You are here

The Blog: Let's Talk Gardening
Crepe Myrtle, Double Dynamite

Crepe Myrtle, Double Dynamite

Today’s Crepe Myrtles are available in an extraordinary range of colors and have long flowering seasons from mid-summer well into the fall. Plus, they are available in a wide variety of sizes and forms and can be used in many parts of the garden, from large screens to lawn specimens, shrub-beds to container plantings. If you’re looking for a tree that offers vivid color, good size and good disease resistance, then check out crepe myrtle Double Dynamite.

Double Dynamite® features a double burst of bright cherry-red flowers and dark purple foliage when young, maturing to a deep green. No seeds are formed, and flowering is continuous for 100 days or more on the same panicle, providing season-long flowers – nonstop! As with all crepe myrtles, pruning isn’t necessary but can be done to “tidy-up” the look of the tree, to encourage new growth and to maximize the number of blooms produced each season. This crepe myrtle variety has shown high resistance to powdery mildew & leaf spot. Overall plant growth habit and size is nice and compact reaching eight to ten feet tall and wide with a dense branching habit. Its upright form makes it the perfect choice in the landscape or container. Double Dynamite is the complete package - good size, color, disease resistance, hardiness, sun-loving, and heat and drought tolerant.

TIP: Plant Double Dynamite with these companion plants. Rose of Sharon, Indian Hawthorn, Daylilies, Cuphea and Butterfly Bush

To learn more about Crepe Myrtles, view our video Crepe Myrtles 101.

Made in the Shade, How to Create a Shade Garden

Struggling to find plants for those shady spots? No worries! Shade offers the opportunity to grow some wonderful, unique plants that not only tolerate lack of sun but actually prefer it. Large trees and shady areas in your yard can present a challenge to even the most creative gardener, but growing in the shade doesn’t have to be frustrating. Liven up your shady spaces with these shade-loving annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that can be enjoyed year-round.

WHAT IS SHADE? NOT ALL SHADE IS CREATED EQUAL

Partial shade - three to four hours of sun exposure each day, preferably during the cooler hours of the morning and early afternoon.

Filtered or dappled sunlight - similar to partial shade. Sun that makes its way through the branches of a tree (or trees). Sunlight passes through the tree canopy and the leaves create a pattern of light and shadow, or dappled sunlight.

Full or deep shade - less than two to three hours of direct sunlight each day with filtered sunlight the rest of the day, such as at the base of a north-facing wall or below dense evergreen trees.

TIP: The east side of homes typically receive morning sun with shade in the afternoon. The northern side generally receive very little light.

PLANNING YOUR SHADE GARDEN

When planning your shade garden, we recommend that you create an overhead drawing that includes your garden’s specific dimensions. It’s also helpful to mark both north and south on your drawing to help access lighting conditions, which will help to determine what types of plants will work best. Bring your plan in to any of our year-round locations and let one of our experts get you started on creating a beautiful and successful shade garden.

Before buying plants, assess your garden for light and know the amount of sun your garden receives. How dense is the shade? What time of day do you get sun? Is it milder morning sun or stronger afternoon sun? Also take into account the type of soil you have- wet or dry, clay or sand, etc. Consider these other design elements and features when planning your shade garden:

  • Color - brighten-up shady spaces by incorporating an assortment of colorful flowering plants or use a single color to define a chosen color theme.
  • Focus on foliage texture and color. Blend different foliage shapes, textures and colors. Interesting foliage will add drama and dimension and provide a beautiful backdrop for flowers.
  • Layering - will help move your eye through the landscape. Place taller plants in the back with smaller, shorter plants in front.
  • Plant is mass - group several of the same plant or several plants that have similar color, texture, and density together. Use groups in odd numbers (3, 5, etc.).
  • Curved/sweeping lines - sweeping curves and meandering bed lines introduce a sense of movement and help guide the eye through the design.
  • Water - add a fountain or bird bath to reflect light, create movement and add sound.
  • Walkway - provides a safe and easy walkway in and out of the garden and helps to visually connect your garden and home. Use materials like mulch, pavers or rock to create pathways.
  • Statuary - incorporating a piece of statuary is a great way to add a focal point to your outdoor space.
  • Lighting - lighting can help draw attention and illuminate shady areas in the late afternoon and into the evening.

TIP: Use white or light-colored flowers and variegated foliage plants. Whites, pale, creamy yellows, and light colors pop out in the shade. If you want to use darker colors, back them with variegated foliage or lighter colored flowers.

TREES THAT CREATE SHADE:

Large trees - those that grow to 30 to 50 feet high.

willow oaks • maples (October Glory) • river birch • zelcobas

Understory trees - those that are small enough and are shade tolerant to thrive under the canopies of other taller trees.

crepe myrtles • cherries • ornamental trees (pear)

TREES FOR SHADE
dogwoods • redbuds • Japanese maples

SHRUBS FOR SHADE
hydrangeas • azaleas • camellias • boxwood • fatsia • mahonia • gardenias • daphne • false yew • rhododendron

PERENNIALS FOR SHADE
ferns • hostas • heuchera • hellebores • carex • acorus • peonies • leopard plant • acanthus • astilbe • cast iron

GROUNDCOVERS FOR SHADE
liriope • vinca • mondo grass • sedum ogon

VINES FOR SHADE
climbing hydrangeas • clematis • jasmine

HOUSEPLANTS FOR SHADE
Most all tropical plants will do well in shade.

ferns • anthurium • cordyline • palms • croton • snake plants • philodendron

ANNUALS FOR SHADE
begonias • shrimp plant • coleus • impatiens

SHADE GARDEN DESIGN ACCESSORIES

Incorporating garden accessories into your design will add personality, beauty, and in some cases, functionality. Change the look and feel of your garden space easily by rotating or swapping out accessories seasonally.

