New uses for proven plants highlighted at Hammond field day

Johnny Morgan, Chen, Yan, Bracy, Regina P., Owings, Allen D.  |  7/1/2009 11:51:46 PM

News Release Distributed 07/01/09

HAMMOND, La. – Ornamental plants like cannas can provide a simple, effective and aesthetic method of removing excess nutrients in storm water or nursery production runoff, according to research conducted at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station.

“One of the areas that we are researching is the use of ornamental plants in urban storm water management,” Dr. Yan Chen, an LSU AgCenter researcher at the station, told more than 80 landscape and horticulture industry professionals who braved the 90-plus degree temperatures to attend the June 25 landscape horticulture field day at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station.

Chen said her research shows that using these plants can reduce the need for expensive filtration treatments.

“This is also a new marketing tool to promote ornamentals already being produced by our growers for use in retention ponds, constructed wetlands and rain gardens,” she said.

The field day crowd included landscape contractors, landscape architects, garden center retailers and wholesale growers, said Dr. Regina Bracy, resident coordinator at the station.

“This is a way for us to get information out to a large number of our clients at one time,” Bracy said.

The field day provided an opportunity for attendees to tour the station grounds, to see the latest research projects and to ask questions about the best and worst plants for south Louisiana’s climate.

Before the tour, Dr. Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist, provided each participant with three small flags before the tour to stick in the ground beside the plants they found most interesting.

“We will go back and compile the results and post that information on our Web site,” Owings said. “This information will help us to determine which plants will generate interest in retail settings.”

Others LSU AgCenter researchers at the field day included:

–Dr. Ed Bush, who presented information on the different types of bark used as growing media.

–Dr. Jeff Beasley, who explained how cutting height can control torpedo grass in centipede lawns.

–Dr. Ron Strahan, who discussed weed identification and control.

–Dr. Don Ferrin, who provided plant disease identification.

Owings said the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station is the largest site in Louisiana for ornamental plant evaluations.

“In our annual bedding plant/herbaceous perennial trial gardens, we have 324 varieties in the sun garden and 132 varieties in the shade garden,” he said.

Among the plants holding up well in the heat are lantana, zinnias, ornamental peppers and ornamental sweet potatoes, Owings said.

Owings said the horticulture and landscape industry in Louisiana employs 56,000 individuals and contributes more than $2.2 billion annually to the state's economy.

More information is available by contacting the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station at 985-543-4125 or visiting the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com/Hammond

Johnny Morgan

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