Garden News: Possible answer to fig problems

Photo by J.S. PARK, La. State Anthropod Museum -- A male spotted wing drosophila fly on a fig in a Baton Rouge yard exhibits the tell-tale spots.

For the second year in a row, Chris Carlton confirmed the presence of spotted wing drosophila flies on the figs in his Baton Rouge yard. Unlike most other drosophila fruit flies or vinegar flies, spotted wing drosophila are able to pierce the skins and lay their eggs in soft-skinned fruits like figs and blueberries, says the … Continue reading →

Exotic blooms for the masses

You want orchids? The Baton Rouge Orchid Society has the show and sale for you. This year’s theme is “Exotic Orchids,” and unlike other shows where flowers stand in a vase or pot, these orchids will be arranged into tropical displays and exhibits to resemble natural habitats or to showcase the theme. Flowers and displays will be … Continue reading →

Garden News: Defeating plant pests begins with diagnosis

Photo provided by LSU AgCenter -- To prepare a plant sample for diagnosis at the LSU AgCenter, place the roots in a plastic bag and wrap the upper portion in newspaper, then bring it an AgCenter office or place it in a sturdy box and ship it.

A wide variety of pests can damage plants or cause problems in our landscapes. They include insects, mites, fungi, bacteria, nematodes and a whole host of weeds. If you have a plant or plants that constantly seem to be under attack despite your best efforts, consider replacing them with plants you have found to require less … Continue reading →

Garden News: Coneflower shows its true colors

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS  There are now coneflowers in lots of colors, like these Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea growing at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station.

Louisiana gardeners have been growing the coneflower, or Echinacea purpurea, for years. It’s a tough, resilient plant that’s extremely attractive to butterflies, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill said. “It’s a real performer in our gardens,” Gill said. “The problem is a color limitation.” For years, the only color available has been a sort of … Continue reading →

Garden News: Sharpen those mower blades

Photo provided by LSU AgCenter -- Dull blades leave jagged ends on mowed grass.

A healthy, good-looking lawn requires proper mowing. Because it removes the food-making structure known as the leaf blade, we must do it properly to avoid excessive stress to the plant. And that means a sharp blade, says LSU AgCenter turf expert Ron Strahan. Simply put, never remove more than the top third of the grass in any … Continue reading →

When the Frugés downsized, they didn’t give up style

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- The back courtyard features a  large outdoor kitchen, which the Fruges use year-round.

Jim and Louise Frugé’s home is designed around two New Orleans-style courtyards that turn the outside area into a major part of their living space. The Frugés are outdoor people who use the courtyards to relax, dine and entertain almost year-round. “I love being outside,” Louise Frugé said. “I want to be able to … Continue reading →

Garden Fest features food, music, garden tours, plant sales

Vibrant verbena

Food, music, hayride tours and plant sales are all part of the annual Garden Fest at LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden on Saturday, June 21. Beginning at 7:30 a.m., visitors can take a hayride to the research area to taste tomatoes, watermelons, peppers and fruit crops and learn about the latest research conducted by the LSU … Continue reading →

Herb Society to meet June 26

The Herb Society of American will learn about artemisia when it meets at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 26. The meeting will be held at the Burden Conference Center, 4560 Essen Lane. Members get in free, and it’s $5 for others. Artemisia is the Herb of the Year, and, while that name might be unfamiliar, it’s … Continue reading →

Garden News: Dealing with caterpillars

Photo by DAN GILL -- Fall webworms will eat the leaves but won't harm the woody parts of a tree.

Caterpillars of various types are common pests in vegetable gardens, flower beds, trees, shrubs and even lawns all through the summer. We call moths and butterflies in the larval stage caterpillars, but sometimes they’re called “worms,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. The caterpillar phase is basically the stage when the insect eats large amounts of … Continue reading →

Home addition gives Godfreys space for family addition

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Emily and Kyle Godfrey doubled the size of their home in 2009, adding a den which is furnished with two sofas and two chairs in 'mellow' colors and pillows in geometric patterns.

Emily Godfrey and her husband, Kyle, were enjoying life in their 1960s-vintage, 1000-square-foot house when they got the news that they were expecting twins. The Godfreys loved their little house, but it had a problem. The laundry room was in a storage area off the carport. “I couldn’t imagine leaving the babies in the … Continue reading →

Garden News: Caring for crape myrtles in the summer

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS  Cercospora leaf spot is a fungus that usually appears on crape myrtle leaves in mid- to late-summer. It doesn't usually harm the trees.

