Landscape horticulture research highlight field day

Johnny Morgan, Strahan, Ronald E., Bracy, Regina P., Wells, Daniel

LSU AgCenter researcher Yan Chen discusses her work with caladiums under different light conditions. She’s looking at the difference in the plants’ performance in both sun and shade. (Photo by Johnny Morgan)

News Release Distributed 10/16/13

HAMMOND, La. – The latest research findings from ongoing studies, information about new pests and tours of the gardens at the Hammond Research Station highlighted a field day held on Oct. 10.

This annual event is an opportunity for nursery staffs, ground crews, landscapers and the general public to tour the gardens and get answers to questions they may have.

The field day allows people to see various new plants and what is being done at the station, said Regina Bracy, resident coordinator at the station.

“We are part of the ornamental industry in this area,” she said. “There are three areas in the state. There’s Forest Hill, which is near Alexandria, Lafayette and here.”

This area includes a variety of people in production, retail and contract work installing and maintaining plants, Bracy said.

The field day attracts industry people from all over south Louisiana who didn’t have access to this type information just a few years ago.

“There was no landscape research being done in the AgCenter just a few years ago. We saw a need, so we approached the chancellor and he supported it,” Bracy said.

More than 175 participants saw the various gardens during the tour. AgCenter researchers shared the findings of their studies, and others gave plant health updates.

LSU AgCenter horticulturalists Allen Owings, Yan Chen and Daniel Wells led the care and maintenance tour where they discussed the caladium sun trial, phosphorus fertilizer landscape studies, organic fertilizer landscape demonstration and rose varieties.

Wells said his phosphorus fertilizer landscape study is evaluating how different rates of phosphorus affect plant growth.

“What we see is that many locations we want to use for landscape plants already have enough phosphorus,” Wells said.

He wants this research to help avoid legislation that other states are facing because of phosphorus runoff.

LSU AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan discussed some of the most difficult weeds to get rid of in landscape beds.

“There are several tough weeds to control at this time of the year,” Strahan said. “One of the toughest being the bush killer vine.”

This weed doesn’t produce viable seed, but it’s difficult because it engulfs the flower bed.

“The problem this presents is you can’t just spray something over the flower bed because you will kill your desirable plants along with the weed,” Strahan said.

LSU AgCenter horticulture researchers Charlie Johnson, Gina Hebert, Chen and Wells presented field research on plant growth regulators, crape myrtle evaluations, the hardy perennial hibiscus and new ornamental plant development.

As part of the plant health updates, AgCenter scientists Dennis Ring, Melanie Ivey, Raj Singh and Ed Bush covered a broad spectrum of issues, including the infestation of crazy ants, crape myrtle bark scale and crown rot in liriope.

Gregory Tyler, owner of Tyler Lawncare and Landscaping in New Orleans, said the field day was a good opportunity to learn new things and to ask questions to people with the answers.

“I received information in the mail about this field day, and I saw that this is a good place to learn some of the things that I need to be doing as well as what I should not be doing,” Tyler said.

New Orleans Horticulture Society President Kevin Taylor said the field day was very helpful to him and his organization.

“The good thing about this is everything is done for you, so you don’t have to go reinvent the wheel,” Taylor said. “They take all the risks, and they can tell you when to plant and if the plant should be used in your landscape.”

Taylor said the New Orleans Horticulture Society, established in 1885, is the second-oldest professional organization in the country.

“Since all of our members can’t attend the field day, I share what I learn. Sometimes we invite Dr. Allen Owings to our meetings, and he does presentations,” Taylor said.

Mary Elliott, who said she has a “small one-horse nursery” and does landscape maintenance, said she attended the field day because she knew she could find answers to her questions.

“I have torpedo grass in my monkey grass,” Elliott said. “And I wanted to find out how to get rid of the torpedo grass without killing the monkey grass.”

Elliott said in addition to how beautiful the garden is, she also likes the way the garden shows what’s real. “If something didn’t make it or if there’s an insect problem, you see that.”

Bracy told the crowd she knew three hours would not be enough time to show all that there is to see, so she invited them all to come back when they have more time.

“We are getting quite a name for ourselves. People come out to visit all the time,” Bracy said.

Since last year the station has added a piney woods garden, 38 new beds, a collection of maples and a collection of hydrangeas, Bracy said.

The total gross value of nursery crops in Louisiana for 2012 was more than $1.15 billion, according to the Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Johnny Morgan

10/16/2013 7:15:59 PM
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