May 2018

Jean Pittman, Singh, Raghuwinder, Rouse, Lee, Fields, Jeb S.  |  7/17/2018 3:29:16 PM

On Thursday, April 5, the team at the Hammond Research Station welcomed over 100 members of Louisiana’s green industry to the Margie Jenkins Lecture Series and Open House. This was a fantastic turnout to this wonderful event, which featured a guided tour of the Ornamental Trial Gardens by Jason Stagg and Yan Chen. The tours focused on damage from our extreme winter weather. Additionally, the tours highlighted both woody ornamentals and our cool-season bedding material and, of course, our Louisiana Super Plants!

During the tours the industry representatives were brought to the Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden to discuss the development of my extension and research program that focuses on the commercial ornamental horticulture industry throughout the state. Afterward I provided an update on the current restructuring of the Louisiana Super Plant Program and gave an insider’s view on some of the new endeavors that are emerging in the Ornamental Trial Gardens.

After the tours, the attendees were treated to extremely informative lectures by two of the leading landscape architects in Louisiana, Dr. Neil Odenwald and Dana Brown. The team at the Hammond Research Station felt there was a great opportunity to bring landscape contractors and landscape architects together and share knowledge between two of the major sectors in our green industry. The goal is to establish and grow the relationship between the architects and contractors to ensure landscape projects continue to be sustainable and utilize the proper plant material for the specific situation. After the event closed, the fun was just getting started! Joey Quebedeaux and his friends cooked up an amazing lunch, and everyone had a chance to wind down and digest the day’s information.

As part of a new initiative, I met with parish agents for vigorous training sessions. As we progress with the extension program reorientation, I feel it is important that everyone have a shared and equal knowledge base. As a result, we were introduced to a new communication tool that will help horticulture extension agents communicate issues and ideas clearly and efficiently. After that, one of our new parish horticulture agents, Dr. Mary Helen Ferguson, presented on the basics of ornamental pathology diagnostics and provided some helpful tips on early identification and treatments. Then, J. Stevens provided an introduction into the LSU AgCenter Soil Testing and Plant Analysis lab and showed us some tips on how to ensure accurate results and how to interpret the subsequent soil report. Lastly, I, along with the Hammond Research Station team of Jason Stagg, Yan Chen, Ashley Edwards and Joey Quebedeaux, discussed how we prepare beds for planting in the Trial Gardens. When working with bed preparation, there are no correct and incorrect procedures. Everyone has a different variation that they follow. As such, this training session provided a grand opportunity for a dialogue between the Hammond Research Station and the horticulture agents throughout the state to share ideas and knowledge regarding the who, what, where, when, why and how of landscape bed preparation.

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Recapping the 2018 Margie Jenkins Lecture Series and Ornamental Horticulture Industry Open House at the Hammond Research Station

Dr. Jeb Fields

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Jason Stagg explaining the Hammond Research Station's bed prep

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Jay Stevenson covering soil fertility during the Agent Trainin

Exobasidium Leaf Gall

Dr. Raj Singh

Leaf gall of camellia and azalea is a fungal disease. This is primarily a leaf disease, but occasionally may occur on stems, flowers and seed pods. There are mainly two species of Exobasidium fungus that cause this disease; Exobasidium vaccinii on azaleas and E. camelliae on camellias. The disease is favored by extended periods of cool, wet weather during spring.

Symptoms of leaf galls start appearing soon after the plants finish flowering. Leaves are distorted and become thickened with a fleshy or leather-like texture (Figures 1 and 2). Galls tend to be pale green, pink or white (Figure 3) in the beginning, but as they develop, they become white and powdery. The white powder material is the spores of the fungus, which readily disperse via air currents and by splashing water. As the galls get older, they shrivel up, dry out and turn brown and hard (Figure 4). Older galls fall to the ground, where they survive and may serve as a source of incoculum for the next spring susceptible growth.

Management of leaf galls is achieved primarily by adopting good cultural practices in the landscapes. Proper pruning and discarding of galled leaves is very important in reducing the spread of the disease. Prune galled leaves couple of inches below the symptoms and before discarding them, put them in ziplock bags.

