Planting for success

When it comes to planting a garden in the South, it’s recommended to go with the classics hearty enough to withstand Louisiana’s heat.

“It’s been a lot of up and down,” said Andre’ Brock, AgCenter agent for St. Charles Parish. “There is no typical Louisiana spring. It was cool for a while then warm and then cool again. We’ve had a lot more rain, too.”

Contemplating a fruit to plant, Brock recommended watermelon.

“We’re right in the time for watermelons,” he said.

To get the best start, Brock also recommended getting soil tested to ensure best growth.

“You want fertile, well drained soil,” he said.

The Ag Center offers a free soil testing kit.

With the River Parishes’ clay soil, Brock also advised to go with raised beds as the easiest way to grow them. Space them about nine square feet or leave roughly three feet between plants.

To love ornamentals is to love color, and Brock said they invite a lot of warm season bedazzlement in beds now.

Again, if planting them use fertile, well drained soil.

Violas, also known as Johnny-Jump Ups, with their brilliant variety of colors, also coming in purple and gold, which Brock said makes it a favorite for LSU fans.

Verbena “Homestead Purple” is another good choice for the area, he said. They produce eye-catching clusters of purple flowers that have extended bloom times. It’s LSU’s official plant and a sturdy grower.

Resembling a painting with its striking colors and detail, Torenia, also called the Wishbone flower, stands out in the yard. Brock said this lesser known flower can tolerate some shade, but it will bloom best in partial or dapple shade.

Brock said the same can be said for Begonias in planting, as well as bringing their striking colors to a yard.

Even though these flowers may seem overdone, he added, “They perform really well in our landscapes.” They also tolerate the area’s heat and bugs.

For climbing vines, Brock suggested coral honeysuckle, which is also a good humming bird attractor.

Sunflowers, zinnias and cosmos will lend a little height to the garden, he said.

Two vegetables would do well to plant now.

Brock said okra and eggplant are still good to plant at this time and are really heat tolerant.

If planting tomatoes, get the heat tolerant varieties like phoenix and sun chaser, which have sun loving names because they do well in Louisiana. He said avoid Better Boy and Celebrity.

The AgCenter offers a tomato guide on its website, as well as holds Tomato Day in early June in Paulina in St. James Parish. This is where old and new varieties of tomatoes are displayed.

It’s also time to fertilize and put out weed preventer like Preen and Amaze on lawns, Brock said.

Watering is always important with plants.

Brock advised vegetables want to be watered every two to three days and the same for watermelon. Trees and grass should be watered deeply once a week, which is equivalent to an inch of rain. Put a rain gauge outside and see how long it takes to fill it to at least an inch to get a feel for how long the water should be on.

Also, water in the morning, not the evening.

Plant this!

*Watermelon
*Flowers like Violas, Verbena and Torenia
*Honeysuckle
*Sunflowers, zinnia and cosmos

About Anna Thibodeaux 1967 Articles
Managing Editor

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