News Release Distributed 02/25/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen OwingsGrowing roses in Louisiana is a challenge for landscape professionals and home gardeners alike. A major problem in rose production and landscape performance is disease (blackspot and powdery mildew, primarily) brought on by environmental conditions of our region. Heat and humidity have an adverse affect on many rose varieties we grow in Louisiana. The growing popularity of landscape shrub roses has stimulated new interest in roses over the past few years. Traditionally, modern roses – such as hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora varieties – have dominated the market. Landscape shrub roses in the modern-rose category were a small percentage of the modern rose market in the 1990s, but that has totally reversed. This trend has been driven, in large degree, by the tremendous success and popularity of the Knock Out rose varieties. One of the major rose evaluation projects under way at the LSU AgCenter is participating in evaluation of Earth-Kind roses and varieties that are candidates for this program. The Earth-Kind project was initiated about 15 years ago by Texas A&M University. One of the initial goals was to locate the best “yellow rose of Texas.” But now it includes the goal of testing and recommending roses for low-maintenance landscapes. This includes the evaluation of numerous rose varieties, particularly those classified as shrub roses. Characteristics considered in these evaluations are low irrigation requirements, minimum pruning requirements, desirable flowering characteristics, minimum insect susceptibility and resistance or low susceptibility to blackspot and other devastating rose diseases. There were eleven original Earth-Kind rose varieties: Belinda’s Dream, Caldwell Pink, Carefree Beauty (also called Katy Road Pink), Climbing Pinkie, Else Poulsen, Knock Out, Marie Daly, Mutabilis, Perle d’Or, Sea Foam and The Fairy. In the initial evaluation process conducted in Texas, these were the best-performing. In 2006, Spice and Duchesse de Brabant were added, and in 2007, Ducher and Georgetown Tea joined the list. Two new Earth-Kind roses continue to be added to the list each year. More recent Earth-Kind rose varieties are Madame Antoine Mari and New Dawn in 2008 and La Marne and Souvenir de St. Anne’s in 2009. The 2010 Earth-Kind roses are Cecile Brunner and Reve d’Or, and Mrs. Dudley Cross and Monsieur Tillier were Earth-Kind roses for 2011. This brings the total number of Earth-Kind roses to 23. A new Earth-Kind rose planting is underway at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station. The AgCenter is an official university partner with Texas A&M University in the Earth-Kind rose program. These rose varieties may have limited availability in Louisiana, but some can be found at independent retail garden centers around the state. If you find them, you should have great success with these plants. 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.
News Release Distributed 02/22/11 Homeowners living on property passed down from family sometimes can’t take advantage of their property rights. This problem gained attention after the 2005 hurricanes when some Louisiana residents were unable to receive federal and state aid for property damage, said Jeanette Tucker, LSU AgCenter family economist. “They owned their homes. They even paid property taxes. But legal documents didn’t list them as owners so they lacked ‘clear title,’” she said. Their homes were passed down through generations by family agreement, but not through the legal system, Tucker explained. “They owned ‘heir property’ and couldn’t receive Road Home government aid or finance repairs,” she said, adding that heir property issues are common in both rural and urban areas throughout Louisiana. Tucker said heir property comes about when necessary legal work isn’t done after a property owner dies. “If you do nothing, the right to live on the property goes to a living heir, who is related to the deceased property owner by blood or marriage, or named in a will,” she said. The heir legally owns the property, but the property’s title does not automatically pass to the heir. Even if the property owner had a valid will, the heir still must take the original to court to get clear title, Tucker said. According to Tucker, if you do not have clear title, you may not be able to: – Sell your property. – Make repairs to the property. – Borrow money against the property. – Cash an insurance check. – Deal with a bank on a foreclosure. – Qualify for government aid to fix your house. – Get a homestead exemption for taxes. – Get notice of actions by the city or parish if they try to take your home from you. – Have a court rule on “claims of heir” in a lawsuit against those falsely claiming to be heirs of the original owner. Getting clear title used to be expensive and time consuming; however, Act No. 81, passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 2009, simplifies and reduces the cost of the process, Tucker said. “Act No. 81 lets heir property owners file an ‘Heirship Affidavit’ that can get them clear title to homes they live in if the estate is valued at less than $75,000,” Tucker said. This process can reduce legal fees and filing costs. An Heirship Affidavit is a statement under oath by two or more heirs (including the surviving spouse, if any) as to certain facts. “It can only be used if the property owner died without a valid will and must be filed after 90 days from the property owner’s death,” Tucker said. Generally the Heirship Affidavit requires: – Date of death of the deceased and his home address at the time of death. – Marital status of the deceased and the name and address of the surviving spouse, if any. – Names and last known addresses of the heirs and their relationship to the deceased – Legal description of the property. Other actions property owners can do to protect their property include: – Make sure your property taxes are paid. – Have a valid will. – Make a family tree to help family members know who their relatives are. If you think you may have heir property valued at $75,000 or less, Tucker advises calling an attorney. Explain that you want to file an Heirship Affidavit. “The attorney can walk you through the process, determine whether you qualify and describe information that you may need to get clear title,” Tucker said. Useful documents to bring to your attorney visit include deeds, tax receipts, death certificates and obituaries, she said. Tucker recommends a publication, “Protect Your Property: Heir Property in Louisiana,” available from Louisiana Appleseed at http://louisiana.appleseednetwork.org. It is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
