Fall is for shrub planting

Richard Bogren, Huffstickler, Kyle, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.

Frostproof gardenia

News Release Distributed 10/08/10

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings

Shrubs make up the main background plants for most home landscapes. They have defined growth habits in terms of height, spread and form. When selecting shrubs, choose those that will ultimately meet your design requirement.

If you have the space for a 3-foot-by-3-foot shrub but plant one that will mature at 15 feet in all directions, chances are you’ll soon be dissatisfied with your selection. Don’t attempt to artificially manipulate a plant’s form and size to conform to unnatural shapes. Instead, choose specimens that have the forms that meet your design specifications.

Shrubs are divided into two groups based on their leaf-retaining characteristics. Those that drop all of their leaves at one time of the year (usually late fall) and are bare of leaves for a period are called deciduous plants. Evergreen plants drop their foliage throughout the year, never going through a period where they have no leaves. Some plants do not fall into a specific category because leaf retention can be determined by environmental conditions. These groups may be classified as semi-evergreen or semi-deciduous.

The well-designed landscape contains both deciduous and evergreen plants. Seasonal change is accented by using both types. You can achieve greater contrasts in plant form, texture and color with a variety of plant types. Using best management practices to properly place deciduous and evergreen plants in a landscape improves energy conservation in both summer and winter.

Popular shrubs planted in Louisiana landscapes include azaleas, camellias, sasanqua, hydrangeas, Indian hawthorn, cleyera, ligustrum, dwarf yaupon, holly and gardenias.

Fall through early spring is the best time to add new shrubs to the landscape. It’s best to add shrubs into existing landscape beds. When you plant, follow these procedures for optimal establishment.

Begin by digging a hole at least twice as wide and at the same depth as the root ball. After digging, ensure that about 1 inch to 2 inches of the root ball is raised above the level of the surrounding soil. Use your hands or a knife to loosen any roots that have been matted while growing in the container. Also, cut through any circling roots.

After you fill the hole with the soil you removed, water-in the plant to release any air pockets. Mulch with 2-3 inches of pine straw after planting is completed.

Selecting shrubs recommended for Louisiana, choosing a good-quality plant at the nursery, following proper planting procedures and providing recommended follow-up care will lead to success with your shrub efforts.

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.

Rick Bogren
1/4/2011 1:13:49 AM
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