March 2018

Jason Stagg, jpittman, Rouse, Lee, Chen, Yan

Jeb Photo1jpgWe would like to introduce Dr. Jeb S. Fields as the LSU AgCenter’s new assistant professor and extension specialist for commercial ornamental horticulture. Jeb has recently started work at the Hammond Research Station to develop an engaging and continually evolving extension program. Among his many responsibilities, Jeb manages the Hammond Research Station Trial Gardens, where he aims to provide a top-of-the-line demonstration area for Louisiana ornamental crops and conduct trials to seek out new plant material and stay at the forefront of the intersection between Louisiana’s ornamental production and landscape industries. Jeb also has a research appointment through which he conducts research aimed at benefiting Louisiana’s nursery and landscape industry and creating a nationally recognized research program.

The focal area of Jeb’s work and expertise is water. He is motivated by a passion for water and natural resource stewardship and by his interest in incorporating sound practices to build a more profitable and sustainable horticulture industry. While Jeb is actively seeking to expand his knowledge base and develop techniques to improve the industry, he currently provides assistance in his areas of expertise, including soilless substrate physics and hydrology, plant water relations, irrigation technology and automation, landscape systems and soil science. Jeb believes that his extension and research program should be geared toward applied research with a direct focus on industry needs. But he also believes it is also important to push the envelope and continually seek new and exciting avenues that can further the industry. Prior to moving to Louisiana, Jeb received his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, an M.S. from North Carolina State University and a B.S. from University of Florida. Jeb is from Winter Haven, Florida, where he grew up around the agricultural industry. As a child, his family owned and operated a retail nursery and garden center and they currently own and operate large tractor dealerships in central Florida.

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Dr. Mary Helen Ferguson is now an Associate Extension Agent with horticultural crop responsibilities for Livingston and Tangipahoa Parishes. She grew up in Bogalusa, LA. After getting a B.S. in biology from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, she completed a master’s degree in horticultural science at North Carolina State University, where she did strawberry production research. After graduating, she worked as an extension agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension for 5.5 years. In 2012, she returned to Louisiana and pursued a Ph.D. in plant pathology at LSU, working on the bacteriumXylella fastidiosain rabbiteye blueberry. She worked with the LSU AgCenter Plant Diagnostic Center for one year after receiving her degree. There, her work focused on phytoplasma diseases of palm and integrated pest management in pepper. She began her position with Extension on February 15.

AAS Trials at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden

Aubrey Cooper , Landscape Manager

The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens All-America Selections Trials garden provides the public with an opportunity to view the newest All-America Selections winners in an attractive, well-maintained setting. Across the country, almost 200 All-America Selections gardens provide educational programs about the All-America Selection trialing and awards process through open house or field day events during peak growing seasons.

This year the Botanic Gardens has the honor of hosting the 2018 Summer Summit! We anticipate this event will draw a larger crowd to our garden and trial grounds.

The All-America Selections national and regional winners have been tested for garden performance by a panel of expert judges, including two of our staff, Aubrey Cooper and Keith Lewis. Varieties that perform best over all of North America become AAS national winners. Entries that performed particularly well in certain regions are named AAS regional winners.

An AAS trial ground is one of the most important elements in the process of declaring AAS winners. Our trial ground is in the Food and Fiber Research Facility area of the Botanic Gardens where our professional horticulturists work in the field, and the AAS entries are planted next to control varieties. Once the AAS entries are transplanted into the trial ground, Aubrey and Keith observe and evaluate their performance. At the end of the trial season, the judges send their scores and evaluations to the AAS office for tabulation.

This year Aubrey will be trialing the ornamental side of the 2018 entries. Those entries include a yellow cactus-flowered calendula, a compact Deep Rose nasturtium Deep Rose,a top-flowering Bright Rose nasturtium, a dianthus F1 hybrid, a petunia F1, a begonia red F1, an ornamental pepper F1, a larkspur, an ornamental bean, a marigold double F1 and a zinnia double F1. These selections will be trialed against similar varieties and scored on a scale from 1 to 5. These seeds were sown in several groupings at different times and in different ways according to the instructions sent with the seeds. Seeds were sent in mid-December, and the first round of sowing in the greenhouse was done on Jan. 10. The second round was done on Feb. 12. The last round of sowing will be done directly in the field at the same time transplants are planted.