News Release Distributed 02/18/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings Southern live oaks, known by the scientific name Quercus virginiana, are one of the most popular trees found in Louisiana landscapes. They certainly are considered to be a signature tree in many public places across the state and are widely used in home landscapes. They are very familiar to visitors on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. And live oaks make the news when development threatens individual plants. You can register and name 100-year-old live oaks with the Live Oak Society operated by the Louisiana Garden Club Federation. Live oaks certainly are one of Louisiana’s most sustainable trees. The winter months are a great time to provide care and maintenance to your live oak trees. From selecting trees at the garden center to planting, pruning and fertilization, this is the time of year for live oak maintenance. Live oaks are grown at many wholesale nurseries in Louisiana and are one of the most sold trees at garden centers. If you intend to plant a live oak, select a tree with a well-developed central leader system. And be sure the tree was properly pruned at the nursery. Proper pruning at a young age is important for live oaks long term. Most home gardeners should plant trees growing in 3- to 15-gallon containers, although you can purchase live oaks that are much larger. It is hard, however, for an average homeowner to handle planting trees larger than those growing in a 15-gallon container. When planting, be sure to follow LSU AgCenter tree-planting recommendations: – Make the planting hole the same depth and two to three times as wide as the container in which the tree has been growing. – Make the sides of the planting hole rough, not smooth. – Put into the planting hole the same soil that came out of it. – Do not amend this backfill soil with compost, pine bark or similar materials. – Water the tree during the planting process to eliminate dry pockets that will desiccate the new growing roots. – Mulch trees after planting. Be sure to give your new live oak tree adequate room. Most of the time, live oaks are now planted on 30-foot-by-30-foot spacings. This is, however, way too close. You also see live oaks planted on 60-foot-by-60-foot spacings. This is OK. But ideally, live oaks need to be planted on 90-foot centers. We all see live oaks in front yards that have basically no room for a tree this large. Also, live oaks routinely are planted between streets and sidewalks. Once again, this is the wrong tree in the wrong place. Be sure to plant live oaks where they have room to grow and do what they want to do. Fertilization of live oaks is not recommended the first year after planting. You can start a fertilization program thereafter. During the first year, growth emphasis on the tree should be directed to the root system. Nitrogen fertilizer applications during this time favor shoot growth at the expense of root growth. Mature live oaks may benefit from fertilization, or they may not need fertilization at all. The tree needs to be examined for new growth. If new growth, as measured by shoot elongation, is significant, fertilization is not needed. If not much new growth or no new growth is apparent, fertilization or other cultural practices may be needed. A licensed tree-care professional should examine your mature live oak trees in most of these situations to determine a course of action. Live oaks originating from seed sources in Louisiana will grow best in Louisiana. In other words, do not expect acorns obtained from a tree in Texas to produce a tree in Louisiana that would grow as well as it would grow in Texas. We are fortunate to have the Orange Island live oak, a sexually produced variety, propagated here in Louisiana by Live Oak Gardens in New Iberia. It is a very vigorous-growing live oak and is better than other varieties. Wholesale growers also now have access to the Cathedral and Highrise varieties of live oak. These are asexually propagated from stem cuttings and produce trees that are similar in growth habit, size, etc., so they have a uniform look in a landscape planting. These are not being grown in large numbers in Louisiana, and their availability is limited for home gardeners. Live oaks are one of our most important trees. Provide proper care to these great trees. 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.
News Release Distributed 02/11/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen OwingsPetunias are one of the most popular flowers in Louisiana. They can be planted in fall for cool-season color or planted in late winter or early spring for warm-season color. Common questions pertaining to landscape performance of petunias include: What can be done to extend their flowering time in the landscape? Are there variety differences? What are the requirements for planting time, watering and bed preparation? You can plant petunias from September through early November and from late January through mid-March. They do better during winter months in south Louisiana. Their performance through winter depends significantly on how cold the winter is. Petunias are available in many colors. They come in single-flowered and double-flowered varieties. Normally, the single-flower forms are more reliable than the double-flower forms long-term. Some best management practices for petunias include: – Properly prepare the bed to allow for good internal drainage and aeration. – Add fresh, nutrient-rich, finished compost to beds to provide nutrients. – Apply a slow-release fertilizer at planting as part of a traditional fertilizer approach. – Make sure petunia beds have a soil pH between 5.5-6.0. – Select a full-sun planting location. If you want to extend petunias longer into summer, plant in a partially shaded location but realize flowering will be less. – Complete late-winter and early-spring petunia planting by mid-March. – Consider the Wave, Easy Wave, Tidal Wave and Madness varieties. Many others will, however, provide satisfactory performance. – Irrigate only when needed. Over-watering leads to root rot and stem dieback problems. – Be aggressive and plant in masses for the best visual enhancement. –Deadhead lightly after the first peak bloom for performance longer into late spring. Petunias are popular bedding plants and are not difficult to grow. Just follow these recommendations and select nice, vigorous, healthy plants to get started. 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.
