Garden News: Add color to landscape with plants

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 or shrubs for a more permanent result.

Many cool-season bedding plants are hardy to temperatures in the mid- and even low teens, and LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill says it’s still practical to plant them at this time of year.

Among the hardiest is dianthus, which come in many shades of pink, rose, red and white, as well as a variety of heights. Pansies and violas are also candidates for planting now, along with snapdragons.

“These are among the hardiest of our cool-season bedding plants,” Gill says. “And it’s something to brighten up those flower beds that don’t look so good right now.”

So instead of a brown, dull landscape, you can add cool-season flowers now. They’ll be gorgeous in your garden all the way through May.

Upcoming events

A camellia garden stroll is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Hammond Research Station, 21549 Old Covington Highway. Admission is free.

Sponsored by the AgCenter and Tangipahoa Parish Master Gardeners Association, the event will feature more than 500 camellia japonicas and sasanquas planted from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.

You asked

We have been having brown patch in our lawn for the past two summers. It seems to start showing toward the end of August. What can we do to prevent or control this problem, and what time of year do we need to start? – Ronnie

The injury you are seeing may resemble brown patch disease, but the timing of the damage best matches up with an insect problem — chinch bugs. The most damaging insect on St. Augustine grass, chinch bugs are most active in hot and dry periods of summer. They are relatively small (1/5-inch long as adults) with black patches on their wings. Bifenthrin is one of the better insecticides on chinch bugs infesting lawns. — Ron Strahan, LSU AgCenter

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