them in a partially shady spot.

Avoid Windy Spots. Wind can be a huge stressor for houseplants, since they are not exposed to windy conditions inside your home. Wind can dry plants out and knock them over. Be sure to place houseplants in a well-protected area, such as near a wall.

Avoid Exposure to Excessive Rain. A light drizzle can provide a welcome drink, but downpours can be destructive to houseplants, washing soil out of their containers and pounding their delicate leaves. Check to make sure your pots have drain holes, since heavy rain can also cause containers to overfill, which can lead to root rot and even drowning plant roots.

Consider the Outside Temperature. Most houseplants originate in tropical-like regions, so they will need to be brought in on cool nights or whenever the thermometer threatens to dip below 55 degrees. A good rule of thumb is to move them out when you would start planting your garden. If the weather has been unseasonably cold, wait until you've had at least a week of warm night temperatures before moving houseplants outdoors.

Consider Repotting & Pruning. Summer is an ideal time to repot and prune houseplants and cleanup is always easier outside! The rule of thumb is not to increase pot size by more than 2 inches (ex: use a 6-inch pot for a 4-inch plant). Pruning back excess growth and legginess can also help plants to grow fuller and more vibrant.

Fertilize & Inspect for Pests. Houseplants will need more nutrients outside during the warmer months; however, be careful not to over do it. Too much food can be just as bad for houseplants as too little. When in doubt, fertilize according to label directions. Secondly, be sure to inspect for pests. Inside, there are fewer opportunities for insects to bother your plants, so be sure treat against common outdoor insects once you move them outdoors.

If you have any questions about bringing your houseplants outdoors for a summer vacation, or you need a plant diagnosis, one of our McDonald houseplant experts will be happy to assist you!

Photos from McDonald Garden Center Owner, Eddie Anderson's backyard

Captivating Containers: Sun to Shade

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 • Cordyline
    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
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