News Release Distributed 02/09/11 The 2010 Dietary Guidelines, released in January by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, are the first to address an unhealthy public, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. With a majority of the country’s adults either overweight or obese, the new recommendations are especially urgent for consumers and health professionals, Reames said. The Dietary Guidelines provide “a healthy, balanced approach to weight management, which focuses on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages and engaging in regular physical activity,” Reames said. The goal of the new guidelines is to help individuals maintain a calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight. The guidelines also recognize the influence of the food environment on choices and help steer people away from food containing high amounts of saturated fats, sodium and refined grains the less frequent choice. “These guidelines recommend a shift in food consumption patterns, encouraging people to eat more of some foods and less of others,” Reames said. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood. The guidelines call for less salt, sugar, solid fats, trans fats and refined grains in the diet. A significant change in the guidelines is a reduction in salt intake for half the population – including African-Americans, people 50 or older, and those with diabetes, hypertension or chronic kidney disease. This population should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium – a little more than a half teaspoon a day. For those not included in the restricted groups, the guidelines continue to advocate only 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. Americans typically consume twice that amount, Reames said. She said the best way to not exceed sodium recommendations is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and limit foods with hidden sodium such as breads, pasta and processed foods. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense and can help people lower their saturated fat intake. The guidelines recommend that less than 10 percent of calories come from saturated fats. They also encourage the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as tuna and salmon. “The old guidelines gave vague suggestions to eat more fruits and vegetables. The new guidelines urge people to make half their plates fruits and vegetables,” she said. The guidelines also have changed from recommending servings to recommending a specific amount of food in ounces. Old guidelines, for example, recommended eating two servings of fish a week. The new guidelines specify eating eight ounces of fish. “Serving size differs from person to person,” Reames said. The guidelines encourage consumers to enjoy their food, but to reduce the amount. Reames said learning to control portions at home and at restaurants can help people achieve a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Distributed 02/07/11By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings It’s early February, but that doesn’t mean the the season’s over for cool-season plants. You can still plant trees and shrubs over the next month or two. And you can plant cool-season flowers this month to enjoy through late spring and early summer. If you do, consider adding some of the inaugural cool-season Louisiana Super Plants. If you missed its debut, the Louisiana Super Plant program is a recommendation, promotion and marketing effort designed to provide reliable suggestions on great plants for Louisiana home gardeners. Last fall, ShiShi Gashira camellia, Camelot foxglove and Amazon dianthus were announced as the initial Louisiana Super Plants. ShiShi Gashira is a small-growing camellia, and the absolute best of the fall-flowering shrubs for Louisiana’s cool season are the camellias. Many small-growing camellias belong to the sasanqua and hiemalis species that are great for fall and winter bloom. The most popular of the hiemalis, frequently misidentified as a sasanqua, is ShiShi Gashira. This variety has a slow to moderate growth rate, so size can be managed. It also has large flowers for a hiemalis and has a long blooming period – blooms start in mid- to late October in Louisiana and last until mid-January. You can expect 90 days of bloom from these great plants. The best of the new dianthus is the Amazon series. These are very prolific flower producers and can be planted September through early November or February through March. Flower heads are large and will last until mid-May in south Louisiana and until late May or early June in north Louisiana. This series also has cut-flower potential. Remove old flower stalks to encourage the continuation of the bloom season. Flower colors available in the Amazon series are Rose Magic, Purple, Cherry and Neon Duo. Amazon dianthus are Dianthus barbatus interspecific hybrids. Camelot foxgloves are new to the market. These are also called digitalis. For best results, plant them in fall or late winter to early spring. Flowers come on 2-foot-tall spikes in spring. Flowers come on 2-3 weeks before the popular Foxy variety and last 2-3 weeks longer. Removing old flowers also will extend the bloom time on these plants. Foxgloves are best suited for a partially sunny location – light afternoon shade would be ideal. Flowers colors in the Camelot foxglove are lavender, cream, rose and white, with lavender, cream and rose being the better-performing colors. These are the three cool-season Louisiana Super Plants that you still have time to consider. All are durable and low-maintenance. Watch for information on the spring 2011 Louisiana Super Plants starting in mid-March and continuing through early May. 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.