IN THE YARD: Native plants

Careful gardeners may like to hear they can relax their vigilance a bit, take a little weight off their shoulders and create a garden that’s more environmentally friendly, too.

Horticulturists at the LSU AgCenter say it’s not critical to use pesticides to treat problems if the pest isn’t causing serious damage and if the plant is likely to get over it on its own.

If pest control is an urgent need, though, see if things like hand-picking, barriers or traps might work. If you use a pesticide, try to find the one that works that’s the least toxic and apply it just to the affected plants, says Dan Gill, LSU horticulturist.

You can give yourself an edge, he said, by planting plants that are native to Louisiana whenever you can — they’ve adapted to the pest problems here. As far as stopping weeds, consider using mulch instead of herbicides.

Fertilizing can be overdone, too. The plants that most require regular fertilizing are those growing in containers, Gill said.

Vegetables and flowers in the ground generally need just moderate fertilizing, and it’s rarely critical to fertilize established trees and shrubs every year.

Those are a few ways you can shorten your to-do list.

LOOKING AHEAD The change of seasons seems far away now, but why not mentally prepare for your next garden and learn what plants do well here in the fall and winter months, at 6 p.m. July 18 at the Eden Park branch of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, 5131 Greenwell Springs Road.

Slow Food of Baton Rouge will be making the presentation then and again at 2:30 p.m. on July 27 at the Scotlandville library branch, 7373 Scenic Highway.

ORCHID SHOW Enjoy a visit to the Baton Rouge Orchid Society’s show and sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.t o 4 p.m. Sunday at the Baton Rouge Garden Center, 3790 Independence Blvd.

There will be beautiful displays of orchids from home growers; commercial vendors with orchids for sale and experts to answer questions.

Ellyn Couvillion

Advocate staff writer