Crape myrtles are beginning to bloom now in south Louisiana, and they’ll continue into September. So LSU horticulturist Dan Gill has some suggestions for caring for your crape myrtles throughout the summer. A common problem with crape myrtles is the careless use of mowers and string trimmers around the base of these thin-barked trees, Gill says. This … Continue reading →

Learn about vertical gardening at free New Orleans workshop

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Will Crary is manager of Verti Gardens, a company that produces  vertical aeroponic systems for gardens in New Orleans, La. on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.

Just grow up! A schoolyard taunt, maybe, but the phrase is also advice to any gardener — especially the urban type — who has limited space in which to cultivate a garden. On Saturday, June 14, Wil Crary of VertiFarms explains the concept of vertical gardening at a free talk hosted by Parkway Partners. “A vertical garden … Continue reading →

Garden news: Prepare for heat with drought-tolerant plants

Photo by LSU AgCenter --  Once established, New Gold lantana is drought-tolerant and requires limited care, yet provides continuous season-long color.

Summer will be here before you know it, and you can prepare for the heat now by planting beautiful drought-tolerant plants in sunny spots of your landscape. Although we often get hot, dry spells in south Louisiana, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill says you can find plants that are tough and superb at producing beautiful flowers in … Continue reading →

BR landscape architect gardens where he works

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Landscape architect Jon Emerson enjoys his long row of blooming sweet peas every spring.

Landscape architect Jon Emerson’s office garden is such an important part of his workspace that he put the front door there. “It’s like Savannah and Charleston,” Emerson says. “In Savannah and Charleston, you walk into the gardens first.” The office, in an early 20th- century house in Beauregard Town, features a side garden divided … Continue reading →

Garden News: Get lawn growing again

Photo provided by LSU AgCenter -- Applying fertilizer and herbicides at the right time is critical for good lawn care.

Lawns had a really tough winter this year, and they have not recovered well this spring. Fertilizer should be helpful in getting your lawn growing again, says LSU AgCenter turf specialist Ron Strahan. Although it is a little late, it is OK to use materials, like Scotts Bonus S, on your lawn to fertilize and … Continue reading →

Garden News: Better pollination prevents disfigured squash

Photo by KIKI FONTENOT -- Healthy squash plants can produce abundantly throughout the summer.

Many home gardeners and commercial producers have been reporting disfigured squash fruit this spring, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Kiki Fontenot. Squash is a monocot, which means it produces both male and female flowers on the same plant. Only female flowers produce fruit, but both types of flowers are needed for cross-pollination and fruit production. … Continue reading →

Garden News: Hardy hibiscus thrive in south La.

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS -- If you need to replace plants this year, consider the Luna hibiscus, seen here thriving at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden.

With the unusually cold weather we had in south Louisiana this winter, a good portion of our tropical hibiscuses that normally make it through the winter have been lost. As people begin replacing lost landscape plants, LSU AgCenter horticulturists suggest considering hardy hibiscuses as replacements for some of the lost tropicals. The AgCenter is continuing a … Continue reading →

Garden News: Hydrangeas are Mother’s Day gift that lasts

Advocate file photo -- Hydrangeas do well in south Louisiana gardens, but don't like a lot of sun.

Potted hydrangeas are popular gifts for Mother’s Day, and they can be a gift that lasts. Once their flowers fade, these gift plants can be planted outside where they will provide beautiful flowers for years to come, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. Deciduous shrubs originally native to Japan, hydrangeas need an evenly moist soil and are … Continue reading →

Strategic planning hides Perkins Road home in plain sight

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Ann Shaw likes an uncluttered look in her dining room, where a low bookcase was designed for the space and her table, left by the previous owner, is surrounded with garage-sale chairs.

Ann Shaw’s home sits on a corner lot on a major thoroughfare across the street from one of Baton Rouge’s busiest shopping areas. Using creative landscaping, she refocused the setting to create her own quiet haven. When the house was built in 1936, it faced Perkins Road, then a slow country drive. Even though her subdivision … Continue reading →

Hibiscus show, sale scheduled

Photo provided by Red Stick Hibiscus Association -- Beautiful blooms like this one will be on exhibit and for sale at the Red Stick Hibiscus Association's show on Sunday.

