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Watering, McDonald Garden Center

Watering Tips During Drought Conditions

We've been lucky to have such amazing, sunny weather here recently, but our plants haven't been getting much rainwater. This recent dry spell in addition to the periods of heavy rain that we experienced over this last year may have resulted in plants not developing a deep enough root system needed to withstand a period with no rain (especially trees and shrubs). Therefore, it is crucial that you water during this period with no rainfall. Established plants should receive one inch of water over the area once a week. Plants installed after February of this year may need more frequent watering. Here are a few more of our watering tips to help keep you plants healthy and thriving:

When watering trees or shrubs, be sure to give each plant ample watering every time you water. Holding the hose on the plant for a few seconds or even a few minutes is not enough to really get the root system covered. Instead, set your hose down near the base of the plant and set the water pressure to a medium to lower level- not a trickle and not full blast. This will ensure water is getting deeper into the ground and not running off the surface.

Lawns are also struggling in this time of drought. Make sure to water one inch every three days on established lawns and new lawns every one-two days. To best measure one inch of watering, turn on the sprinkler and use a tuna can or Tupperware dish that is an inch deep as a rain gauge. Time how long the sprinkler takes to fill up the container then run your sprinklers for this amount of time at each watering.

Plants require water throughout the day and dampness and darkness will cause fungus issues. In-ground sprinkler systems are great, but do not deliver adequate amounts of water to landscaped areas (areas with trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals). Be sure to apply additional water to irrigated areas in these dryer times. In-ground watering systems for lawns work well, but make sure they run in the morning and are getting at least an inch of water to all areas of the lawn.

Applying mulch will keep roots cool or warm depending on time of year and helps keep moisture in the soil.

Remove weeds from landscaped areas and around newly planted trees or shrubs as these will consume water before it gets to the desirable plants roots as well as reduce nutrient uptake for the plant.

Small Shrubs and perennials (1 gallon-3 gallon) 3-5 minutes per plant
Medium shrubs and perennials (3-5 gallon in size) 7-10 minutes per plant
Larger shrubs (7-10 gallon) 10-15 minutes per plant
Tees (10-15 gallon) 20 minutes per plant.

Water like the pros- we water every day! Our favorite tool is a good hose and a watering wand. Feel free to come in and talk with one of our experts for advice on watering and all your watering needs. For information on watering
click here

Brilliant Autumn Fern
NEW Shade-Loving Perennials for the Garden
Heuchera Forever Red
Heuchera Forever Red
Heuchera Carmel
Heuchera Carmel

Shade-Proof Perennials

Contrary to what most people think, gardening in the shade isn’t any harder than gardening in sunny areas of the landscape. Just like planting in sunny conditions, planting in shade requires a little for thought and planning in choosing and placing plants. Many full and partial-shade plants are really pretty, so you don’t have to sacrifice beauty in order to garden in the shade! Some shade-loving plants offer colorful or variegated foliage to brighten up those dark areas. Here are a few shade-loving plants that we think you’ll love, too.

Brilliance Autumn Fern
This handsome coppery red selection is brighter red and significantly more dramatic than others in the species. A bold and beautiful choice for dappled sunlight to deeply shaded areas. Leaves mature to deeply cut, dark green. Easy to grow and adaptable.

Heuchera FOREVER® Red
This lovely, fast growing Heuchera has the reddest leaves ever, a great crown, and it is a vigorous grower. The leaves are cut and somewhat ruffled and reddest in the spring and fall when the temperatures are cooler. The 14″ spikes with white flowers in mid-summer complement and contrast with the foliage. Exposure: Part shade, full sun, full shade. Bloom Time(s): August & September

Caramel Coral Bell
New leaves emerge bright gold and mature to a peachy orange. The soft but showy color adds warmth and contrast to mixed containers and woodland borders. Thrives in the high heat and humidity of the South. Sun tolerant in cool northern gardens. Evergreen in mild winter areas; an herbaceous perennial in colder regions. Plant in partical to full sun. Water regularly - weekly, or more often in extreme heat or containers.

Plant information and photos provided by Monrovia and Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

Tullip Bulbs

Fall Planting for Spring Color

It's just beginning to feel like fall, and winter is around the corner... so why are we talking about spring?! Well, fall is the perfect time to plant spring-flowering bulbs ~ like tulips, daffodils, crocuses & hyacinth. While it may seem odd to plant bulbs now, the reason is that spring-flowering bulbs need time to develop a solid root system before winter sets in.

A flower bulb is really an underground storehouse and flower factory. Within the bulb is just about everything the plant will need to sprout and flower at the appropriate time. All bulbs need is to be planted in the ground at the appropriate season of the year, given liberal water, and then sit back and let Mother Nature do the rest!

Nothing is more satisfying than planting dormant brown bulbs in autumn and watching them emerge in late winter or early spring with their fresh green shoots and colorful flowers. In order to take advantage of many spring favorites, their bulbs should be planted in the fall after the first frost (typically around October 15th in Hampton Roads). Bulbs require a long period of cool temperatures in order to bloom. It's vital to get bulbs planted before the ground freezes, so they can develop a strong root system.

