Richard Bogren, Owings, Allen D.
News Release Distributed 04/10/15
By Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – It may be hard to believe, but the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plants program is now 5 years old. With the announcement of our first 2015 selection – Henna coleus – we now have 29 Louisiana Super Plants. This list will grow to 32 outstanding plants by the end of 2015.
Coleuses are generating a lot of interest these days. The National Gardening Bureau has declared 2015 as the Year of the Coleus. Just look at the amazing variety of these plants available at area nurseries.
Why is the Henna variety coleus so great? One concern with coleus varieties is finding those that are less inclined to bloom. Coleus is grown for its colorful foliage, and the flower spikes are not generally desirable. Henna does not produce flowers under Louisiana growing conditions until mid to late fall. Many years, Henna has not flowered by first frost.
The foliage of Henna is highly fringed and sports shades of gold, chartreuse and reddish-purple on top and reddish-purple underneath. Plants reach 24-30 inches in height and do best planted in a full-sun to partial-sun landscape. Pinch plants once or twice a month after planting in spring to encourage branching and a tighter growth habit. Plant anytime this spring, and plants will last until the first killing frost.
Henna has been a proven performer in trials at the Hammond Research Station and at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden in Baton Rouge. Plants are very heat-tolerant, and insect problems don’t appear in the outdoor landscape.
The goal of the Super Plants program is to identify and promote exceptional plants that perform well in Louisiana. Some of these are new varieties, and some are older varieties with a proven track record.
The LSU AgCenter and Louisiana’s nursery and landscape industry, through the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association, identified the need for a state-based program that uses university research to identify and promote exceptional plants. The LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station, partnering with the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, leads the program.
Each Super Plant must have at least two years of rigorous evaluations and have a proven track record under north and south Louisiana growing conditions. Louisiana Super Plants must prove hardy across the state. Louisiana Super Plants must be easily produced and available for all nursery and landscape industry wholesalers and retailers to market and sell.
Louisiana Super Plants are selected a year or two in advance of a public announcement. The selection process includes LSU AgCenter horticulture faculty and members of the Louisiana nursery and landscape industry. The program results in home gardeners having an increased awareness of better-performing landscape plants.
Previous warm-season flowers designated as Louisiana Super Plant are BabyWing begonias, Bandana lantanas, Butterfly pentas, Little Ruby alternanthera (Joseph’s coat), Senorita Rosalita cleome, Serena angelonia, Luna hibiscus (rose mallow), Kauai torenia (wishbone flower), Mesa gaillardia and Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink butterfly bush.
April is the time to get serious with flower planting. Planting in April through early May will encourage plant establishment and provide improved performance through the summer. Plant Louisiana Super Plants to get the most from your landscape flowers.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website at www.lsuagcenter.com/hammond. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.