Larger garden elements such as gazebos, arbors, patio furniture or ornamental stones can provide a focal point in your garden. Plan these elements carefully, since they are harder to relocate than smaller elements like potted plants, birdbaths and houses.

To learn more about shade plants click here.
To view the video on "How to Create a Shade Garden" click here.

Dramm Watering Wand
Terre Verde Expandable Rake
Bypass Pruners

The Garden Guru’s Top Three Gardening Tools

Any gardener will tell you that a good set of tools makes your gardening tasks that much easier. The right tools can turn a difficult job into a “piece of cake" and can save you time. But what gardening tools do you really need? A trip to the local garden center can present you with a dizzying array of choices, but don’t panic- you don’t need every tool on the market. Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, shares his top three essential gardening tools to help make your gardening tasks easier and whip your landscape and garden into shape.

Dramm Watering Wand

Caring for your garden takes a lot of work and effort, and one of the most important gardening tasks is watering plants. A quality watering wand is a great way to establishing a good watering routine with minimal effort. The Dramm Watering Wand efficiently saves water while watering from one plant to the next and is excellent for quickly and gently delivering water to beds, containers and landscape plants. Other features include:

  • Easy to use.
  • Provides a gentle, full flow for quick watering.
  • Allows for complete and total water flow control.
  • Eliminates the strain from squeezing trigger.
  • Made with aluminum for a lightweight and durable feel.
  • Shower head attached to a 30-inch long aluminum tube that will reach hanging baskets up high or containers down low.
  • Gets water right down to the root of the plant.
  • Can lay it down and leave on plant roots for a gentle, deep watering.

Expandable Rake by Terra Verde

No gardening toolbox would be complete without a trusty garden rake good for leveling, raking debris from soil, lifting grass, spreading mulch and raking leaves. Terra Verde’s Expandable rack is lightweight and extendable and designed to easily get between shrubs, planter boxes, air conditioner units, deck boards, and more. Other features include:

  • Made of durable steel.
  • Rack can be extended from 7 to 25 inches, and securely locks in any position.
  • Compact for small space storage.
  • Great for collecting leaves, tilling of soil, raking between shrubs, and clean-up after pruning.

Bypass Pruners

Pruners are a garden essential and are the perfect tool for performing light pruning tasks like removing small dead wood, limbing up small trees, deadheading, etc. A good pair of pruners can make your gardening work much easier and keep your plants happier. Choosing garden pruners that fit your hand, have, nice sharp blades and are manufactured of high-quality materials should be high on your checklist of selection criteria. Buying the cheapest pair on the shelf (or the most expensive for that matter) is usually not the best option. Other features include:

  • The most common and popular type of hand pruners.
  • Stainless steel, curved blades that uses a scissor-like action to pass next to, not on top of, the lower surface.
  • Perfect for making smooth, clean cuts.
  • Prevents crushing of soft plant tissue.
  • Perfect for trimming small limbs and branches, limbing-up small trees, deadheading, and other light pruning tasks.

Bypass Pruners by Brand

The Terra Verde Bypass Pruner

  • Features a heat-treated blade that will stay sharp through multiple uses and non-stick coating for clean, smooth cuts.
  • Durable.
  • Clean scissor-like action and a molded grip.
  • Adjustable tension safety lock.

Burgon & Ball Pruners

  • A little more expensive than Terra Verde pruners.
  • Made of high carbon steel, so blades stay sharper longer.
  • Comes with a replacement blade and spring, and a tool for adjusting spring tension.

Felco Pruners

  • Top-of-the-line pruners with cutting power and precision.
  • Features two blades - one very sharp (cutting blade). The other is not sharp (anvil blade or hook).
  • Lifetime warranty.

To learn more about garden tool essentials click here.

Summer Watering Tips

Did you know that 90 percent of every plant is composed of water? This should give you some idea of how important watering your plants really is. Follow these watering guidelines to ensure your plants stay hydrated and healthy all season long:

Lawns

  • Water between 5:00am-10:00am in order to prevent evaporation which occurs during the hottest part of the day. Morning is better than evening, since dampness encourages growth of fungus.
  • Water long enough to soak the roots. A light sprinkling evaporates quickly and results in shallow root systems.
  • Allow an inch of water per week on your lawn.
  • Adjust your hose to create a gentle rain. Sprinklers that produce a fine mist waste water due to evaporation.

Vegetable and Flower Gardens

  • Keep soil loose so water can easily penetrate.
  • Remove weeds to reduce competition for water.
  • Place the water where you want it and avoid evaporation by using soil-soakers or slow-running hoses, not sprinklers.
  • Too much water can be just as bad for plants as not enough. Plants that are submerged in water for too long may rot or drown from lack of oxygen.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Water deeply using a soil-soaker.
  • Water only when needed. Check the depth of soil dryness. While the surface may be dry, moisture is retained beneath the surface to sustain trees and shrubs.
  • Mulch to reduce evaporation. Add a 2" to 3" layer of wood chips, pine needles or grass clippings to keep soil cool in summer.
  • Mulch not only reduces weeds but also adds landscape interest.
  • Water plants growing in full sun more often than those in shade.
  • Do not fertilize during the summer. Fertilizing increases a plant's need for water.

Look for these plant clues for signs of over-watering or under-watering:

Signs of Over-Watering

  • Soil is constantly damp.
  • Leaves turn yellow or a lighter shade of green.
  • Young shoots are wilted.
  • Leaves are brittle but still green.
  • Algae and mushrooms are growing.

Signs of Under-Watering

  • Soil is dry.
  • Older leaves turn yellow or brown, and drop off.
  • Leaves are wilted or curl.
  • If your plants and flowers look wilted during the hottest time of the day, it doesn’t always mean they need watering. As long as the top of the soil is moist, you probably don’t need to water. Wilting is a self-protective mechanism to prevent too much moisture loss from the root area. Wait and see if the plants perk up after the sun goes down.

TIP: Does my container need watering? Do the finger test - Insert your finger down into the soil. If the soil is dry from the tip of your finger to your first knuckle, it’s time to water.

Be sure to join the Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, at 11AM, for a Facebook LIVE seminar on WATERING TIPS, TRICKS AND TOOLS. To go directly to our Facebook page click here.

The Garden Guru's Guide to Planting a Pollinator Garden

Butterflies and other pollinators are a beautiful and important addition to any garden. With the right plants and understanding of their needs, you’ll not only have these winged beauties in your backyard, but you’ll learn how to get them to stay longer! Before creating a butterfly garden, it’s important to consider which perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, and pollinator-safe solutions are best to support and attract butterflies to your garden all season long.

SOIL

Soil is a key component in any type of garden. Determine the type of soil you have - clay-base or sandy - and incorporate the soil amendments that will enhance your soil type.

TIP: Amendments for clay and sandy-based soils. For Clay-based soil - use 1/3 your soil + 1/3 compost +1/3 perlite. For Sandy-based soil use 1/3 soil + 1/3 compost + 1/3 peat moss.

LOCATION

Sun vs. Shade

  • Most butterfly plants require full sun, so you’ll need to find a good, full sun location that gets at least four to six hours of sunlight.
  • Determine the size of the area you’d like to plant. Do you want a large, in-ground garden or a small container garden?
  • Butterflies are cold-blooded insects that require the sun’s warmth to help their bodies work. However, you can grow both host and nectar flowering plants in shaded gardens adjacent to sun-drenched areas like driveways or patios.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTS
Host Plants vs Nectar Plants

NECTAR PLANTS (TO ATTRACT)

  • Butterflies are drawn to nectar-producing plants like marigolds, rhododendrons, blackberries, etc.
  • They are also drawn to color, especially red, orange, yellow, and purple.
  • Plant in groups of three to make them easier for pollinators to see.

NECTAR VARIETIES

Trees & Shrubs – butterfly bush, azaleas, rose of sharon, weigela, lilac, sweetspire, crepe myrtles, and redbuds, and pawpaw (zebra swallowtail).
Annuals – pentas, petunias, zinnias, lantana, verbena, and dahlias.
Perennials – coneflowers, bee balm, black eyed susan, joe pye weed, salvia, agastache, coreopsis, lantana, hollyhock, asters, goldenrod, yarrow, and veronica.

HOST PLANTS (TO FEED)

These plants are ideal for butterflies to lay their eggs on, with milkweed being the most popular. We recommend using a few different types of host plants to maximize your butterfly garden’s potential. Host plants also attract certain types of butterflies.

Types of Milkweed include swamp, common, tropical (annual), and butterfly weed.

  • Monarchs – butterfly or milkweed (tropical is annual), swamp milkweed, and common milkweed.
  • Swallowtail – fennel, dill, and parsley
  • Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw
  • Tiger Swallowtail – tulip poplar trees, and wild black cherries

OTHER PLANT CONSIDERATIONS:

  • Grouping plants together makes it easier for butterflies to locate them.
  • Select based on bloom time.
  • Do you want blooms through the fall or just for the summer?
  • Consider plant size (height and width).

OTHER IMPORTANT ELEMENTS TO INCLUDE IN BUTTERFLY GARDENS:

  • Flat rocks for sunning to keep them warm.
  • Cool shady spots for them to cool off.
  • Water Source – low clay saucer with some rocks, a butterfly bath, or birdbath.
  • Grasses for windbreak and overwintering eggs as well as a place for butterflies to hide.
  • If using a container, be sure to add different plants and elements such as rocks and small dishes for water.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE

  • Perennials - most will need to be deadheaded.
  • Water Plants - water deep and often.
  • Mulch - to control weeds and produce better plants.
  • Feed Your Plants - McDonald Greenleaf (traditional or organic).
  • Insect Control - avoid using insecticides that may harm pollinators. Instead, use ladybugs or McDonald organic solutions.

To learn more about pollinators plants click here.
To learn more about attracting pollinators click here.