2017 AAS Trials

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‘Julia Child’ Named ARS Gulf District Rose of the Year
Dr. Allen Owings

Julia Child BJ IJPGThe Gulf District of the American Rose Society, which includes rose growers and hobbyists in Louisiana and Mississippi, has named the Julia Child cultivar as the 2018 Gulf District Rose of the Year.

The award came because “rose growers and enthusiasts surveyed in the local area have been impressed with the great landscape performance of this popular floribunda variety,” said Allen Owings, Gulf District director for the American Rose Society.

If you desire an easy-care floribunda, Julia Child is for you.

Julia Child is a medium-yellow floribunda hybridized by Tom Carruth. In 2005, when Weeks Roses offered famous chef Julia Child the opportunity to select a rose to be named after her, she fittingly chose a butter-yellow rose.

The cupped, old-fashioned blooms of Julia Child have a sweet licorice fragrance with an average of 30 to 45 petals forming 3-inch blooms. The blooms are produced individually or in small clusters, which repeatedly bloom throughout the season. The foliage is a glossy medium green.


The stems have a generous supply of prickles. In Louisiana the bush is easily controlled as a 4-foot, medium-sized, compact plant in the ground or pot. This rose has a highly recommended rating in the American Rose Society rose ratings for landscape performance.

Julia Child is heat tolerant, and while it is listed as very disease tolerant, it will greatly benefit from spraying three to four times annually (February, April, June, September) and will keep more foliage and, therefore, produce more blooms.

Prior winners of the Gulf District Rose of the Year include Belinda’s Dream in 2015, Cinco de Mayo in 2016 and Mrs. B. R. Cant in 2017. These varieties, along with Julia Child, are available from a wide range of local independent retail garden centers and mail-order nurseries.

Julia Child is very worthy of being added to your rose plantings in 2018.

This Weekend's Spring Garden Shows and Activities
Lee Rouse

Spring is a very busy yet fun time on LSU’s campus. There are many wonderful events taking place the weekend of March 10th and 11 th. The Garden Show is the center piece of the weekend with many vendor selling rare and usual plants. If the freeze got the best of your tropical plants or you are just ready to dive into spring, this show will be sure to not let you down. Shopping and buying plants can certainly work up an appetite, but no fear the state chili cook off will be more than happy to feed you. Additional information on this weekend’s event is listed below:

16th Annual Baton Rouge Spring Garden Show and Arts and Craft Fair
Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11, 2018
9:00 – 4:00 each day
John M. Parker Coliseum, Highland Road, LSU Campus
For additional information please contact:
(225) 335-1099

The floor of the coliseum will be transformed into a fascinating world of plants and gardens. The show includes numerous vendors selling a tremendous variety of plants and yard, garden, and patio related merchandise. A number of arts and crafts vendors will also have products for sale. Next door you can sample and talk with some of the world’s best chili cooks. See some great classic cars and street rods in the parking lot on Sunday.

12th Annual Louisiana State and Regional Chili Cook-Off
Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11, 2018
10:30 – 4:30 each day
Next to the John M. Parker Coliseum, Highland Road, LSU Campus

Lots of food, fun, and entertainment. Proceeds from the “Chili for Children” event will benefit the children at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital. For additional information please contact: Jason Blevins (225) 806-9306 or Eric Miller (225) 933-9760

9th Annual Baton Rouge Spring Car Show
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Next to the John M. Parker Coliseum, Highland Road, LSU Campus
Registration: 9:00 – Noon ($25.)

All models and years welcome. Proceeds from the event will benefit a local charity.

For additional information please contact:
David Himelrick at: or (225) 335-1099

More Spring Garden Shows here

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Salvia farinacea 'Rebel Child'

This particular variety of Salvia farinaceae , along with its family members Augusta Duelberg and Henry Duelberg, are typically perennial salvias in Louisiana. Its cold hardiness is illustrated by new growth at the soil level.

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Thuga 'Firechief'

Thuga'Firechief' – Nice dwarf arborvitae for our region. The cool autumn initiated red shades of foliage, while colder temperatures pushed colors into bronze/rust. This variety should produce light green colored new growth in the spring.

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Verbena 'Homestead Purple'

One of our most popular Louisiana Super Plant selections, this Verbena even demonstrates semi-evergreen qualities during unusually harsh winters like we are currently experiencing. The older damaged shoots can be removed in early spring.

