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Introducing the new Louisiana Super Plants program
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.


October 3, 2010

This month the LSU AgCenter presents its new plant promotion program called Louisiana Super Plants. The Louisiana Super Plants program is an educational and marketing campaign that highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well in Louisiana landscapes. New selections will be announced and promoted each spring and fall.

Louisiana Super Plants have a proven track record of several years of university evaluations and/or observations by industry professionals. Home gardeners and professional horticulturists alike can benefit from using Louisiana Super Plants. Louisiana Super Plants are “university tested and industry approved.”

Louisiana’s summer heat and humidity are tough on plants, and most plants recommended for other parts of the United States will not always perform well here. So the LSU AgCenter and green industry, through the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association, identified the need for a state-based program – one that uses university research to identify and promote exceptional plants for Louisiana landscapes. Funding for this project was provided through the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry with U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funds.

The Louisiana Super Plants program has three parts. The first identifies outstanding plants. The second makes sure the plants are available at retail nurseries and garden centers. The third gets out the word about these great plants out to Louisiana gardeners.

Louisiana Super Plants are promoted to generate interest and awareness of these outstanding plants. Information will be available through a wide variety of media. Look for information on Louisiana Super Plants in newsletters, magazines and newspapers and on television, radio and the Internet (www.lsuagcenter.com/SuperPlants). In addition, look for signs showing which plants are the Louisiana Super Plants selections at your local nurseries.

The program

The Louisiana Super Plants program is specific to Louisiana. Many plant-marketing programs are regional or national and are developed and directed by private companies. Proven Winners is a good example.

Some state specific programs, like Louisiana Super Plants, are done in other states. Many gardeners are familiar with the Athens Select program. Most of the Athens Select plants do well in Louisiana, but they are tested and selected in Athens, Ga. – and Louisiana, particularly the southern part of the state, has different growing conditions.

To ensure that Louisiana Super Plants selections are available at retail nurseries and garden centers, a selection committee works closely with Louisiana wholesale growers to ensure they produce plenty of the selected plants. At the same time, retail sellers are kept informed of the selections and are encouraged to carry them. In addition, signs showing the logo, pictures of the plants and growing information will be placed in nurseries and garden centers to help shoppers find and choose Louisiana Super Plants.

What does it take to become a Louisiana Super Plant?

It’s tough to be a Louisiana Super Plant. Each Super Plant must have at least two years of rigorous evaluations and have a proven track record under north and south Louisiana growing conditions. Super Plants must prove hardy across the state and be easily produced and available for all industry wholesalers and retailers to market and sell.

Louisiana Super Plants are selected one to two years in advance of release. The Louisiana Super Plant selection committee, composed of LSU AgCenter personnel, selects plants based upon observations made in replicated plots and demonstration trials across the state.

The Louisiana Super Plants advisory committee, composed of producers, retailers and landscapers from across the state, meets with the plant selection committee for further evaluation of a plant’s landscape ability and marketability.

Louisiana Super Plant selections for fall 2010

Two cool-season bedding plants – dianthus Amazon series and foxglove Camelot series, and one fall-flowering shrub, ShiShi Gashira camellia – have been chosen as Louisiana Super Plants for fall 2010. Dianthus Amazon series comes in three varieties, Rose Magic, Neon Purple and Neon Cherry. Foxglove Camelot series includes Cream, Rose, White and Lavender. ShiShi Gashira camellia is a low-growing shrub that produces semi-double rose-pink flower from October to early January.

One of the challenges of successful gardening is choosing plants that will thrive in Louisiana’s climate. You can be assured that when you select these Louisiana Super Plants, you have chosen plants that will flourish in your landscape if they’re planted in the proper location and given good care. This prevents disappointing failures, saves money buying replacements and keeps landscapes looking their best. Now, what gardener wouldn’t like that?

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