Bromeliad
Bromeliad
Tropical Hibiscus
Palms

Lost in Paradise, How to Achieve a Tropical Look Inside and Out

Tropical style is easy to achieve when using the right plants. No matter the climate, there are plenty of plants suitable for creating a tropical vibe in just about any space whether it be indoors, on a porch or patio, or in the landscape. Plants used do not necessarily have to be tropical in nature; they just need to contribute to the overall tropical feel.

Using bold colored annuals, perennials, houseplants, trees and shrubs in reds, yellows, oranges, maroons, pinks, greens, and purples can help achieve a tropical feel. Incorporate plants that have interesting patterns, shapes, textures, and movement. In larger spaces, add a few outdoor accessories such as a fountain or bench, brightly colored pots, and decorative wall art to complete the look.

CREATING A TROPICAL FEEL INDOORS

Houseplants are an easy way to add color and create a tropical vibe indoors. In addition to their lush leaves, many of these tropical species produce gorgeous blooms indoors. Some are even fragrant! Use these houseplants to bring the tropics indoors:

Houseplants:
croton • bird of paradise • banana plant • elephant ear • philodendron • conjo rojo • bromeliad • palms •anthurium • cordyline • peace lily • orchid

TIP: All indoor plants go through an acclimation period to adjust to a new indoor environment (from greenhouse to home). Don’t be alarmed if they drop some leaves initially. Refrain from repotting for approximately six months to give them plenty of time to acclimate to their new environment. Another tip, when bringing indoor houseplants outside, be sure to acclimate before exposing them to bright light.

CREATING A TROPICAL VIBE IN SMALL SPACES (PORCHES, PATIOS, BALCONIES AND DECKS)

Don’t let limited outdoor space prevent you from trying out your tropical green thumb. Incorporating flowering plants, small trees and shrubs, hanging baskets, and combination planters are key to growing in small spaces. Mix in vibrant colored accessories like pillows, an outdoor rug, colorful pots, and decorative wall art.

CREATING TROPICAL CONTAINERS FOR SMALL SPACES:

When creating any container, there are several factors to consider that will affect the overall impact. Color, of course, is a high priority when trying to achieve a tropical look. Understanding “thriller, fillers and spillers” will help you to create an eye-catching combination. Once you’ve selected your container, start selecting the plants.

THRILLER - Choose a 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: fern • majesty palm • red sister.

Sun Thrillers:
tropical hibiscus • geraniums • ornamental grasses

FILLER - Select flowers that fill in the area directly around your thriller. These will add depth to your planter.

Shade Fillers:
impatiens • green leaf begonias • ferns • stromanthe • anthurium

Sun Fillers:
diamond frost euphorbia • marigolds • petunias • lantana • vinca • bronze leaf begonia

SPILLER - Finally, add blooms or foliage that gently cascade over the edge of your container. Spillers add dimension and a little added drama.

Shade Spillers:
lysimachia • Ivy • fern

Sun Spillers:
bacopa • sweet potato vine • verbena • trailing Petunias • million bells

TIP: Hanging baskets are a quick and easy way to create a tropical container. Remove plant from the hanging basket container and drop into a pot.

CREATING A TROPICAL VIBE IN THE LANDSCAPE

In the landscape, use saturated colored plants mixed with big, bold foliage like elephant ear or a banana tree for added layers and texture. Mix in some brightly colored garden accessories like an umbrella, seat cushions and pillows, an outdoor carpet, and decorative wall art to tie it all togehter. Add a water
feature or fire pit to invoke a sense of peace and tranquility.

TIP: It’s important to keep in mind that while tropical landscape design styles are more free-form than modern or traditional gardens, you still need to be aware of the sunlight requirements of the plant you choose. Choose from these sun and shade-loving options for a tropical look indoors or outdoor:

SUN OPTIONS

Annuals for Sun:
mandevilla • scaveola • lantana• tropical hibiscus • marigold • million bells • crossondra • vinca • bronze leaf begonia • pentas • dahlias • geraniums

Perennials for Sun:
elephant ear • Mexican petunia• pineapple lily • perennial hibiscus • purple heart • coreopsis • Miss Huff lantana • black-eyed susan• daylilies • cannas • coneflowers • sedums & succulents • ornamental grasses • rudbeckia • coreopsis • salvia

Shrubs for Sun:
Gold mop cypress • abelia kaleidoscope • golden euonymus • pittosporum • oleander • yucca • boxwood • knock out rose

Trees for Sun:
windmill palm • crepe myrtles • basjoo banana

SHADE OPTIONS

Annuals for Shade:
shrimp plant • caladium • New Guinea impatiens • coleus • sweet potato vine • begonia (dragon wing & green leaf) • diamond frost euphorbia>/i>

Perennials for Shade:
perennial ferns • heuchera • hosta • peonies • hellebores • columbine

Shrubs for Shade:
fatsia • plum yew • hydrangea • camellia • golden euonymus

Trees for Shade:
Japanese maple

To learn more about options for tropical-like plants click here.

Daylily
Perennial Fern
Shasta Daisy
Rudbeckia
Hens and Chick & Sedum
Grasses
Heuchera
Hosta
Salvia
Mrs. Huff Lantana

The Garden Guru's Top Ten Perennials

From their spring appearance, seasonal flowering, and gentle decline, perennials play a vital role in the garden. McDonald Garden Center’s Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, shares his top ten perennials for Hampton Roads.

WHAT ARE PERENNIALS?

Perennials grow back each year from roots that go dormant in the soil in the winter.

#10 - DAYLILIES

Daylilies are often referred to as the perfect perennial for lots of reasons. Not only do they come in a variety of colors and sizes, but they also survive in a wide range of climates, often with very little care.

  • Full sun.
  • Easy to grow.
  • Come in an assortment of colors, yellows, reds, corals, etc.
  • Repeat bloomers.
  • Little deadheading require but will help them to continue to bloom.
  • Available in both compact and larger varieties.
  • Can be divided in early spring or fall (after they finish blooming).
  • Deer resistant.

Daylily Varieties:
Happy Returns • Stella d ora • Rosy Returns

#9 - FERNS

Ferns provide excellent texture in the shade garden and can be planted as companions to bright blooms or as stand-alone in the landscape.

  • Shade-loving (prefers afternoon shade).
  • Low maintenance.
  • Great for containers and growing in the landscape.
  • Add texture and movement in the landscape.
  • Available in a variety of colors (light, dark and bluish-green), and ornamental patterns (deep cut, serrated, or lacy details).
  • Can be divided.
  • Most are evergreen in our area.
  • Great as a filler in cut arrangements.
  • Deer resistant.

Fern Varieties:
Autumn Brilliance • Japanese Painted Fern • Tassel Fern • Hollyhock Fern • Ostrich Fern

#8 - SHASTA DAISIES

Shasta daisies are an all-time favorite for the home garden and mix beautifully with other perennials. The large, pure white flowers and smooth, long stems make them perfect for cutting.

  • Full sun.
  • Hardy, tough plant.
  • Ideal in the landscape.
  • Lots of bloom power.
  • Produce classic daisy-shaped blooms.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Minimal deadheading required.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Available in different colors (white is the most prevalent).
  • Come in different sizes.
  • Use in cut flower arrangements.
  • Can divide.
  • Deer and rabbit resistant.

Shasta Daisy Varieties:
Becky Shasta Daisy • Goldfinch Daisy • Crazy Daises

#7 - RUDBECKIA (BLACK-EYED SUSAN)

Rudbeckia are brightly colored perennials in shades of yellow, orange, and gold. They bloom for weeks in the summer garden with minimal care. They’re also a
favorite of pollinators.

  • Full sun.
  • Summer blooming.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Spreading habitat.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Attracts pollinators.
  • Great as a cut flower.
  • Deer and rabbit resistant.

Rudbeckia Varieties:
Goldstrum Rudbeckia • Mini Beckia Flame

#6 - HENS & CHICKS AND SEDUM

Hens & chicks are mat-forming succulents that produce clusters of rosettes. The parent rosettes are the “hens,” and the smaller rosettes that spring from them are the “chicks”. This low-growing perennial spreads quickly.

  • Full sun (some varieties will grow in light shade).
  • Low maintenance.
  • Easy to grow.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Great as a groundcover.
  • Foliage can be red, green or a mixture thereof (some produce flowers).
  • Offers lots of texture in pots or in the landscape.
  • Available in purple, tricolored, greens, rosy-reds/pinks, etc.
  • Most are evergreen in our area.
  • Ideal in containers or in the landscape.

Hens and Chicks/Succulent Varieties
Little Miss Sunshine (stone crop) • Jaden Rose • Commander Hay • Odon • Autumn Fire

#5 - GRASSES

Perennial grasses are treasured for their hardiness, ease of care, dramatic appearance, and the wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes available. Large or small, grass brings rich texture, contrast and movement to most any space throughout all seasons.

  • Most grasses prefer full sun but some varieties can take shade to part shade.
  • Durable.
  • Versatile and easy to grow.
  • Beautiful plumes and some flowers.
  • Use in containers or in the landscape.
  • Great planted in masses.
  • Most bloom late summer fall.
  • Cut back in March/April (six to eight inches from the ground).

Grass Varieties:
Pampas • Sea Oat • Hamelin Pennisetum • Little Bunny • Pink Muhly • Blue Dune Fescue • Juncus Blue Arrow • Carex Everillo Sedge Grass • Liriope • Mexican Feather Grass • Horsetail Reed • Mondo • Black Mondo

#4 - HEUCHERA (CORAL BELLS)

Heucheras, also known as coral bells or alum root, are shade perennials known mostly for their striking, robust foliage. Heucheras begin to bloom in late spring and produce clusters of small blooms on spindly stems, typically in a magenta pink (hence the name coral bells).

  • shade-loving.
  • Easy to grow.
  • Gorgeous colors and leaf patterns.
  • Features wands of delicate cream to red bell shaped flowers.
  • Adds texture.
  • Great as a filler in containers or mixed in with other blooms in the landscape.
  • Blooms all season long.
  • Deer resistant.

Heuchera Varieties:
Carnival Black Olive • Redstone • Pumpkin Spice • Midnight Rose

#3 - HOSTAS

Hostas can turn a dull, shady part of the yard into an beautiful, low-maintenance landscape. Unlike most perennials, hostas are grown for their colorful foliage rather than for their flowers. There are many varieties
to choose from, each with its own unique leaf shape, size, and color.