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Distylium 'Linebacker'

Distyliums are still new taxa of ornamental evergreen plants for the industry. This preformed as expected, showing no signs of cold damage. Look closely at the photo to see inconspicuous flower buds that show during cooler weather months.

Virginia Buttonweed – My yearly “get ready for buttonweed pep talk!”

Dr. Ron Strahan

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Virginia buttonweed is the No. 1 weed in southern lawns for a reason. Be diligent! Buttonweed is not a “one application and it’s over” weed. Spray this plant early and often with herbicides to prevent mats of the weed and stop it from smothering out turfgrass.

Virginia buttonweed is widely considered the most invasive weed infesting turfgrass in the South. The plant is prolific and has multiple ways to reproduce, including heavy seed production that occurs both above and below the ground from self-pollinating flowers, rooting stem fragments and taproots that allow plants to survive through winter months. Mowers set at even the lowest blade height do not interfere with growth or seed production of this plant. Due to the potential for stem fragments to root, mowing may aid in the spread of buttonweed. Turning the mower deck discharge toward landscape beds could even start populations of buttonweed in flowerbeds.

Virginia Buttonweed Control?

Virginia buttonweed is tolerant of most selective herbicides used for weed control in turf, especially when plants harden off in late summer. Managing the weed should start early in the spring as perennial plants emerge from winter dormancy.

Typically, April is a good month to begin spraying buttonweed in spot applications. Perennial plants that went dormant after the first frost usually emerge in March and April depending on your location in the state. Seedling plants germinate around the perennial “mother” plants as temperatures warm in the spring. During this early growing season, perennial plants are tender with new growth. It is at this time that the perennial plants are most susceptible to herbicide uptake. Additionally, herbicide applications during the spring will easily kill germinating seedling plants and reduce the overall buttonweed population significantly. The worst thing to do is to wait until late July or August to make the first herbicide application. By late summer, heavy Virginia buttonweed populations can form a dense mat that can kill large areas of the lawn. Single applications, especially late in the season, have not been effective on mature Virginia buttonweed in our research trials at LSU. Multiple applications throughout the summer months are needed after the initial spring applications to get buttonweed under control.

Virginia buttonweed herbicide program


A program approach works best to control buttonweed. According to research trials conducted by the LSU AgCenter, herbicides that contain the active ingredients 2,4-D; dicamba; mecoprop; and carfentrazone (SpeedZone Southern Herbicide and Weed Free Zone, for example) have been effective in suppressing emerging perennial plants and killing the first flush of buttonweed seedlings when applied in early spring. Once temperatures exceed 85 degrees, herbicides with 2,4-D cause too much injury to St. Augustine grass and centipedegrass. In the hot summertime, metsulfuron (MSM and others) or Celsius WG herbicides should be applied. Always repeat metsulfuron or Celsius applications four to six weeks after the initial application. Both Celsius and metsulfuron have performed well in research trials, and these herbicides — especially Celsius — seem to be tolerated pretty well by St. Augustine grass even in very hot weather.

Is there an organic herbicide for torpedograss?

I had an email question recently about controlling torpedograss with organic herbicides in flower beds. We would all like to use something organic on weeds in our landscapes. Unfortunately, there are no organic options for removing torpedograss. In fact, there are very few synthetic herbicides with activity on this troublesome perennial grass.

In areas where you can easily spray glyphosate with no potential to contact desirable vegetation, spray a 10 percent glyphosate and water solution every time that you see torpedograss. Unfortunately, you will likely not be able to spray glyphosate in a flower bed without killing a non-target species. Brush or wipe this highly concentrated glyphosate solution on torpedograss because there is a very high non-target drift risk.

In bermudagrass and zoysia lawns, quinclorac (Drive XLR8 Herbicide and other trade names) applied alone or tank-mixed with Monument can suppress torpedograss populations with repeated applications. For centipedegrass and St. Augustine grass turf infested with torpedograss, there are no reliable control options. It’s likely time for the “nuclear” renovation option. Spray the infested turfgrass with a 10 percent glyphosate solution and sod with zoysia.

Ornamental Updates in a monthly newsletter from the LSU AgCenter.

Prepared by: Jean Pittman B.S ., Lee Rouse, B.S ., Yan Chen, Ph.D ., Jason Stagg, M.S

LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station | 21549 Old Covington Hwy, Hammond, LA 70403

(985) 543-4125


4/11/2018 6:50:10 PM
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