News Release Distributed 01/26/11February is American Heart Month, and women throughout America will again wear red on the first Friday in February to raise awareness of heart disease. National Wear Red Day is Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, and is part of the American Heart Association’s “Go Red For Women” campaign that seeks to empower women to take charge of their heart health and live longer, stronger lives, says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. “Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both women and men,” Reames says. Women and men respond differently to a heart attack, Reames adds. Women are less likely than men to believe they're having a heart attack and more likely to delay in seeking emergency treatment. In addition, women tend to be about 10 years older than men when they have a heart attack. They also are more likely to have other conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Reames offers these suggestions to keep your heart healthy: – Eat a variety of nutritious foods, including grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, beans and milk. “Although you may be eating plenty of food, your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy,” Reames says. “Make smart choices by choosing nutrient-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products, that have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. – Eat vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control weight and blood pressure, too. – Choose whole grains. Unrefined, whole-grain foods contain fiber that can help lower blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight. – Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease. – Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated fat or trans fat. – Select fat-free, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy products. – Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet. Trans fats raise bad blood cholesterol levels. – Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day. – Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. – Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. – Maintain a healthy weight. “The number of calories you need each day is based on your age, physical activity level and whether you're trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight,” Reames says. “Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Read food labels carefully – the Nutrition Facts panel will tell you how much of those nutrients each food or beverage contains – and keep an eye on portion sizes.” – Aim for at least two and one-half hours a week (30 minutes a day) of moderate physical activity. Walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and general gardening are examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities. “Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness,” Reames says. “If you can’t do at least 30 minutes at one time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day.” – If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation – one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
News Release Distributed 01/21/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen OwingsLandscape shrubs roses like the popular Knock Out varieties are all the rage in the rose world right now, but we have a number of other great landscape shrub roses that can be considered. The LSU AgCenter evaluates roses at the Hammond Research Station in Hammond and at Burden Center in Baton Rouge. We also have rose plantings at Louisiana House in Baton Rouge. Some of the recent All-America Rose Selection (AARS) winners are good performers for us in Louisiana. While most roses now sold fall into the landscape shrub category, we have some nice floribunda roses available that have been released in the last five to 10 years that merit increased use. 2010 saw only one AARS winner – Easy Does It. This variety is a floribunda from Weeks Roses. The flower color is a mango, peach and apricot blend. Petal count is 25-30. Easy Does It performed very well in the AARS display garden at Burden Center in 2009. In addition, it was named a People’s Choice award winner at the LSU AgCenter’s landscape horticulture field day held at the Hammond Research Station in 2009. A new floribunda for 2011 and an AARS winner for this year is Walking on Sunshine. Tight clusters of bright yellow buds burst open with an anise aroma. This plant’s super-glossy, disease-resistant foliage contrasts beautifully with the cheery, eye-catching flowers. Walking on Sunshine is easy to care for and great for beginners. It’s a floribunda with fantastic bloom production and great vigor. Walking on Sunshine was hybridized by Keith Zary of Jackson and Perkins Wholesale. In addition to the two floribunda roses that are AARS plants for 2010 and 2011, some of the other newer, good floribunda roses are Cinco de Mayo, Julia Child, Easy Going, Hot Cocoa, Livin’ Easy and Moondance. Cinco de Mayo has lavender flowers with a hint of rusty red-orange. Plants are maintained at a height of 3 feet. Uniqueness of bloom color is what sets Cinco de Mayo apart from other roses. The variety has some blackspot susceptibility when over-irrigated or when rainfall exceeds normal amounts. Julia Child has obtained good popularity the past few years. It’s another floribunda rose that’s very accepted by nursery professionals. The plant has a medium-size growth habit. Flowers are buttery gold, have 35 petals and are fragrant. Julia Child is a former AARS winner and performs well in Louisiana. Easy Going was introduced in 1996 and is sold at garden centers in Louisiana. In the past, it has done well in the AARS display garden at Burden Center in Baton Rouge. It has a yellow bloom with a little bit of golden bronze. Flowers sit tightly on top of the foliage. A chocolate-orange-to-dark red-flowering floribunda is Hot Cocoa. It is an AARS winner from 2003. Flowers have a deep rusty orange reverse. Good bloom size is also characteristic of this rose variety. Livin’ Easy is an older floribunda rose. It was released as an AARS winner in 1996 and has ruffled, apricot-orange flowers with 22-28 petals. The flowers have a fruity fragrance. Moondance is a Jackson and Perkins floribunda rose of the year. It has sweet, raspberry-scented, creamy white flowers. It has received good “roses in review” ratings from Gulf District members of the American Rose Society. A taller-growing rose, this variety reaches 5 feet tall in the landscape. It is a much more beautiful rose than its parent, the popular, white floribunda Iceberg. Some floribunda roses generally are lower-maintenance plants when compared with hybrid tea and grandiflora roses. They may take a little more care than landscape shrub roses, however. They also can be grown under low irrigation and need less pruning and fertilization. Typically, shrub and floribunda roses also have reduced susceptibility to blackspot disease. Roses need good bed preparation, full sun and a soil pH of 6.5. Give some of these a try. 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.