  • Shade-loving
  • Easy to grow.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Available in lots of varieties, sizes, and colors
  • (Variegated and non-variegated leaf patterns).
  • Easy to grow in containers and in the landscape.
  • Attracts butterflies.

Hosta Varieties:
Patriot • Mighty Mouse • Curly Fries • Great Expectations • White Margin • Empress Blue

#2 - SALVIA

Salvias, also called sages, are easy to grow, bloom abundantly, and are a beautiful addition to the landscape. The blooms offer long-lasting color and attract butterflies and pollinators. Available in different varieties and colors including blues, purples, pinks, reds as well as some whites and yellows.

  • Full sun.
  • Easy to grow.
  • Heat tolerant.
  • Comes in whites, pinks, reds, purples, yellows, and whites.
  • Attracts pollinators.
  • Deer resistant.

Salvia Varieties:
Blue Marvel • Snow Hill • Hot Lips • Mexican Bush Sage • Black and Blue

#1 -MISS HUFF LANTANA

This easy-to-grow perennial boasts vibrant yellow, pink & orange blooms and loves the summer heat! You simply can’t beat lantana for summer-long blooms and heat tolerance.

  • Full sun.
  • Easy to grow and durable.
  • Bush-like habitat (can grow large).
  • Available in oranges, reds, and pinks.
  • Great in containers, hanging baskets and in the landscape.
  • Heat and drought tolerant.
  • No deadheading required.
  • Can be pruned to desired shape.
  • Attract pollinators.
#10 - Geraniums
#9 - Petunias and Million Bells
#9 - Millions Bells
#8 - Coleus
#7 - Euphorbia (Diamond Frost and Diamond Snow)
#6 - Hibiscus
#5 - Impatiens (New Guinea and SunPatiens)
#5 - Impatiens, New Guinea
#5 - Impatiens, SunPatiens
#4 - Portulaca and Purslane
#3 - Scaveloa
#2 - Begonias (Green and Bronze Leaf)
#1 - Lantana

The Garden Guru's Top Ten Annuals for Hampton Roads

Whether you’re looking to fill a window box, add a little curb appeal to your front walk, or just fill in a few gaps in the landscape, annuals are just what your garden needs to get it from now to WOW! McDonald Garden Center’s Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, shares his top ten annuals for Hampton Roads.

WHAT ARE ANNUALS?

Annual plants live for one growing season and then die, while perennials regrow every spring.

#10 - GERANIUMS

With a distinctive bloom and ruffly, textured leaves, geraniums give big color all spring and summer long. There’s lots of choices when it comes to color and variety.

  • Loves the sun but can take some shade.
  • Heat tolerant.
  • Available in lots of colors - reds, pinks, whites, and corals.
  • Great in containers, hanging baskets, or in the landscape.
  • Heavy feeders, so continue to feed to support bloom production throughout the growing season (fertilize every three to four weeks in containers and four to five weeks in-ground).
  • Deadhead geraniums regularly to prevent seed production and extend the length of the flowering season by forcing more energy into flower production.

#9 - PETUNIAS AND MILLION BELLS

PETUNIAS

Petunias are easy to grow and come in an almost unlimited assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes. From compact to mounding habits, there’s a petunia to fit any garden situation.

  • Sun loving/full sun.
  • Prolific bloomer.
  • Heavy feeders, so continue to feed to support bloom production throughout the growing season (fertilize every three to four weeks in containers and four to five weeks in-ground).
  • Ideal in containers, hanging baskets, and in the landscape.
  • Don’t require a lot of deadheading in the landscape but will need to be pruned/deadheaded when planted in containers.

TIP: Petunias have a tendency to get leggy and bloom less heavily in late summer. Shear the plants back by one third to encourage new growth and then fertilize them to give them a second wind.

MILLION BELLS

Million bells are an easy to grow annual that produces one-inch blossom that resemble tiny petunias. A classic spiller plant, it has a trailing habit, and looks great in hanging baskets, bowls, or mixed containers.

  • Sun loving/full sun.
  • Prolific bloomer.
  • Comes in a rainbow of colors - solids and two-tones, stripes, patterns, and double blooms.
  • Compact oval-shaped leaves.
  • Ideal in containers, hanging baskets, and in the landscape.
  • Heavy feeders, so continue to feed to support bloom production throughout the growing season (fertilize every three to four weeks in containers and four to five weeks in-ground).
  • Like petunias, these don’t require a lot of deadheading in the landscape, but you can pinch back regularly to encourage a more compact growth habit in containers.

#8 - COLEUS

Coleus plants give color all-season long in full sun, shade, and everything in between.Their bold and beautiful foliage makes them the center of attention
no matter where they’re planted.

  • Sun or shade – depending on the variety.
  • Available in lots of beautiful foliage colors and color combinations (greens, reds, oranges, purples, etc.).
  • Great as a standalone in containers or paired with sweet potato vine, etc..
  • Feed regularly (about every two to three weeks for container-grown and every four to six week for in-ground plants).
  • Water regularly, keeping soil moist.
  • Keep plants looking tidy and maintain their size and shape by pinching or trimming stem tips.
  • To promote denser and more compact growth, pinch out flower spikes before they elongate.

#7 - EUPHORBIA (DIAMOND FROST AND DIAMOND SNOW)

Diamond frost

Diamond Frost produces delicate, gray-green foliage with petite, white blossoms. This plant is tough and is both heat and drought tolerant. Diamond Frost has unstoppable flower power, and blooms all summer long.

  • Full sun to part shade.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Perfect in hanging baskets or as a filler in containers.

Diamond Snow

Diamond Snow has the same habit and easy-to-grow features as the original favorite, Diamond Frost, but it features double white flowers and a mounding habit.

  • Full to partial sun.
  • Great in hanging baskets, as a standalone in containers or as a filler in mixed containers, or as a border in the landscape.

#6 - HIBISCUS

Annual hibiscus is an easy to grow variety that features big, bold blooms that creates an instant tropical feel. Plant in the garden or pot up several plants to create vibrant focal points around a deck, patio, or pool.

  • Tropical and loves full sun.
  • Blooms all summer long.
  • Comes in white, pink, red, orange, yellow, and bi-color.
  • Use in garden beds and containers.
  • Heavy feeders, so continue to feed to support bloom production throughout the growing season (fertilize every three to four weeks in containers and four to five weeks in-ground).
  • Remove spent blooms.
  • Pruning helps maintain a nice shape and size and encourages a fuller plant.
  • Bring hibiscus in during the winter to keep them year-round.
  • Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

#5 - IMPATIENS (NEW GUINEA AND SUNPATIENS)

Impatiens flowers have much to offer, including shade-tolerance, long-lasting blooms, and brightly colored blossoms that come in a variety of colors.

New Guinea

New Guinea impatiens provide long-blooming flower power for a part sun to shade areas in the garden.

  • Part sun to shade.
  • Low maintenance and high performing.
  • Blooms in pastels and vibrant colors including white, red, pink, violet, coral, purple, and yellow.
  • Use in containers, hanging baskets and in the landscape.
  • No deadheading required.

SunPatiens

SunPatiens flourish in full sun, high heat, and high humidity, making them perfect for Hampton Roads’ summers.

  • Grow in sun or shade (more tolerant of sun).
  • Low maintenance and high performing.
  • Blooms in pastels and vibrant colors including white, red, pink, violet, coral, purple, and yellow.
  • Use in containers, hanging baskets, and in the landscape.
  • No deadheading required.

Garden Impatiens

Typical garden variety impatien.

  • Shade-tolerance
  • Long-lasting blooms.
  • Available in a variety of colors.>
  • Use as a bedding plant, in containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes.

#4 - Portulaca & Purslane

Portulaca

Portula is a popular, drought-tolerant annual that loves the hot, dry days of summer. These plants are low-growing spreaders with thick succulent leaves and vibrant, cup-shaped flowers.

  • Sun loving.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Dome-shaped habit with thick, succulent-like leaves.
  • Come in a variety of colors - pink, coral, red, yellow, and white.
  • Fertilize and shape to keep them looking their best.
  • Attracts pollinators.

Purslane

Purslane is a tough, vigorous, low-growing
annual flower that thrives in hot, dry conditions and adds tons of color with a minimum of care.

  • Loves full sun.
  • Flatter leaf than its cousin portulaca.
  • Thrives in hot, dry conditions (drought tolerant).
  • Blooms in lots of bright colors - yellow, orange, rose, red, and white.
  • Use in beds, borders, containers, and hanging baskets.
  • Fertilize and shape to keep them looking their best.

#3 - SCAVEOLA

Scaveloa is a easy care, heat loving plant with spoon-shaped leaves and fan-shaped flowers. Its thick stems ensure drought tolerance in full sun locations.

  • Loves full sun.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Trailing habit.
  • Produces blue, pink, or white flowers.
  • Good in containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
  • Feed in containers every three to four weeks.
  • No deadheading required.
  • Attracts butterflies.

#2 - BEGONIAS (GREEN AND BRONZE LEAF)

Begonias are an easy to grow annual that does well in a variety of conditions and needs little to thrive. Begonias plants are grown for both their leaf forms and their blooms and are available in many different leaf colors, shapes, sizes, and colors.

Green Leaf Begonia

  • Designed for shade
  • Easy to grow.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Gumdrop/round habit.
  • Use in the landscape, hanging baskets, or containers.
  • Available in pinks, whites, and reds.
  • No deadheading required.

Bronze Leaf

  • Full sun.
  • Easy grow and versatile.
  • Comes in white, pink, or red.
  • Use in the landscape, hanging baskets, or containers.
  • Feed in containers every three to four weeks.

OTHER BEGONIA VARIETIES:

Big Leaf (available in bronze and green leaf) • Dragon Wing • Angel Wing • Solenia

#1 - LANTANA

Lantana are a durable, easy-to-grow plant that thrives in drought and harsh sunlight conditions. Lantana boasts tons of brightly colored flowers all summer and into fall.

  • Needs full sun.
  • Easy to grow.
  • Tolerant of both drought and humid conditions.
  • Comes in purple, red, orange, white, pink, yellow, and bi-color.
  • Use in containers, hanging baskets, and in the landscape.
  • Some varieties have spreading habit while others have open habit or compact habit.
  • Deadheading is not required (prune longer branches if desired).
  • Can cut the plant back by one-third if lantana gets long and leggy in midsummer, or just shear the tips.
  • Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

To learn how to care for summer annuals click here.

