News Release Distributed 10/28/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Your landscape can include many trees and shrubs that will provide significant color in fall and winter year after year. Although decidedly less than spectacular this far south, many trees in late November or early December produce leaves that turn various colors as they get ready to drop. A few trees that reliably color up well in Louisiana include: ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), Chinese pistachio (Pistachia chinensis), Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), dogwood (Cornus florida), Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), southern sugar maple (Acer barbatum) and some oaks. Generally, the farther south you live in Louisiana, the less fall color you will see. Plants also provide color in fall and fruit in winter. Hollies, with their brilliant red berries, are notable in this regard. Excellent choices for Louisiana include the popular Savannah holly and Foster’s holly (Ilex x attenuata Savannah and Fosteri), both small trees. Beautiful native hollies include the yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), deciduous holly (Ilex decidua) and winterberry (Ilex verticillata). A great thing about holly berries is that they are excellent wildlife food for birds. Shrubby hollies also produce colorful berries. Varieties include Burford, Dwarf Burford, Nellie R. Stevens, Needlepoint, Dixie Star, Dixie Flame and many others. For flowers in fall and early winter, choose sasanquas (Camellia sasanqua). Sasanquas are one of those indispensable shrubs for Louisiana landscapes and bloom from October well into December. Camellias (Camellia japonica) will begin to bloom in November and continue through winter until spring. Roses are also important for fall and early-winter color. Everblooming roses put on a wonderful show in October and November and will often continue to bloom through mid-December and beyond, weather permitting. Although generally not known for their fall blooming, azaleas that bloom during seasons other than spring are becoming more popular. The Encore azalea series is well known for fall bloom. Also notable are some of the Robin Hill azaleas such as Watchet and Conversation Piece and the popular Glen Dale variety Fashion. We often associate spring with colorful landscapes, but we need to remember that foliage and flowers can be achieved in the fall season with proper plant selection. 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 or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.
News Release Distributed 10/20/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Last fall, the LSU AgCenter announced a new plant marketing and promotion program called Louisiana Super Plants. The program identifies superior plants for Louisiana landscapes and assures wholesale growers are growing and retail nurseries are carrying the selections. Then, we get the word out to the gardening public about these outstanding plants. One of the debut Louisiana Super Plants from last fall was the Camelot series foxglove. This new foxglove earned its Super Plants title because it’s a significant improvement over varieties planted in the past. Foxgloves (Digitalis species and hybrids) are biennials or short-lived perennials. In Louisiana, we grow them as cool-season annuals from October-November to April-May. They bloom in spring or early summer and then typically die in the summer heat. Because Camelot foxgloves planted from seed bloom their first year, they are excellent for use in our climate. The Camelot series foxgloves come in four colors – Camelot Rose, Camelot Lavender, Camelot Cream and Camelot White. This hybrid series is bred to be especially strong and vigorous-growing. And these foxgloves are somewhat more heat-tolerant than foxgloves used in the past, allowing Camelot foxgloves to bloom well into late May or early June. Especially notable is an improvement in the flower spikes. The flowers are larger, and the spikes are taller than previously grown varieties. The bell-shaped flowers of foxgloves are arranged around a strong, tall stem that grows from the center of the plant. Typically, the flowers tend to hang down so you cannot see into the beautifully spotted throats. The flowers of Camelot foxgloves, however, are held more horizontally, creating a fuller-looking flower spike and revealing the spotted interior of the flowers. Louisiana gardeners are accustomed to (and even demand) that bedding plants be in bloom when they are purchased. Some cool-season bedding plants, however, will provide far superior results if they are purchased when young and before the colorful display begins. Good examples are ornamental cabbage and kale, delphiniums and hollyhocks. Young, not-yet-blooming transplants of these plants are best planted in fall or late winter – from November to February – for blooming in April, May and early June. Foxgloves also belong to this group. During winter these plants are perfectly hardy to whatever cold may occur, and there is no need to cover and protect them. During mild winter weather the plants will grow strong root systems and rosettes of large, slightly fuzzy leaves that are a beautiful addition to the winter flowerbed. For best results, get plants in the ground no later than the end of February to give them time to grow into large, vigorous plants before they bloom. A fall or late-winter planting will produce the most spectacular plants with the tallest and largest number of spikes. Most cool-season bedding plants prefer full sun, and Camelot foxgloves will grow in sunny locations. But they also do very well in beds that receive only 4 to 6 hours of sun per day. The foliage is typically darker green and larger in partly shaded spots. Plant foxgloves into well-prepared beds that have been generously amended with compost or other decayed organic matter and a light application of general-purpose fertilizer. Good drainage is important. Place the plants toward the back of the beds where the colorful 3- to 4-foot-tall flower spikes will form a dramatic background. These robust-growing plants should be spaced about 12 inches apart. After the main spike finishes blooming, cut it back, and the plants will send up numerous side shoots to continue the floral display for additional weeks. Eventually, with the hot weather of early summer, the plants will begin to play out and can be removed, composted and replaced with summer bedding plants. Camelot foxgloves are in your local nurseries now. It is best to plant them in the fall for best results. But garden centers also sell them in late winter and early spring. 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 or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.