News Release Distributed 01/14/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen OwingsLouisiana Arbor Day is the third Friday in January. But many home gardeners and landscape professionals plant shade trees during the fall and winter months. People are learning that this is the proper time of the year to plant, but improper planting practices sometimes present issues regarding the long-term landscape success of these trees. We need to be aware of some of the common mistakes made in planting, establishment and follow-up care of trees. Many times poor tree performance in our residential landscapes can be traced to improper planting techniques. Here are a few common things to consider when adding new trees to your landscape: – Select a good-quality tree. You would think this would be obvious, but some trees offered for sale aren’t good quality. Make sure the species and variety is recommended for Louisiana. Is the plant overgrown in the container? Inspect the trunk of the young tree for any bark damage. – Select the right tree for the right place. Be sure the tree you’re considering will work in the environment where it is being planted. Consider mature height and mature spread and allow enough room for the tree to develop to its full mature size without regular pruning. Make sure the characteristics of the site – such as soil pH, soil drainage and sun and shade exposure – fit the tree. – Don’t plant too deep. The top of the root ball should be at the same level or slightly higher than the soil grade. Do not cover the lower trunk with soil. And be careful with over-mulching. This has the same detrimental effects as planting too deep. We recommend 3-4 inches of mulch spread evenly underneath a tree’s canopy. But don’t plant too shallow. If the top of the root ball is exposed to air, the root system will dry out. – Dig the hole to the proper width. The width of the planting hole should be two to three times wider than the tree’s root ball. This allows for lateral root development and expansion. Remember that tree roots need to grow out from the planting hole. – Inspect for root-bound trees. Cut the encircling roots enough to encourage their outward root growth and prevent future circling. – Avoid modifying backfill soil. Backfill soil is the soil removed from the planting hole. The current recommendation is to return to the planting hole the soil that came from it. Don’t amend this soil with pine bark, compost or similar materials. A change in the soil texture from the planting hole to the surrounding soil will cause water from the surrounding soil to migrate into the planting hole and saturate the root system. This “soup bowl” effect can damage or even kill the tree by holding too much moisture. – Water appropriately after planting. Newly planted trees need to be sufficiently watered-in. This eliminates from the soil air pockets that dry out the root system. Apply water at the edge of the original root ball and outward. Don’t apply water next to the main stems. – Avoid radical pruning at planting. The only pruning that should be done at planting is to remove any dead or broken branches or suckers. Leave some branches on the lower part of the trunk for a year or so – this encourages trunk development. Excessive pruning of shoots at planting can also promote additional shoot growth at a time when root growth is is more important. 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.
News Release Distributed 01/07/11 By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Proper pruning is one of the most neglected and misunderstood of all gardening practices, yet it is one of the most important best management practices in a residential or commercial landscape when done properly. Pruning is a skill and an art. It is a skill in making cuts that properly heal or callus over to seal off the wound from disease and infection and an art in making the right cuts in the right places to get the plant to take on a more pleasing form. Pruning should be practiced as a vital part of the maintenance program for all shrubs and trees. Most shrubs will require some pruning annually and may require special attention to correct defects caused by mechanical injury or attack by insects and diseases. Important items to consider prior to pruning include: – Your goal in pruning. – The method that will be used (natural vs. formal). – The ideal time of year to prune this plant. – How flowering or other plant performance may be affected. – How this particular plant responds to pruning. Why prune? Pruning is done to remove dead, diseased, dying or decaying wood. Sometimes we refer to this as the four Ds of pruning. You also can prune to manage plant size and maintain a particular form for design specifications. Pruning, in some situations, can be done to rejuvenate old plants. Pruning flowering shrubs depends on the times they bloom. Prune late-winter- and spring-flowering shrubs after they flower. If spring-flowering shrubs are pruned during winter, you’ll be removing flower buds. Examples in this category include azalea, spirea, mock orange, quince, hydrangea, weigelia, forsythia, gardenia, camellia, viburnum, deutzia and flowering almond. Azaleas that flower in spring need to have pruning completed by late June or early July in order not to affect the flower buds being developed for the next spring. Summer-flowering shrubs are pruned from mid- to late winter, before spring growth. Some plants in this group are crape myrtle, oleander, vitex and althea. Most evergreens not planted for their flowers should be pruned in the dormant, winter season, but some pruning may be done throughout the year. No rules cover all pruning. The important consideration should be preserving the natural form of a particular species. The extent of annual pruning will depend on the plant. Some shrubs may require the removal of a considerable amount of wood each year, while others require little pruning. It is much better to prune lightly each year rather than severely butcher a plant after several years of growth. When pruning, first remove weak and spindly wood inside or near the ground. Next reduce the height of the plant to the desired level by making cuts at various levels, always keeping in mind the natural form of the plant. One rule for cane-type plants like nandina and mahonia is to remove one-third of the oldest and tallest canes near the ground each year. This will keep the height of the plant at a reasonable level. Several special plant types or categories need special treatment for specific training purposes. These include espaliered plants, topiary or “poodled” plants and other landscape oddities. These may need to be pruned on a more regular basis to maintain the intended growth form. 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.