The Red Stick Hibiscus Association will hold its annual show and sale from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at the 4-H Mini Farm Building, adjacent to the John Parker Coliseum on the LSU campus. The theme this year is “Salute to the Purple and Gold,” and will include flowers from growers throughout the South. … Continue reading →

Garden News: Butterfly bushes popular

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS  Want butterflies? Plant a buddleia bush, like this Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink.

Buddleia, known by most home gardeners as butterfly bush, is becoming increasingly popular — mostly because butterflies favor this perennial as a nectar plant. Butterfly bushes come in an array of sizes, flower colors and foliage characteristics, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. Along with their landscape performance, they make great cut flowers with their … Continue reading →

BR Rose Society plans Spring Fling

The Baton Rouge Rose Society will host its second annual Spring Fling in Denham Springs on May 4. The event will be held at the DeRouen Farm, 10030 Lockhart Road. There will be garden tours, speakers, rose-growing presentations, rose cultivation information and shrub roses, Earth Kind roses and old garden roses for sale. The farm is … Continue reading →

Garden News: Add color to landscape with plants

Photo provided by LSU AgCenter -- Want to add a bright spot to your dull winter landscape? Plant perky violas, like these called Yellow Duet.

The hard freezes we’ve had this winter killed or severely damaged many landscape plants — especially tropicals. If you have more brown in your landscape than you like, it’s not too late to add color by planting some cool-season bedding plants for a short-term solution. If you have space, you could also consider planting evergreen trees … Continue reading →

Start preparing the ground

Photo by DAN GILL -- Vegetable gardens can provide a bountiful harvest throughout the year in Louisiana.

For vegetable gardeners, February is “not the time to mope around,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Kiki Fontenot. It’s time to start preparing the ground for the spring planting season. If your soil tests say you need fertilizer, apply it now and allow it to sit in the garden for a week before planting. And make … Continue reading →

Garden news: Dividing time for perennials

Photo by DAN GILL  A sharp knife is all thats needed to divide some perennials, such as this liriope.

Now is a great time to divide hardy perennials in your landscape. This is best done before we get too far into the spring growing season. Because division can be fairly tough on plants, do it when the weather is cool and moist — like in the next few weeks, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. … Continue reading →

Garden News: Now’s the ideal time to test your soil

LSU AgCenter photo by TOM KOSKE -- Before planting your spring garden, get your soil tested to make sure you add the right components.

If you’re waiting for spring to start planting your garden — especially a vegetable garden — now is the ideal time to take soil samples, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Kiki Fontenot. If you have more than one garden or have areas of your landscape that you reserve for different uses — vegetables, flowers, ornamentals or … Continue reading →

Garden News: Rejuvenate ground covers

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS -- Pruning ground covers like this liriope in late winter removes damaged foliage and encourages vigorous new growth.

Late winter is a good time to think about ground covers, and LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gil gives two reasons for this. First, this is an excellent time to trim your ground covers to rejuvenate and refresh them. Even evergreen ground covers like monkey grass often get a lot of brown leaves built up in … Continue reading →

Garden News: Be on the lookout for early lace bugs

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS -- Be on the lookout for lace bugs, like these on this lantana leaf.

Lace bugs are a problem on azaleas each year in Louisiana. These little pests are now beginning to emerge from the eggs laid this past year. Azaleas that receive radiated heat from nearby buildings are the first to show injury. Four species of lace bugs feed on azaleas and rhododendrons, says LSU AgCenter entomologist Dennis … Continue reading →

Garden News: Outstanding landscape plants highlighted

Photo by ALLEN OWINGS -- The Kauai torenia, or wishbone flower, is an LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plant for this spring.

With the arrival of spring, the LSU AgCenter has begun announcing the season’s Louisiana Super Plants selections. The AgCenter started the Louisiana Super Plant program in 2010 to highlight outstanding landscape plants for Louisiana. The first Super Plant for this spring is the Kauai torenia, or wishbone flower. Landscape professionals and home gardeners are … Continue reading →

Garden News: Prune to help azaleas bloom

Photo by RICK BOGREN -- Azaleas that have few blooms are probably suffering from late pruning. Avoid this situation by pruning before July 4th.

Azaleas are blooming. You’ve probably seen azalea bushes so full of flowers you couldn’t see any green. And you’ve likely seen azalea bushes with many fewer flowers. What’s the difference? “Pruning,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. “When azaleas are pruned improperly, you get fewer flowers.” Like many spring-flowering shrubs, azalea bushes begin to make … Continue reading →