News Release Distributed 10/14/11 By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Are you looking for something new to try in your cool-season landscape this fall and winter? There is much to select from in the way of annual flowers for planting during the cool season of the year. Most of us know about pansies, snapdragons, petunias, garden mums and older varieties of dianthus, but there is much more. Violas are the cousins of pansies and continue to gain in popularity. The Sorbet series of violas always perform well in LSU AgCenter landscape plant evaluations. The series blooms early and performs well from mid fall through May. Try these great alternatives to pansies. They should be planted in mass for a great flower show. The blooms will last two weeks longer into the later spring. Nicotianas are good alternative, cool-season bedding plants for south Louisiana. Nicotiana is flowering tobacco. Most of these for landscape use are “dwarf” in size but still reach heights of 24 inches. Nicotianas have less cold hardiness than some other cool-season flowers, so that needs to be considered. In south Louisiana, they should be able to withstand winter temperature conditions as long as plants are hardened off some before the first frosts and freezes. You also can plant them in mid- to late February. Plants will last until late spring. Flower colors available include white, lime, rose, red and more. They do best during the cool season in a full sun planting, but will perform better into late spring if partial shade is provided. Popular in the series are Nicki, Perfume and Saratoga. The best of new dianthus is the Amazon series. These are very prolific flower producers and should be planted in September, October or November. Flower heads are large and will last until mid-May in south Louisiana. The series also has cut-flower potential. Flower colors available in the Amazon series are Rose Magic, Purple, Cherry and Neon Duo. The Amazon dianthus are Louisiana Super Plants from 2010. Camelot foxgloves are new to the market. These are also called digitalis. For best results, plant in the fall, and 2 foot-tall spikes of flowers occur in the spring. Flowers come on 2-3 weeks before the popular Foxy variety and last 2-3 weeks longer. Camelot foxgloves were also Louisiana Super Plants in the fall of 2010. Flowers in the Camelot foxglove are lavender, cream, rose and white, with lavender, cream and rose being the better-performing colors. We know tall-growing delphinium, but now there is smaller variety for landscape beds. Diamonds Blue delphinium has intense blue flowers and is a new seed-propagated Delphinium chinensis. This plant is considered a first-year-flowering perennial but should be treated as an annual. Plant in full sun in the fall for great flowering performance from February through May. Space plants 12-14 inches apart. Plants reach a height of 18 inches with a 10- to 12-inch spread. If you want to try a tall grower for cut flower use, try the Guardian series. They are available in lavender, white and blue. We know ornamental kale and cabbage, but do we know the best? Redbor ornamental kale is incredible. It is a Louisiana Super Plant for this fall. It is one of the most vigorous-growing and heat-tolerant ornamental kales on the market. Extremely curly foliage, early dark purple foliage and a spring height of 3 feet are characteristic of this plant. You may also want to try Glamour Red, a new ornamental kale that is a 2011 All-America Selections winner. 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 or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.
