Richard Bogren | 3/15/2018 3:28:17 PM
U.S. Census data indicate nearly two-thirds of the state’s population lives in urban areas, and more than 70 percent of Louisianans own their own homes. With more than 1.7 million households, more than a million people have lawns to mow, gardens to tend and trees to care for. That’s where the AgCenter comes in.
AgCenter horticulture programs serve Louisiana with a number of resources.
AgCenter horticulture agents provide information through home visits and group presentations. They diagnose insect and disease problems, recommend solutions and provide advice about growing flowers, trees, bushes and vegetables.
The Louisiana Master Gardener program was started in 1994 to train interested individuals in the science of growing things. After extensive classroom instruction and a final exam, Master Gardeners provide valuable volunteer assistance to the AgCenter. Louisiana currently has nearly 2,700 Master Gardener volunteers who give seminars, answer questions at garden shows and provide horticulture services to local organizations.
AgCenter agents and Master Gardeners are active in presenting garden shows across the state. This spring’s garden shows include March 10-11 in Baton Rouge, March 16-17 in Covington, March 23-24 in Lake Charles, April 5 in Amite, April 7-8 in New Orleans and May 5 in Raceland. Besides providing a place for local businesses to reach the garden public, garden shows feature educational presentations and opportunities for individuals to have garden questions answered by AgCenter experts and Master Gardeners.
AgCenter trial gardens provide the opportunity for AgCenter researchers and specialists to evaluate new and established plants. The rose garden at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden, the AgCenter Hammond Research Station in Hammond and the Gardens of the American Rose Center in Shreveport feature trials of rose varieties to see how well they perform in Louisiana conditions. Other flower varieties are put into trial plots at Burden and Hammond to help commercial growers identify those that offer performance homeowners and growers prefer.
AgCenter researchers try new vegetable varieties in plots at Burden and give individuals the chance to try new varieties and rate them. The results are passed on to commercial growers, who use the information to make planting decisions for future seasons.
Other research trials at the Hammond Research Station include landscape ornamentals and trees as well as new research on olives and teas that may be adapted for Louisiana landscapes – both as ornamentals in homeowner landscapes and for commercial production.
AgCenter horticulturists have developed the Louisiana Super Plants program to promote hardy plants that have been university-tested and industry-approved. Evaluated and selected for superior performance under Louisiana growing conditions, Louisiana Super Plants are ideal for homeowners and professionals alike.
Another program called Plants with Potential is evaluating plant materials that are public and not protected by invention patents. These plants offer homeowners and growers the chance to produce and propagate adapted plants that have excellent landscape performance potential.
AgCenter Communications produces a series of media programs called Get It Growing featuring horticulturist Dan Gill, including newspaper columns and video spots. Each year a Get It Growing calendar is published full of gardening and landscaping tips for every month of the year.
All in all, the AgCenter horticulture programs serve a diverse Louisiana audience with educational programs and expert advice to keep the state green.
Rick Bogren is a professor with LSU AgCenter Communications and associate editor of Louisiana Agriculture.