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There’s Still Time to Plant Super Plants
by Dan Gill
by Dan Gill

email: dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu

Dan Gill earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in horticulture from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and is an Associate Professor in Consumer Horticulture with the LSU AgCenter.

He is the spokesperson for the LSU AgCenter’s Get It Growing project, a statewide educational effort in home horticulture utilizing radio, Internet, TV and newsprint. Gardeners throughout Louisiana read his columns in local newspapers, watch his gardening segments on local TV stations and listen to him on local radio. In the New Orleans area, Dan appears weekly on the Channel 4 Morning News, writes a weekly gardening column for The Times-Picayune and hosts the Saturday morning WWWL Garden Show, a live call-in radio program.

Dan is co-author of the Louisiana Gardener’s Guide and author of Month-by-Month Gardening in Louisiana. His “South Louisiana Region Report” and “Only in Louisiana” columns appear monthly in the Louisiana Gardener Magazine.


February 6, 2012

Last fall, the LSU AgCenter announced three outstanding Louisiana Super Plant selections for Louisiana landscapes. If you haven’t planted them yet, February is an excellent time to add these beautiful plants to your gardens.

Belinda’s Dream rose

Many of the tough, resilient landscape roses that perform so well for us have flowers that are nice, but nothing like the beautiful hybrid tea flowers that epitomize the ideal rose flower. The outstanding Knock Out rose is a great example of a rose that performs like a trooper in the landscape but has open, semi-double flowers that leave a lot to be desired in the minds of many gardeners.

However, Belinda’s Dream rose produces high-centered buds that open to reveal exquisitely shaped, fully double flowers very much like hybrid tea roses. This is a rose with all of the toughness, attractive growth habit and disease resistance of a Knock Out and still produces the beautiful flowers so many of us crave.

The large flowers are a clear, medium-pink and generally reach about 4 inches across. Flower production begins in April and continues in flush after flush all through the heat of summer and into December, with only brief rests between periods of bloom.

With its beautiful flowers, excellent disease resistance, attractive growth habit and low maintenance requirements, Belinda’s Dream rose is a well-justified and welcome addition to Louisiana Super Plants. Look for it at local nurseries near signs with the Super Plants logo.

Redbor kale

Redbor kale (Brassica oleracea Redbor) is the first edible Louisiana Super Plants selection. It is an incredible, multiuse annual for the cool-season flower or vegetable garden. Although perfectly edible, it is so attractive in appearance it is being promoted as an ornamental for planting in flowerbeds.

The dramatic beauty of Redbor kale comes from its striking dark purple-red foliage. Adding to this is the interesting texture that is created by the finely curled and frilly foliage – producing an almost a cloud-like effect. The rich, dark color of the foliage is wonderful when used in flowerbeds as a foil with brightly colored flowers.

Plant it in a sunny, well-prepared bed enriched with a generous addition of organic matter (compost, composted manure, soil conditioner, peat moss) and an application of general-purpose fertilizer. Given their eventual size, don’t plant them too close together. Plant them so that the centers of the plants are about 12 to 16 inches apart.

Redbor kale has good heat tolerance and will generally stay attractive until May. By then, the beauty of Redbor kale will typically begin to fade. Plants may send up clusters of pale yellow flowers on tall stems at that time. Some gardeners like the way the plants look when blooming, and others are not impressed. Allow yours to bloom and see what you think – the plants have a different look when in bloom.

Swan series columbine

Columbines are among the most graceful of garden flowers. The foliage is lacy and bluish-green, and the slightly nodding flowers are complexly formed and often include two contrasting colors.

Within the Swan series, the varieties are named based on the flower color and include Swan Blue and White, Swan White, Swan Yellow, Swan Pink and Yellow, Swan Burgundy and White, Swan Violet and White, Swan Rose and White and Swan Red and White. The outstanding range of beautiful colors is one reason the Swan series was chosen to be a Louisiana Super Plants selection. The flowers are also larger than other columbines.

In milder climates with cooler summers, columbines may be short-lived perennials that tend to bloom in summer. Here in Louisiana, however, we grow virtually all columbines as cool-season annuals that bloom in the spring and are removed when they finish blooming.

From early to late spring the plants send up stems with clusters of large, graceful, colorful flowers. By May the plants will be finished and can be removed from the garden (compost them) and replaced with summer bedding plants.

Swan columbines grow well in full sun to part shade – one of the few cool-season bedding plants that blooms well in part shade (as does another Louisiana Super Plant, Camelot series foxglove). Enrich the bed where they are planted with generous amounts of compost or other organic materials and a light sprinkling of general-purpose fertilizer. Space plants about 10 inches apart.

Louisiana Super Plants

The purpose of the Louisiana Super Plants program is to identify superior plants for Louisiana landscapes, make sure wholesale growers are growing them and retail nurseries are carrying the selections and get the word out to the gardening public about these outstanding plants.

Look for these plants at area nurseries now. To see photos and read about these beautiful and reliable plants, check out the Louisiana Super Plants website at www.lsuagcenter.com/superplants. You will also find a list of nurseries in your area that are carrying Louisiana Super Plants.

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