Now's the time to start planning and purchasing bulbs, so you will be ready to pop them in the ground as cooler weather sets in. So, make a small investment in planting spring bulbs in the fall, and you'll be greeted with cheery early blooms come spring. And remember, fall bulbs can also be forced indoors, for beautiful color indoors.

For more on planting spring bulbs in fall click here.

Ornamental Pepper Onyx Red

Ornamental peppers are a great addition to the late summer and early fall garden. With foliage of varying shades, the real shining star of ornamental peppers is the fruit it bears in assorted, vibrant colors that are available in many shapes and sizes. This annual is an exceptionally versatile plant- use them in mass plantings, pots and hanging baskets, or simply welcoming guests to your front door.

If you are looking to add a pop of color to your fall garden, look no further than Onyx Red. Its attractive compact, branching habit, bold dark foliage and shiny red fruit along with its outstanding performance earned an All-America Selections award. Plants are heat tolerant, vigorous growers that retain their neat, compact habit, making Onyx Red a wonderful addition in beds, borders, containers and dramatic mass plantings.

The Fall Veggie Garden

The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of vegetable gardening. Cooler weather makes gardening more enjoyable and there are less insects to bug you. Actually, frost tends to improve the flavor of many cool weather crops. And, an added benefit is that many of these plants are visually pleasing in your yard, giving your landscape a boost in appearance.

To get started, we’ve compiled a few easy steps for fall veggie garden success.

  1. Prepare the Soil.
    Start from the bottom up to really have success. We suggest turning over the soil as one of the most important steps. This process aerates and mixes soil components.
  2. Fertilize with Compost.
    When fertilizing a vegetable garden, organic fertilizers are recommended. They consist of natural, organic material such as forest products, vegetable waste and animal manure. It can be purchased in bags, bulk, or made at home. McDonald Compost (sold in bag or bulk) will do the trick!
  3. Plant Your Garden.
    Dig the hole a bit larger than the plant’s root ball, place the plant in it, and firm the soil around the roots to the level of the surrounding soil. Water to eliminate air pockets and provide moisture to the root system.
  4. Water & Weed Regularly.
    Be sure your veggie garden receives water and you remove the weeds so that the weeds are not competing with the nutrients your plants need to perform their best.

Check out this list of cole crops that will flourish until frost arrives.

Pansies, McDonald Garden Center

Pansies – Timing is Everything

This time of year, we get this question a lot “When will you have pansies?” Pansies are perfect for providing color when the rest of the garden looks as if it's beginning to shut down for the season. These cool-weather lovers can actually make it through frosts — and even single-digit temperatures — and some varieties rebound in the spring. However, there is always the temptation to plant pansies too early in order to get a jump on the fall season, but planting them when it’s too warm will actually delay your enjoyment.

Pansies dislike temperatures above 70 degrees and their growth and flowering will be disappointing if planted while it’s still too warm. In Hampton Roads, temperatures usually don’t drop into the 70-degree range until almost October, so we are typically fully stocked in the beginning of October. If the weather moderates earlier, then we will have them in late September.

Pansies are often available at other suppliers, however, through our experience and research, pansies grown above 70 degrees will stretch, wilt and often die. Premature planting when temperatures are too warm may also result in yellowing leaves and leave them vulnerable to frost damage or pest and disease infestation.

October is the perfect month to plant pansies when the air temperatures have cooled off with day temperatures generally in the 70’s and ground temperature are still warm and aids in root growth and strong plants that will reward you with loads of blooms well into mid-April.

So remember, O before P (OCTOBER before PANSIES) and resist the temptation to purchase those pretty, little pansey faces before it’s time.

Double Dynamite® Crepe Myrtle

There’s just something about a crepe myrtle. Vibrant blossoms that radiate elegance on lengthy, artistic limbs that seem to beckon the summer sun. And, Hampton Road’s love affair with crepe myrtles is undeniable. Few plants can match their combination of stunning summer flowers, vibrant autumn foliage, and unique and beautiful exfoliating bark.

Double Dynamite® is one of the newest selections of crepe myrtles introduced by Dr. Carl Whitcomb. This variety features a double explosion of cherry-red flowers in full sun and uninterrupted blooming for 100 or more days. Its ability to bloom continuously on the same panicle makes it positively extraordinary. Double Dynamite grows to approximately 8 feet by 8 feet and is mildew resistant and heat tolerant. Its upright habit makes it the perfect choice in the landscape or container. To test your knowledge of the crepe myrtle click here.

Catch the Wave on this New and Unique Succulent, String of Dolphins

There’s a new succulent on the scene – String of Dolphins. This playful, succulent variety, otherwise known as Flying Dolphins, the Dolphin Necklace, or by its scientific name Senecio Peregrinus, is all the rage in the succulent world, and it’s easy to see why. The delightfully curved leaves that protrude from the stemmed vine look like jumping dolphins.

The Dolphin succulent can grow up to 6-inches tall and maintains its shape as it grows. This plant requires plenty of light but prefers indirect light. Perch them on a windowsill or table that gets plenty of sunlight. Like most succulents, this one will tolerate periods of dryness but will need to be kept moist enough to prevent the Dolphin leaves from puckering. Choose a well-draining potting soil, and use a container that is just a bit larger than the plant, since Dolphin plants thrive in slightly crowded conditions.

