HAMMOND, La. – Plants, shrubs, diseases and plant growth regulators were among the topics presented at the landscape field day held at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station on Oct. 11.
Nursery staffs, grounds crews, landscapers and the general public took in the information presented by LSU AgCenter specialists during the half-day event.
The purpose of the field day is to highlight research and to show people in the industry what is being done at station, said Regina Bracy, resident coordinator at the station.
“This is an opportunity to show people in the industry and the public how what we do here affects what they do in their daily lives,” Bracy said.
Those in attendance were able to see new plants and to learn new techniques that they can take back and introduce to their customers.
Instead of overwhelming attendees with the shotgun approach to providing information, Bracy said, the program concentrated on a few key factors that gave the greatest benefit.
“We are starting to promote the fact that we are the only station in the AgCenter system and in the South as far as we know, that is dedicated exclusively to landscape horticulture research and extension,” she said.
Attendees visited different research plots on the station to see which plants do best in various locations and situations.
Eddie Martin, a Belle Chasse landscaper, said he comes to the field day for the educational experience.
“Everything they talk about is important to me and the people in my business,” Martin said.
Martin said he always learns about the latest plants and what they can do. “But the biggest drawback is that there are so many different zones in Louisiana so what works well here may not work in New Orleans.”
LSU AgCenter researcher Yan Chen discussed her projects involving caladium landscape performance in sun and shade, the effect of plant growth regulators on Knock Out rose production and donations from growers to help sustain her research.
The caladium is loved by Louisiana growers and has been popular in the state for over 60 years, Chen said “Our research is driven by industry need, and this year the growers donated 5,000 caladium tubers at a value of $10,000.”
Chen also discussed her work with TopfloorG, a plant growth regulator that she is using to help growers reduce pruning, reduce production time and provide a means to control growth for better crop scheduling.
LSU AgCenter horticulturalist Allen Owings’ presentation dealt with some familiar and some not-so- familiar plants at the station.
“We’re talking to our attendees today about some of the ‘quote, unquote’ new plants that have landscape potential,” Owings said. “Phygelius, also called cape fusia is a good alternative bedding plant for a shade situation during the warm season in south Louisiana.”
Participants also were shown some of the Louisiana Super Plant trials, along with new varieties of butterfly bushes, copper plants and others that may help growers get away from the traditional plants they always use.
The Louisiana Super Plants program started in the fall of 2010 and names three or four ornamental varieties as Louisiana Super Plants each spring and fall.
Owings said the program recommends to home gardeners the best-performing landscape plants in the state.
Owings and LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Nick Singh each discussed the downy mildew problem that has shown up on impatiens.
“The downy mildew situation on impatiens has been very bad in Louisiana in 2012,” Owings said. “It really started in Florida a couple of years ago and has spread across the southern United States.”
Since impatiens is the No. 1 warm-season bedding plant, this disease has significantly impacted the landscape performance this year.
A lot of the problem with new diseases stems from plants being brought into the country from South America, Central America and other points of entry, Owings said.
Ornamental cotton was new to the field tour this year. Unlike regular cotton, this variety produces lint in various colors. And also unlike regular cotton, which takes six months to produce lint, this ornamental variety completes the cycle in 90 days.
In addition to the field tour, there also were exhibits, which included LSU AgCenter weed specialist Ron Strahan, “the Weed Doctor,” providing landscape weed identification and Nick Singh, “the Plant Doctor,” with his plant disease clinic.
Field day participants were able to see the Louisiana Super Plants in their natural environment and to gain information on the proper way to take care of them.
Field days are held at the station several times a year to provide information to nursery growers, retail garden center employees and managers, greenhouse growers and landscape contractors.
The research station recently received a grant from the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association to set up the infrastructure to install a new landscape bed area, Bracy said.Johnny Morgan
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