Chinese Evergreen (aglaonema)
Snake Plant (Mother-in-law's tongue)
Anthurium
Fiddle Leaf Fig
Succulent
Monstera (Swiss cheese plant or split-leaf philodendron)

Bring Life to Your Virtual Space, Zoom-worthy Plants

These days, video chat is the new normal and a vital tool for staying connected with family, friends, and coworkers. And whether you’re looking to up your game for working from home meetings or impress your friends at a virtual happy hour the only thing more important than your face is your zoom-room background.

Looking for ways to take you video calls to the next level? Why not add a little greenery to your virtual interior. Plants can boost your mood, increase productivity and efficiency, and add texture and color to any space. From a large, sculptural plant filling in a drab corner to charming succulents for a desktop- there's a place for plants in every home. Share your green thumb and beautify your cybernetic background and your home with some of these low maintenance, zoom-worthy plants:

PLANTS FOR LOW LIGHT

Snake Plants (Mother-in-law’s tongue) add style and modern charm to any room with their upright, sword-like foliage that can grow to four-feet in height. Snake plants are 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. Use larger snake plant varieties to fill a vacant corner or place smaller varieties on a table or desktop.

Chinese Evergreens (aglaonema) are another versatile, low light houseplant option. Adored for their big, beautiful, colorful leaves, their low-maintenance requirements and their ability to adapt to a variety of conditions makes them great for houseplant beginners. Aglaonema will tolerate a wide range of lighting scenarios from very low light to bright but not direct sunlight. A moderate drying between waterings is okay, but the soil shouldn’t dry out completely. Perfect on tabletops and desktops.

PLANTS FOR MEDIUM LIGHT

Monstera (Swiss cheese plant or split-leaf philodendron) is a tropical favorite. The foliage is deep green and lush with an intricate cut-leaf shape. As a tropical plant, it’s no surprise that monstera likes warm indoor temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees. A little humidity makes them feel right at home. Monstera prefers bright or filtered, indirect light. Water when soil becomes dry. Use larger plants on the floor by a table or sofa or to fill an empty corner.

Anthuriums are a low maintenance, flowering plant that boasts heart-shaped blooms and comes in several colors including pink, purple, red, and white. Anthuriums do best in bright, filtered light. Water enough to keep the soil lightly moist but never wet. The bright, showy flowers make a great color accent on a table, desk, bookshelf, or countertop.

PLANTS FOR HIGH LIGHT

Fiddle Leaf Figs are a wildly popular houseplant with large, heavily veined, violin-shaped leaves that grow upright on a tall plant. Fiddle leaf figs are native to the tropics, where they thrive in very warm, high light conditions. Give them a vacation outside during warmer months and bring them indoors when cold weather sets in. Fiddle leaf figs perform best in bright light. Perfect in any sunny room location.

Succulents are one of the most versatile plants on the globe. Because they have shallow roots, they can survive without a great deal of care and thrive in drought-like conditions. Succulents also come in a variety of shapes and colors. Succulents prefer bright light, the brighter the better. 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. Succulents can be used in all sorts of ways; as table arrangements, on a desk, in a bookshelf, on a kitchen island, or in a bathroom– the skies the limit.

To read our blog on "The 5 Easiest Houseplants"click here.

To learn more about caring for houseplants click here.

A Get-Away-From-It-All, Secret Garden

Do you dream of a little spot tucked away in the back corner of the yard? A place where you can retreat and have some time to yourself. Maybe have a glass of wine and enjoy the colors and fragrances of the garden. If you’re feeling tense and irritable in quarantine with a crew, you are not alone — it’s likely a sign you may need some alone time. Even just ten minutes alone can do wonders for your psychological well-being. Well, you may want to consider a secret garden. There is no need for high brick walls or giant iron gates. The only requirement for a secret garden is that it be hidden. It doesn't need to be a large space, it simply needs to be secret, and you can do that with plants. Here are our recommendations for creating a secret spot:

CREATE THE FEELING OF ENCLOSURE
This can be accomplished with Ligustrum, Rose of Sharon, or any quick growing shrub. Screening even one corner with a hedge or placing a trellis with climbing vines can create a feeling of enclosure.

CREATE AN ENTRY FOR THE GARDEN
A flagstone path leading to the secret garden will complete the feeling that you are actually entering a separate place but to really make you feel as if you have your own special space, use a gate or a trellis at the entrance. For the trellis - or for the sides of the gate - any climbing flower will work such as Madison jasmine, honeysuckle, or mandevilla. Or, just create a little space between shrubs that allows you to slip through.

CREATE A FOCAL POINT
Consider a fountain, a peaceful resting bench, a statue, a birdbath, or even a unique planting such as a weeping cherry, or ornamental plum. Create your pathway through the entry leading right to your focal point. Plant ground covers or bright annuals around the focal point. Consider planting fragrant blooms like iris, gardenias, daphne, and daffodils that will bloom at different times during the season.

Add a couple of chairs or a wrought-iron bench, and your secret garden is ready for visitors - but only if you invite them!

Read our blog about "Living Fences" click here.

To learn more about adding structures to your garden click here.