Some bedding plants like it hot

Richard Bogren, Huffstickler, Kyle, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  4/22/2011 12:19:23 AM

News Release Distributed 04/21/11

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists
Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings

We are approaching the time of spring to get your heat-loving, warm-season bedding plants into the ground. Anytime from mid-March through May in Louisiana is a great time to add new flowers to your landscape beds.

Some bedding plants prefer early-spring planting; some prefer April planting, and some even prefer to be planted after nighttime temperatures warm and soils really warm up in May. Among these, angelonias, vinca, caladiums and pentas are a few plants to consider.

The Serena series of angelonia, also called summer snapdragon, is a Louisiana Super Plant for this spring and is best planted in April. This outstanding summer bedding plant can be relied upon for dependable garden performance though the hottest summer weather.

Four soft colors in the Serena series blend together beautifully – Serena Purple, Serena Lavender, Serena Lavender Pink and Serena White. A new Serena Blue will be available soon. All of these plants are compact, growing 12 to 14 inches tall and about as wide.

Masses of flower spikes cover these plants from late spring to frost. Plant them in sunny beds from early to mid-April in south Louisiana or from mid-April through early May in north Louisiana. You also can continue planting them through early summer.

Caladiums are actually best planted in mid-April through May, although most home gardeners plant them early. If you want a great foliage-type bedding plant for shady locations, caladiums are the perfect fit. Some caladiums will perform well in full sun, but all aren’t reliable in locations with more sun than shade.

You can purchase caladiums as corms (tubers), or you can buy them already growing in 4-inch containers. Either way is fine. Don’t plant them too deep. And avoid over-watering caladiums during summer.

Butterfly pentas are distinctive for their compact growth habit, large flowers and excellent garden performance. Superb heat and humidity tolerance make this summer bedding plant a reliable choice for Louisiana gardeners.

Clusters of five-petaled flowers are produced continuously all summer from spring to first frost. The series includes a variety of colors – Butterfly Deep Rose, Butterfly White, Butterfly Blush, Butterfly Deep Pink, Butterfly Light Lavender, Butterfly Lavender and Butterfly Red. The flowers are rich with nectar and are highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

Plant them in full sun, partial sun or partial shade. The Butterfly pentas are another Louisiana Super Plant for this spring.

Vincas are reliable for summer-through-fall landscape performance. Plant them in May. Vincas, also called periwinkles, need well-drained, acid soil. They do best in a full-sun, dry location, so limit irrigation.

There are many vincas to select from. New series include Cora and Nirvana. Another relatively new one is the Titan series, which has larger flowers. You can also plant the Pacifica and the Cooler series.

These are just a small sampling of great flowers for Louisiana summers. You also can consider melampodium, blue daze, perennial salvias, coleus, lantana, zinnias and more. You’ll be pleased with any of them.

Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse and www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.

Rick Bogren

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