New Orleans – An almost-steady chill in the air doesn’t mean you have to let your landscape lose its beauty, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill, told a Lunch and Learn audience at New Orleans City Hall on Dec. 3.
Gill was the inaugural speaker for what LSU AgCenter agent Bertina McGhee says will be a monthly event.
“We’re sponsoring this Lunch and Learn program here in order for city hall employees, as well as the public, to experience some of the research-based educational programs that the LSU/SU AgCenter offers,” McGhee said.
During the lunch hour meeting, Gill discussed cool-weather bedding plants and how to make the most out of your garden during cooler months.
“I like to emphasize gardening this time of year because we get this attitude in the fall that things are winding down, the seasons are changing and winter is coming, so there’s not much we need to be doing or planting right now,” Gill said.
But he reminded the audience that one of the great things about living in a warm climate like Louisiana’s is that beautiful, colorful plants can be grown throughout the seasons.
“There are a few things we need to remember when planning the fall flower garden though,” Gill said. “First is color. A lot of people forget to have a color scheme.”
Most people wouldn’t think of getting dressed in the morning without a color scheme, Gill said. “We choose color schemes for our indoor spaces, but when it comes to buying plants at the nursery, sometimes we just go to the nursery and grab everything.”
Gill’s advice is to choose a few colors you think look good together, but try to limit the number of colors you use.
Some of the plants Gill said do best this time of year are pansies, petunias and snapdragons.
“Each of these plants will do really well in cool weather,” Gill said. “The petunias will do well because they are very hardy even in colder weather.”
For cold protection, Gill said, he often sees people making some major mistakes.
“I know you’ve seen people just throw a sheet or something over the plants, and it’s there just flapping in the wind. This is really not doing any good because the heat you’re really trying to capture comes from earth,” he said. “You need to bring the cover all the way to the ground and seal it so the plant gets heat from the ground.”
Another mistake people make is putting plastic over their plants for cold protection. “Plastic offers no insulation, so if the plastic is touching the plants, they will freeze, and you’ll see the burned leaves when you remove the cover,” he said.
After Gill’s presentation he took questions and offered to return at a later date to conduct another presentation focusing on cold-weather plant protection.
“At the January meeting, we’re planning to answer the question of ‘What is Green?’” McGhee said. “Crescent Region housing agent Steve Picou will be the guest and will talk about sustainability and energy-efficiency.”
McGhee said nutrition will be the February topic because February is heart awareness month.