Shrubs make up the main background plants for most home landscapes, and fall is the best time to plant them.

When selecting shrubs, choose those that will ultimately meet your design expectations, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.

If you have a plant that will mature to the wrong size, he says, chances are you’ll soon be dissatisfied with your selection. So choose specimens that meet your design specifications.

Shrubs are divided into two groups based on their leaf-retaining characteristics. Those that drop all of their leaves at one time of the year — usually late fall — and are bare of leaves for a period are called deciduous plants. Those that drop leaves throughout the year and never go through a period where they have no leaves are called evergreens. Some, however, can be governed by environmental conditions and may be classified as semi-evergreen or semi-deciduous.

The well-designed landscape most often contains both deciduous and evergreen plants, Owings says. Seasonal change is accented by using both types.

Greater contrasts in plant form, texture and color are achieved with a variety of plant types. And using the best management practices to properly place deciduous and evergreen plants in a landscape improves energy conservation in both summer and winter.

Popular shrubs planted in Louisiana landscapes include azaleas, camellias, sasanquas, hydrangeas, Indian hawthorns, cleyera, ligustrums, dwarf yaupons, hollies and gardenias.

Owings offers these planting tips:

Begin by digging a hole at least twice as wide and to the same depth as the root ball of the plant you have.

After digging, ensure that about 1-2 inches of the root ball is above the surrounding soil.

Loosen with your hands or a knife any roots that have been matted while growing in the container. Also, cut through any circling roots.

Place the plant in the hole and fill in with the soil you removed.

Water the plant to release any air pockets.

Mulch with 2-3 inches of pine straw after planting is completed.

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