News Release Distributed 10/07/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Encore azaleas have gathered consideration attention over the past 10 years, but we need to remember we had great, fall-flowering – sometimes referred to a multi-seasonal-flowering – azaleas before the Encore varieties. A great example is the Fashion azalea variety. But another azalea group widely planted in Louisiana for fall blooming is the Robin Hill hybrids. These azaleas resulted from hybridization work conducted by Robert Gartrell of New Jersey in the 1950s and 1960s. These have large flowers on hardy plants, good form and foliage, and an intermediate growth size. Other main attributes are cold hardiness and an extended blooming season. Most years, Robin Hill azalea varieties will bloom for six months in Louisiana. You can get two to three months of bloom in spring and another three to four months in late summer through early winter. This group includes 70 varieties with 10-12 readily available in Louisiana. Louisiana nursery growers begin growing these popular azaleas in the 1980s, and they continue to be used around the state today. Varieties of the Robin Hill azaleas for Louisiana include Conversation Piece, Watchet, Nancy of Robin Hill, White Moon, Dorothy Rees, Roddy, Gwenda, Sir Robert and Sherbrook. Flower colors vary from white to pink, blush, bicolors and more. The newest variety is Freddy, a beautiful white-flowering sport of Watchet. It, however, is limited in availability for home gardeners right now. Some of the Robin Hill azaleas are being considered for Louisiana Super Plant status in the future. These azaleas are evergreen, just as most of the traditional azaleas. Most Robin Hill varieties are slow- to medium-growth-rate plants and reach mature heights of 3-4 feet with an equal spread. Just as with other azaleas, they prefer a partial sun to partial shade and need acid, well-drained soil. After planting and during the establishment phase, irrigate as needed to aid in plant establishment. Robin Hill azaleas should be pruned in spring within 2-4 weeks after the bloom cycle is completed. Fertilize in the spring also with a slow-release fertilizer after flowering. Mulch azalea beds with pine straw. Intermediate-growing azaleas, like Robin Hill varieties, work well in foundation plantings with Knock Out roses, Indian hawthorn, loropetalums and other popular shrubs. They are also great for use in beds underneath trees as a companion plant with hydrangeas and native shrubs. Including small-growing trees, such as redbuds and Japanese magnolias, add appeal to an azalea planting, and Japanese maples go great in azalea gardens as a smaller, signature, focal tree. 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 or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.
News Release Distributed 10/06/11 When asked what Halloween means, kids usually put candy at the top of their list. But research shows that given a choice between treats and toys, kids will often prefer the toys, according to Beth Reames, LSU AgCenter nutritionist. She encourages people to choose miniature toys, stickers and nonfood favors as their treats to dispense to the costumed beggars who come to their doors on Halloween. “Temporary tattoos, bracelets and rings, whistles, pencils, coupons to food establishments or pennies and nickels are also welcome gifts,” Reames said. Nonsweet food suggestions include peanut butter and cracker packages, sugar-free gum, cereal bars, individually wrapped sticks of beef jerky, juice box packages, small packages of dried fruit and packets of instant cocoa mix. “Some foods such as nuts and seeds and round or hard candy are not appropriate for small children because they may cause choking,” she said. You can still have fun with Halloween treats without contributing to dental decay or obesity: – Make sure children eat before going out. Cut bread in pumpkin shapes, add lean meat, chicken or turkey and serve with a glass of low-fat milk and sliced fresh fruit. – Walk with children while trick-or-treating instead of driving in the car. – After trick-or-treating, share your child’s excitement by letting him or her show you the bag of treats. Inspect all treats to make sure none have been opened or tampered with. – Encourage children to separate goodies into groups that are similar in ingredients or color of wrapper. Make a game of eating just one from each type of goodie, rather than the whole bag. – Halloween treat bags usually provide enough goodies for two to three weeks. Divide the treats into one-week portions, place in bags and store for your child to enjoy one or two pieces for snacks or with meals for the next weeks. – Help your child remember to brush his/her teeth or at least rinse his/her mouth thoroughly with water after eating sweets, especially sticky sweets, to help prevent tooth decay. Ideas to help adults cope with Halloween candy include: – Buy candy at the last minute to avoid tempting yourself and other family members. – Buy less candy than you think you need and don't buy your favorite kind. – Take leftover candy to work to share with co-workers. – Work off the extra calories from holiday candy by taking a long walk around your neighborhood and enjoying the decorations and the children’s costumes. Here are some recipes for Halloween treats that keep yummy and healthy in balance: Halloween Party Popcorn Combine popcorn with your choice of the following ingredients: Raisins and other dried fruitCandy cornNutsGummy wormsOrange/black candies such as jelly beans By mixing Halloween candy with popcorn, you cut back on the total amount of candy offered. Serve with a scoop from a large bowl. Or fill a self-closing sandwich bag with popcorn mixture for each child. Popcorn is a good choice for healthy eating. A cup of popcorn (popped) contains only 31 calories when popped without added fat. Popcorn provides fiber, or roughage, that the body needs in the daily diet. Halloween Cereal Balls 1/4 cup margarine or butter1 package (10 oz.) marshmallows2 tablespoons orange-flavored gelatin6 cups crisp rice cereal1/2 cup candy corn Combine margarine and marshmallows in 2-quart glass bowl. Microwave (high), uncovered, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed. Add orange gelatin; mix until combined. Stir in cereal until well coated. Mix in candy corn. Cool enough to handle. With buttered hands, form mixture into 24 balls. Place on waxed paper until cool. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap for storage. Mixture can be pressed into greased 13x9-inch baking pan and cut into squares for serving.