BR getting ready for Arbor Day event

Photo by JOHNNY MORGAN-- Come plant a tree for Arbor Day on Jan. 18 at Burden Garden and Museums on Essen Lane. Show caption
Photo by JOHNNY MORGAN-- Come plant a tree for Arbor Day on Jan. 18 at Burden Garden and Museums on Essen Lane.

Editor’s note: After more than 25 years of answering your gardening questions, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Bob Souvestre has decided to no longer write his weekly column. Our thanks to Bob for his many years of service. We wish him all the best as he continues his work with the AgCenter. Today we start a new column from the LSU AgCenter.

Arbor Day in Louisiana is the third Friday in January. Started in Nebraska in 1872, Arbor Day is designated as a day for planting trees. In Louisiana, January is considered the best month to do this.

Arbor Day in Baton Rouge will be celebrated from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 18 at Burden Museums and Gardens, 4560 Essen Lane. The program will include opportunities to plant a tree in the Burden woods and participate in a 5K hike and scavenger hunt, said Jeff Kuehny, director of the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens.

Other activities will include bonfires, hayrides, chainsaw wood sculpting demonstrations and special activities for children. Refreshments will be on sale.

Admission is $5 for individuals; and free for children 3 and under. For more information visit LSUAgCenter.com/botanicgardens or call (225) 763-3990.

If you want to plant a tree on your own, LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings says some of the most popular and best trees for Louisiana landscapes include the Southern live oak, Southern magnolia (our state flower), bald cypress (our state tree), crape myrtles, deciduous oaks, southern sugar maple, hollies, vitex, Sweetbay magnolia and pines.

Trees are a long-term investment, so select the correct tree for your planting location and purpose. During this time of year, the soil remains warm, encouraging vigorous root growth, and trees will have several months to get established before summer’s heat.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill provides these guidelines for proper tree planting:

Dig the hole at least twice the diameter and no deeper than the height of the root ball.

Remove the tree from any container or binding and place it in the hole.

Make sure the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the surrounding soil.

Backfill around the tree using only the soil that came from the hole without any additions.

Do not fertilize trees planted now.

Stake the tree only if it is tall enough to be unstable.

Keep the area 1 to 2 feet around the trunk free from weeds and grass and mulched 2-4 inches deep but not against the base of the trunk.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.