Research station visitors vote on favorite plants

Richard C. Bogren, Owings, Allen D.

News Release Distributed 06/21/13

By Allen Owings

LSU AgCenter horticulturist

HAMMOND, La. – The LSU AgCenter held an industry open house for nursery, landscape and garden center professionals in late May at the Hammond Research Station.

The program included the inaugural Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden Horticulture Lecture Series featuring guest speakers Geoff Denny from Mississippi State University and David Creech from Stephen F. Austin State University. In addition to the lectures, attendees toured the sun garden research area at the station and were provided an introduction to the new Piney Woods Garden.

The Hammond Research Station hosts many field days and other events for industry representatives, consumers and Master Gardeners at various times during the year. During these events, visitors are offered the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice landscape plants. Participants vote on their favorite plants in the sun garden, where new annual bedding plants, roses, herbaceous perennials and new shrubs are grown in landscape-evaluation studies.

The industry winners in voting this spring include the Gold Winner – rudbeckia Early Bird Gold, Silver Winner – salvia Amistad and Bronze Winner – cuphea Trend Red Purple.

Early Bird Gold rudbeckia was released as a variety several years ago by Dupont Nursery in Plaquemine, La. It is a selection from the popular Goldstrum variety. Plants are vigorous and the black-eyed Susan-like blooms appear May through early July with a secondary bloom in late summer and into early fall.

Plants reach 3 feet in height and spread slowly over time. Our planting at the station is now five years old and is outstanding. Plants are fairly drought tolerant and do best in full sun locations. They should be fertilized in early spring when new foliage commences.

Amistad salvia is a gauranitica species and is one of the most sought-after new plants for 2013. It is an improved version of the popular Black and Blue variety and is part of the Southern Living Plant Collection from Plant Development Services, Inc. This plant will be perennial in south Louisiana and a reliable annual in north Louisiana.

The calyx at the flower bases is darker in color than the very dark purple to light black of the Black and Blue variety, and the flowers are a darker shade of royal purple. Plants reach 3-4 feet tall with an equal spread by fall. Plants prefer full sun and moderate irrigation. They should be pruned occasionally during the year to control plant size.

The Trend cuphea, also called cigar plant, is a relatively new series on the market with the red purple variety preferred. All colors in the series have performed well in Hammond. The flowers are larger than similar cupheas, and the plants have larger leaves and are slightly more vigorous. Our trial plants were obtained from Pacific Plug and Liners in California.

These plants are not readily available in the nursery trade in Louisiana, but several growers and retailers are highly interested in them.

Other plants receiving enough votes to deserve honorable mention are listed here by variety and source:

– Buddleia Buzz Velvet (Pacific Plug and Liners)

– Petunia Fame Violet Dark Eye (Selecta)

– Delphinium Diamonds Blue (PanAmerican Seed)

– Gardenia Jubilation (Southern Living Plant Collection / PDSI)

– Buddleia Flutterby Petite Pink (Ball FloraPlant)

– Buddleia Miss Ruby (Proven Winners)

– Coreopsia tinctoria (Almost Eden Plants)

– Cleome Senorita Blanca (Proven Winners)

– Supertunia Vista Bubble Gum (Proven Winners)

– Verbena Enduro White Blush (Ball FloraPlant)

– Ornamental millet Purple Majesty (PanAmerican Seed)

– Salvia Rebel Child (SFASU Gardens/Greg Grant)

– Petunia Tidal Wave Cherry (PanAmerican Seed)

– Verbena Temari Trailing Cherry Red (Suntory)

– Red Texas Star hibiscus (Generic)

– Buddleia Miss Molly (Proven Winners)

– Hardy gloxinia – Sinningia tubiflora (Generic)

The new Piney Woods Garden is an ongoing addition at the station that will eventually feature up to five acres of dogwoods, hydrangea, yellow flowering magnolias, ornamental Prunus, abelia, native azaleas, new Encore azaleas, vitex, new maple varieties and species, improved magnolia and sweet shrubs, and much more.

One study includes a large collection of Japanese maples with Gulf Coast landscape adaptability. The majority of plantings will be completed by fall 2013.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.

Rick Bogren
6/21/2013 11:32:16 PM
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