Many gardeners told me that they had to provide extra care to plants in order to help plants that were stressed from our previously mentioned weather patterns in spring and summer. Fortunately for gardeners as the seasons go and come we have great opportunities to add exciting plants to our gardens. Fall presents a great opportunity to plant! There was a time when it was a normal practice to wait until the spring to plant cool season bedding plants in our gardens. However we now know that planting in fall, as evidenced by numerous AgCenter trials of cool season bedding plants, trees, and shrubs, we know that fall planting provides several benefits or advantages over spring planted bedding plants. Planting shrubs, trees, and cool season bedding plants in the period from mid – October to mid – December provides plants the time to establish very strong root systems which means more healthy plants that will out perform those planted in the spring. So actually we get a better investment by enjoying color in our gardens in the fall, winter, and exploding into a spectacular display in the spring. Now is the time to plant cool season bedding plants such as pansies, dianthus, foxgloves, snapdragons, violas, just to name a few.
For bedding plants, good bed preparation is very important because it can directly impact plant performance. It is important to first remove all existing weeds, till or turn the bed to a depth of at least 8 inches, then spread a layer of organic matter such as compost, peat moss or aged manure. Next, sprinkle an all purpose fertilizer and then thoroughly mix or till all these materials, smooth the bed, and then transplant, being careful not to plant too deeply which can lead to crown or stem rot. Plant no deeper than the plant was growing in the cell pack or pot.
Once transplants are in the soil, then lightly sprinkle a weed preventer such as Preen Garden Weed Preventer or Miracle Gro Shake & Feed Plus Weed Preventer. Either one of these will suppress the germination of weeds in the flower bed. Once the weed preventer is sprinkled on the surface, moderately water the beds to settle the soil around the transplants, and firm of the soil in the bed. At this point all that is left to do is add mulch. The benefits of mulching are further suppressing of weeds, conservation of moisture, lessens soil compaction, and adding some freeze protection, and also as the mulch breaks down, it adds nutrients to the soil and helps to improve the soil structure making it better for root system expansion and plant growth. Conservation of moisture is very important to root establishment which is a priority with all newly planted plants including bedding plants, shrubs or trees.
Some of the Louisiana Super Plants for cool season planting are Sorbet Violas, Amazon Dianthus, Foxglove Camelot Series, ornamental kale, and ornamental cabbage. Some of the other Louisiana Super Plants for consideration and planting this fall are Shoal Creek Vitex, Evergreen Sweetbay Magnolia, Willow Oak, and Southern Sugar Maple.
Finally I’d like to mention a Louisiana Super Plant released this fall. Although this is not a new plant, it does perform well in our southern gardens. This plant is Homestead Purple Verbena, which is classified as a hardy perennial across Louisiana. It can be planted in mid-fall or late winter, or early spring. For best performance it should be planted in full to partial sun in well drained soil. It grows an average of 10-12 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide producing numerous clusters of deep purple flowers. It has a long blooming season usually running from later winter through early summer and into the fall months. Its flowers are rich in nectar and attract butterflies and bees. Deadheading enhances flowering and it is considered low maintenance.
Remember all Louisiana Super Plants are University Tested and Industry Approved!!