Richard C. Bogren, Huffstickler, Kyle, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.
News Release Distributed 04/12/12
By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Kyle Huffstickler and Allen Owings
In 2010, the LSU AgCenter introduced a new ornamental plant education, promotion and marketing program called Louisiana Super Plants. It highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well in Louisiana landscapes. Plant selections are announced each spring and fall.
Last year, the spring bedding plants selected as Louisiana Super Plants were Serena angelonias and Butterfly pentas. Keep in mind that these are still great plants and worthy of significant use in the landscape.
Angelonias are one of the top new annual bedding plants over the past 10 years. Some of us may not have been familiar with angelonias until recently, and many gardeners are probably still somewhat unfamiliar with this new plant. Angelonias are also referred to by the common name of “summer snapdragon.”
The best of the angelonias are the seed-propagated Serena series. Flower colors in the group are pink, white, lavender and purple.
To plant angelonias, select a full-sun location with adequately drained soil. These plants have very good drought tolerance once they’re established. Use a slow-release fertilizer at planting, and expect plants to begin flowering shortly after being added to the landscape. Flowering will continue until the first killing frost if conditions and cultural practices are correct. In south Louisiana, angelonia may survive milder winters.
If you’re looking for some great summer color for your landscape beds from now through our first killing frost this fall, look no further than Butterfly pentas. Pentas may be among the best plants you can plant, and the Butterfly series is the best of the group.
Pentas do well when planted later in spring. Mid- through late spring is a great time to put them in the ground. You can create a gorgeous bed off “non-stop” flower color with pentas. The star-shaped flowers of Butterfly pentas come in blush, deep pink, several shades of lavender, red, deep rose and white.
Pentas prefer full to partial sun with mature plant height at 12-24 inches tall. Fertilize them at planting with a slow release fertilizer. They do not need much irrigation. Just water to get them established, then irrigate once weekly in the absence of significant rainfall.
You can use pentas in flower beds with other warm-season bedding plants. In addition, they would work well in a perennial border or as a filler or “thriller” plant in a container. And they can make nice cut flowers.
Butterflies and hummingbirds love pentas flowers; they are great nectar plants. Remove faded blossoms and lightly pinch overgrown plants to encourage continual flowering. You will have an abundance of butterflies anytime you have Butterfly pentas in the landscape.
Louisiana Super Plants are promoted to generate interest and awareness of these outstanding plants. Information is available through a wide variety of media. Look for information on Louisiana Super Plants in newsletters, magazines and newspapers and on television, radio and the Internet (www.lsuagcenter.com/SuperPlants). In addition, look for signs showing which plants are the Louisiana Super Plants selections at your local nurseries.
These two great plants from 2011 join this spring’s winners – BabyWing begonias and Senorita Rosalita cleome – to give you plenty of flower power in your landscape.
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 or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.Rick Bogren