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Fall is for planting shrubs

A new bed of azaleas at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. (Photo by Allen Owings. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

News Release Distributed 09/28/12

By Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist

Shrubs make up the main background plants for most home landscapes. Many home gardeners plant shrubs during spring because that is when most of us think about gardening and that is when garden centers have the best availability. But, fall is the best time to add shrubs to the landscape.

Shrubs have definite growth habits in terms of height, spread and form. When selecting shrubs, choose those that will ultimately meet your design expectations. If you have the space for a 3-foot-by-3-foot shrub but plant one that will mature at 15 feet in all directions, chances are you soon will be dissatisfied with your selection.

Do not attempt to artificially manipulate plant form and size to conform to unnatural shapes. Instead, choose specimens that have the forms that meet your design specifications.

Shrubs are divided into two groups based on their leaf-retaining characteristics. Those that drop all of their leaves at one time of the year – usually late fall – and are bare of leaves for a period are called deciduous plants. On the other hand, evergreen plants drop leaves throughout the year, never going through a period where they have no leaves. Some plants do not fall into a specific category because leaf retention can be governed by environmental conditions. These groups may be classified as semi-evergreen or semi-deciduous.

The well-designed landscape most often contains both deciduous and evergreen plants. Seasonal change is accented by using both types. Greater contrasts in plant form, texture and color are achieved with a variety of plant types. Using best management practices to properly place deciduous and evergreen plants in a landscape improves energy conservation in both summer and winter.

Popular shrubs planted in Louisiana landscapes include azaleas, camellias, sasanquas, hydrangeas, Indian hawthorns, cleyera, ligustrums, dwarf yaupons, hollies and gardenias.

Examples of azalea include the Encore and Robin Hill multi-seasonal bloomers and large-growing spring bloomers – belonging to the Southern Indica group. You also can try Frost Proof gardenia, Penny Mac hydrangea and ShiShi Gashira camellia – all Louisiana Super Plants.

When planting, follow these procedures for optimal establishment:

– Begin by digging a hole at least twice as wide and to the same depth as the root ball of the plant you have.

– After digging, ensure that about 1 inch to 2 inches of the root ball is raised above the surrounding soil.

– Loosen with your hands or a knife any roots that have been matted while growing in the container. Also, cut through any circling roots.

– Place the plant in the hole and fill in with the soil you removed.

– Water in the plant to release any air pockets.

– Mulch with 2-3 inches of pine straw after planting is completed.

Selecting shrubs recommended for Louisiana, choosing a good-quality plant at the nursery, following proper planting procedures and providing recommended follow-up care will lead to success with your shrub efforts.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by viewing the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals.

Rick Bogren

Last Updated: 9/25/2012 3:19:39 PM

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