Its not too late for cool-season Louisiana Super Plants

Richard Bogren, Huffstickler, Kyle, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  2/8/2011 1:08:48 AM

Camelot foxglove -- a Louisiana Super Plant. (Photo by Igor Kamalov. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

Camelot foxglove -- a Louisiana Super Plant. (Photo by Igor Kamalov. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

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Distributed 02/07/11

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

It’s early February, but that doesn’t mean the the season’s over for cool-season plants. You can still plant trees and shrubs over the next month or two. And you can plant cool-season flowers this month to enjoy through late spring and early summer. If you do, consider adding some of the inaugural cool-season Louisiana Super Plants.

If you missed its debut, the Louisiana Super Plant program is a recommendation, promotion and marketing effort designed to provide reliable suggestions on great plants for Louisiana home gardeners. Last fall, ShiShi Gashira camellia, Camelot foxglove and Amazon dianthus were announced as the initial Louisiana Super Plants.

ShiShi Gashira is a small-growing camellia, and the absolute best of the fall-flowering shrubs for Louisiana’s cool season are the camellias. Many small-growing camellias belong to the sasanqua and hiemalis species that are great for fall and winter bloom. The most popular of the hiemalis, frequently misidentified as a sasanqua, is ShiShi Gashira.

This variety has a slow to moderate growth rate, so size can be managed. It also has large flowers for a hiemalis and has a long blooming period – blooms start in mid- to late October in Louisiana and last until mid-January. You can expect 90 days of bloom from these great plants.

The best of the new dianthus is the Amazon series. These are very prolific flower producers and can be planted September through early November or February through March. Flower heads are large and will last until mid-May in south Louisiana and until late May or early June in north Louisiana.

This series also has cut-flower potential. Remove old flower stalks to encourage the continuation of the bloom season. Flower colors available in the Amazon series are Rose Magic, Purple, Cherry and Neon Duo. Amazon dianthus are Dianthus barbatus interspecific hybrids.

Camelot foxgloves are new to the market. These are also called digitalis. For best results, plant them in fall or late winter to early spring. Flowers come on 2-foot-tall spikes in spring. Flowers come on 2-3 weeks before the popular Foxy variety and last 2-3 weeks longer. Removing old flowers also will extend the bloom time on these plants.

Foxgloves are best suited for a partially sunny location – light afternoon shade would be ideal. Flowers colors in the Camelot foxglove are lavender, cream, rose and white, with lavender, cream and rose being the better-performing colors.

These are the three cool-season Louisiana Super Plants that you still have time to consider. All are durable and low-maintenance. Watch for information on the spring 2011 Louisiana Super Plants starting in mid-March and continuing through early May.

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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