Remove and destroy affected leaves with galls that have fallen on the ground. Improve air circulation by selective thinning of the canopy of established plantings to promote rapid drying of foliage and maintain adequate spacing when establishing new plantings to avoid creating favorable conditions for disease development. Fungicides may help avoid infection when applied beginning at bud break. Repeated applications may be required every 10 days as long as the conducive weather conditions persist for disease development. For fungicide selection, please consult your local county agent. For more information on leaf galls of azalea and camellia, please contact Dr. Raj Singh at 225-578-4562 or email rsingh@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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Figure 1: Leaf gall on camellia
Dr. Raj Singh

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Figure 2: Leaf gall on azalea
Dr. Raj Singh

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Figure 3: Camellia galls showing color variations
Dr. Raj Singh

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Figure 4: Older mature gall turning brown on an azalea.
Dr. Raj Singh

Salvias in Hammond

Dr. Jeb Fields

After our harsh winter, one of the top performers in the garden this year is Salvia farinacea! With soil temperatures still relatively cool, we are thrilled with these plants, which are in full prominence. We have identified three varieties as early spring winners in Rebel Child, Henry Duelberg and Augusta Duelberg, all of which were introduced by Greg Grant from Texas. Both Rebel Child and Henry Duelberg are blue salvias, while Augusta Duelberg is a white.

Rebel Child’s complete distinction from all other salvias in our garden has made it through not only an extreme freeze this past winter but two floods in 2016, and it continues to produce amazing blooms and exhibit wonderful vigor! Currently, Rebel Child is already about 3 feet tall with deep-blue-colored inflorescences. A previous selection in the Louisiana Plants with Potential program, Rebel Child is considered one of the toughest and hardiest salvias you can plant and would make a fantastic addition to any garden. Easily propagated by cuttings, plant Salvia farinacea in full sun and watch it thrive. You will also notice that it is absolutely irresistible to pollinators, providing additional ecological benefits aside from its supreme aesthetics.

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Henry Duelberg

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Rebel Child

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Augusta Duelberg

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Henry Duelberg

Garden News:figjpg

It fig-ures these trees would grow well in the South

Lee Rouse

Figs, one of the most popular fruits grown in southern backyards, was one of the first fruits people cultivated.

Archaeological evidence dates fig cultivation to about 4000 B.C. A native of ancient Asia Minor (today's Turkey), figs were taken to Greece and other Mediterranean countries where they became so widely used fresh and dried they became known as “poor man’s food.”

Fig trees were imported to the United States sometime during the 16th century. They grow well in the south Atlantic and Gulf Coast areas and in parts of California.

Botanically, figs are one of the most fascinating fruits you can grow.

The fig is actually a fleshy, hollow branch, modified to bear numerous small flowers and fruit on the inside. At the tip of the fig is an opening called the eye or ostiole, which enables its pollinator, the fig wasp, to enter.

Interestingly, the fig wasp does not exist in Louisiana so fruit here is only produced by female plants that do not require pollination. Because pollination is no longer needed, the opening is not needed either.

Figs can now be produced that have a closed or plugged eye, an important characteristic for the humid South.

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What's Blooming in Hammond!

Photos by Jean Pittman

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Henry's Garnet Virginia Willow

Lee Rouse

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Gardeners have become more environmentally conscious over the past few decades. They are employing more environmentally sound principles in the landscape such as using less pesticides, composting more and even installing rain gardens. Gardeners’ plant palettes have also changed slightly. They are incorporating more pollinator-friendly plants as well as native species into the landscape.

Virginia willow, also called Virginia sweetspire and known botanically as Itea virginica , is one of our more popular native shrubs in Louisiana. Interest in this shrub has increased in the past 10-20 years with the use of the variety Henry’s Garnet. Henry’s Garnet Virginia willow is the newest addition to the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plants program for spring 2017.

The Louisiana Super Plants program is an educational and marketing campaign of the LSU AgCenter that highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well in Louisiana landscapes. Louisiana Super Plants have a proven track record; they are “university tested and industry approved.” Homeowners and horticulture professionals alike can benefit from using Louisiana Super Plants to ensure a successful landscape.

The intoxicating smell of the Henry’s Garnet Virginia willow flowers is a major feature of this native shrub. These white flowers are borne on 4-to-5-inch clusters. This shrub will bloom for a 4-to-6-week period in spring, starting roughly the same time azaleas finish up. The flowers stand out remarkably next to the lush, dark green foliage

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