Succulents have never been more on trend than they are right now, and low maintenance succulents make for the perfect houseplant for those of any age to learn how to nurture their green thumb. Click on the link below to learn more about succulents.
Bring Home Succulent Style

The History of the Crepe Myrtle

The Crepe Myrtle offers beauty to the southern landscape in all seasons with summer flowers, fall color, winter bark and attractive foliage in spring.
Did you know Crepe Myrtles have been around for more than one thousand years? Now that's a tree that has certainly proven itself.

The Crepe Myrtle's roots actually begin in China, where it was named “Pai Jih Hung,” meaning hundred days red for its beautiful color and long bloom season. The Chinese also called it the “monkey tree” because monkeys could not climb the smooth, slippery trunks. This ornamental tree was especially favored by the Tang dynasty between 618 and 906.

With its English name derived from the myrtle-like leaves and crinkled tissue like petals, the Crepe Myrtle has been in cultivation in the United States for more than a century and a half. Some fine old specimens are found in many historic gardens throughout the South. A short list of likely ports suggests that Crepe Myrtles may have entered the country by way of Norfolk.

For twenty-five years or so, the late Dr. Donald Egolf of the National Arboretum worked to cross-breed Crepe Myrtle varieties, which resulted in a number of new hybrids that proved more disease-resistant, hardier, and more vigorous. All have mottled peeling bark, which can be very showy in winter. These hybrids are superior performers, offering better blooming success than the original Crepe Myrtles once did.

Now one of Hampton Roads most popular plants, the Crepe Myrtle is still called “the tree of one hundred days” due to its long flowering period. It’s a year round beauty planted in the landscape or in a container. And, best of all it loves the heat and humidity of a Tidewater summer.

It's no surprise that this heat-loving, humidity-thriving, drought tolerant, fast growing plant ranks as one the South's most popular ornamental tree! Be sure to check out the many Crepe Myrtle varieties during our 37th annual Crepe Myrtle Fest, July 19-21. To learn more about the Crepe Myrtle, check out our blog

How Well Do You Know Your Crepe Myrtle .

Snake Plant
Aloe Vera
Spider Plant
Golden Pothos
Peace Lily

Nature's Air Purifier, Plants for Clean Air

Indoor air pollution is an increasing problem today and according to the EPA, our homes can have three to five times more pollutants than the outdoors. Substances like xylene (in paint and lacquers), benzene (furniture wax, insect sprays) trichloroethylene (cleaners, adhesives), and formaldehyde (upholstery, air fresheners) can cause symptoms like headaches, sore throats, or allergy-like breathing troubles.

In 1989, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in collaboration with Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) conducted a Clean Air Study and published results featuring a complete list of plants that are most effective at purifying the air inside.

The study, led by Dr. B. C. Wolverton, found that some plants were effective at filtering out benzene, ammonia, and formaldehyde from the air, helping to counteract the effects of Sick Building syndrome. The study found that certain commonly used houseplants are very efficient in removing formaldehyde, trichloroethane, benzene and other air pollutants and replacing them with breathable oxygen. Here are a few common houseplants that made the list:

Snake Plants - add style and modern charm to any room with their upright, sword-like foliage. These plants help remove a variety of chemicals from the air, including nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde. Snake plants are very easy to care for and will even tolerate some neglect. They like bright light, but will grow in everything from direct sun to shade. Allow the soil to dry before watering.

Aloe Vera - listed as one of NASA’s top air-improving plants, aloe vera works much like the snake plant by emitting oxygen at night. Increased oxygen supply is believed to help with insomnia and improve overall quality of sleep. Aloe is a superb indoor plant and is easy to care for. Keep it on a bedroom window, as it requires direct sunlight. Unlike other houseplants, the aloe keeps water in its leaves, not the soil until it needs it so, be sure not to over water.

Spider Plant – this is one of the first plants shown to help clean the air, working best on formaldehyde. This member of the lily family prefers to hang as it sends out its runners and little offset plants that look like pretty little green and white spiders.

Golden Pothos - help remove formaldehyde and carbon dioxide from the air and their abundance of leaves yield freshly cleaned oxygen every day. This tropical vine is one of the most tolerant plants for low light. Don’t be afraid to cut the vines if they get too long. Remember, cutting plants stimulates growth.

Peace Lily - are celebrated for their ability to remove chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from the air. This easy to grow plant with its large leaves and interesting white flowers uses a lot of water and adds humidity to dry winter homes. It will tell you when it wants another drink by drooping its leaves.

To improve your indoor air quality, try using:

  • 1 - 8” or 10” sized houseplant per every 100 square feet
  • 1 - Small 4” or 6” sized houseplant in your personal breathing zone
    (6-8 cu. ft.), for example: placed on your desk or night stand.
  • 15 - 20 houseplants for 1500 sq. feet

Discover other plants that help purification the air (and even help you sleep better) on our blog, Go Green for a Better Night's Sleep . And, for a list of NASA approved air purifying plants check out NASA's Guide to Air Filtering Plants