Fall is coming, and you are encouraged to add new plants to your landscape at this time of year. There’s no better horticultural time than now.
Most people plant trees, shrubs and ground covers in spring, but fall is really the best time to plant. By planting in fall – October through mid-December – we take advantage of the great opportunity we have to get plants established. Root growth, which is the first priority after planting, occurs during fall and winter in Louisiana when shoots and flowers grow slowly.
Trees can be planted in the next few months until around Arbor Day, the second Friday in January in Louisiana. Consider trees that the AgCenter has named Louisiana Super Plants, like Shoal Creek vitex, evergreen sweetbay magnolia, willow oak and southern sugar maple. Other good Louisiana landscape trees are Southern live oak, Southern magnolia (our state flower), bald cypress (our state tree), crape myrtles, other deciduous oaks (nuttall, southern red, shumard), southern sugar maple, Savannah hollies, oriental magnolia and pines.
Shrubs also can be added to your landscape now. Roses and flowering perennials do great when planted in fall. You can also add cool-season bedding plants in the landscape or in containers or planter boxes to enhance patios and outdoor living areas. Try the Belinda’s Dream and Drift series roses or the legendary Homestead Purple verbena, a Louisiana Super Plant for this fall.
Many home gardeners plant shrubs during spring because that’s when most of us think about gardening and when garden centers have the best selections. Shrubs are the “bones” of a landscape. Selecting shrubs recommended for Louisiana, choosing a good-quality plant at your local garden center, following proper planting procedures and providing recommended follow-up care will lead to success.
Popular shrubs planted in Louisiana landscapes include azaleas, camellias, sasanquas, hydrangeas, Indian hawthorns, loropetalums, viburnum, cleyera, dwarf yaupons and gardenias. Louisiana Super Plant shrubs to plant include Frostproof gardenia, ShiShi Gashira camellia, the fall-blooming Conversation Piece azalea and Aphrodite althea (rose of Sharon).
Cool-season flowers include pansies, violas, dianthus, snapdragons, garden mums, calendula, ornamental kale and cabbage and many more. Perennial flowers like gaillardia, verbena, coneflowers, Louisiana iris, daylilies and rudbeckias establish well when planted in fall and will perform better next year if they’re planted now.
A well-designed landscape most often contains both deciduous and evergreen plants. And using both types helps accent seasonal change. You can create or renew a landscape by using a variety of plants. This creates contrasting plant forms, textures and colors. Using best management practices to properly place deciduous and evergreen plants in a landscape also improves energy conservation during summer and winter.
A recent news article from the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association says “the benefits of a well-planned landscape are many, from providing shade, privacy and color, to correcting drainage problems and creating outdoor living areas. Beautiful landscaping increases the value of your home by as much as 20 percent, according to some estimates.”
Fall is a great time to enhance your outdoor living spaces. The AgCenter encourages you to “get it growing” this fall, and there is no better way to get it growing well than by planting now.
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist