We had a long dreary wet winter, but spring arrived with nature reemerging as normal. Trees, lawns, and flowers put on new growth and dispersed pollen to the discomfort of the hay fever sufferers. For gardener’s spring and summer are busy times. Flower beds need tidying up, winter annual bedding plants or potted plants need to be replaced with summer annual plants, the vegetable garden site prepared and planted, weeds controlled in the lawn and deciding what new ornamentals or fruit trees to plant.
With any old or new gardening site the gardener needs to keep a basic concept in mind the right plant in the right place. Gardeners like to read about new plants and share plant ideas with relatives, neighbors, and friends. Gardeners can be disappointed with the outcome of new plants if a little homework is not done to see if the plants are suitable for the site.
First in selecting ornamentals or edible plants make sure they are recommended for your area. The LSU AgCenter has many publications listing recommendations for ornamentals and edibles. All county agents will tell you to take a soil sample. The soil sample will tell you the pH of the soil which will indicate if it is suitable for an acid soil loving plant or alkaline plant. The pH can be adjusted to suite a plant’s needs. The pH also determines the availability of other nutrients for absorption by the plant roots. The primary nutrients plants need are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur.
When selecting ornamental plants or fruit trees make sure their mature height or width fits the planting site. The plant in the pot at the garden center is always smaller than the mature size. Not all ornamental plants or fruit trees benefit from pruning. Excessive pruning can stress a plant making it susceptible to disease and insect problems. Spacing of plants is important. Crowding can cause misshaped plants; limbs can be damaged from rubbing against each other and poor air circulation can lead to more disease problems.
In the south our environmental conditions are very favorable for disease, insect and weed pests. Disease control for viruses and bacteria in plants is by selecting plants with resistance. We do not have any control methods for plant viruses and limited options for bacterial infections. Fungicides are available for fungal diseases, but they are protective and not curative. Weed control can be accomplished using various mulches to limit sunlight to the soil for seed germination and as a physical barrier. Herbicides are also available as a weed control option. Beneficial insects can help reduce pest insect numbers and insecticides are available. Identification of pests is very important. Just because you see something on or around your plants it does not always indicate a problem. If using a chemical pest control method always follow the mixing and handling instructions on the container.
Now get out enjoy the sun and smell the roses, natures free mood uplift!
Red Knockout rose in bloom.
Yellow Lady Banks rose in bloom.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture