Super plants always winner
By Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND – Fall is the best time of year to garden in Louisiana. Now through November and December is recommended for adding new trees and shrubs to your landscape. Also consider some cool-season flower additions or some herbaceous perennials.
There’s no better place to start than to add some past Louisiana Super Plant selections to your landscape. These plants are proven performers in LSU AgCenter trials and are highly recommended for home landscape use in Louisiana.
Sorbet violas are the best-flowering violas in LSU AgCenter trials. The vigorous plants produce small, bright flowers that cover the plant from late fall through spring. Flowering is so prolific it can obscure the foliage, and the smaller flowers hold up to rainy winter weather much better than pansies. Sorbet violas are more uniform and compact than other types of violas. They are completely winter hardy in Louisiana and come in a multitude of bright colors. They are an outstanding choice for beds or containers.
The Conversation Piece azalea belongs to the Robin Hill group. This group of azaleas is known for multi-seasonal blooms and large flowers on hardy plants. Flower size on Conversation Piece can be nearly 4 inches across. A unique feature of Conversation Piece is that flowers of different colors appear on the same plant. Flower colors range from dark pink to nearly white to variegated pink and white with darker pink center blotches on the same plant. Flowering occurs in fall and again in spring. Plants grow 3 feet to 5 feet tall by 3 feet to 5 feet wide. Use this low-growing, mounding evergreen shrub as a color accent or in a foundation planting in partly shaded areas.
The evergreen sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is an excellent native tree that is not nearly as well known as it should be. The variety chosen as a Louisiana Super Plant selection is the evergreen type Magnolia virginiana var. australis, which retains its leaves through winter. Speaking of the leaves, the foliage of the sweet bay magnolia is especially beautiful. Smaller and lighter green than the Southern magnolia and without the glossy shine, the leaves of the sweet bay are bright silver on the reverse.
The Camelot series foxglove (Digitalis) is seed-propagated and includes four colors – Camelot Cream, Camelot White, Camelot Rose and Camelot Lavender. This is the best foxglove for Louisiana so far, and it is notable for its large spikes of outward-facing, bell-shaped flowers. It is best planted in September through November or in February through early Match. An early fall planting will bloom in the fall and continue through spring. A late-winter planting will bloom in spring. First bloom will last 4-6 weeks with secondary blooms lasting another month. Flowering will last through mid-May. Rain and wind may cause stems to fall on 30- to 36-inch-tall plants. Plants perform well in sun, partial sun and partially shaded locations.
The Amazon dianthus comes in three outstanding colors – Amazon Rose Magic, Amazon Neon Purple and Amazon Neon Cherry – as well as Neon Duo with cherry and purple flowers. This seed-propagated series is excellent for bedding or cutting. Planting is best done in fall but can continue until early spring. Flowering occurs October through May, depending on planting time. Plants do best in full to partial sun.
We know ornamental kale and cabbage, but do we know the best? Redbor kale is incredible. It is edible, but it’s now grown more as an ornamental.
With the renewed interest in foliage plants for the landscape, Redbor kale makes a great addition to the ornamental kales and cabbages already available for the cool season. Redbor kale has been shown to be a proven performer in the South as a Mississippi Medallion-winning plant in 2005. It is one of the most vigorous-growing and heat-tolerant ornamental kales on the market. Plant this at the normal cool-season planting time in the fall and expect gorgeous foliage from late winter through late spring. It will produce extremely curly, early, dark purple foliage with a spring height of 3 feet.
Other Louisiana Super Plants you can plant this fall include ShiShi Gashira camellia, Frostproof gardenia, Belinda’s Dream rose, Penny Mac hydrangea, Shoal Creek vitex and Southern sugar maple. Garden centers have good inventory of trees and shrubs for fall planting now. Fall 2013 Louisiana Super Plants will be debuted starting in late September.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website at www.lsuagcenter.com/hammond. Also, like us on Facebook by going to www.facebook.com and typing Hammond Research Station in the search box. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.