The LSU AgCenter has announced another Louisiana Super Plant called Fireworks, a red-foliaged variety of purple fountain grass or pennisetum.

For many years, gardeners in Louisiana grew purple fountain grass. Now, new and improved fountain grasses are on the market, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.

These are generally annuals in Louisiana. In warmer winters, however, you can have fountain grass return and be in perennial in the warmer locations of south Louisiana.

“The uniqueness of foliage on Fireworks, the low maintenance of this great ornamental grass and its spring-through-fall exceptional landscape performance make this plant a logical Louisiana Super Plant selection,” Owings says.

The foliage is dominantly red with white and green streaking.

Planted in full sun, Fireworks performs best in a raised bed with good drainage because most ornamental grasses don’t like standing water or waterlogged soils. Plants are very-drought tolerant, and hot weather is no problem for this Gulf Coast-adapted plant. Fireworks will grow to 48 inches tall by early fall with a spread of 30-36 inches. The attractive flower plumes are pale reddish purple and begin appearing by early summer and last until the first killing frost. This feature gives a nice vertical element to a landscape bed and adds height to a perennial or annual flower bed.

Fireworks has no insect or disease problems, and irrigation requirements are minimal.

You asked

I have not been very successful with tomatoes the past few years. What varieties do you recommend for planting in spring? Summer? Pat

Tribeca and Tribute are the top picks for spring tomatoes, with Amelia in second place. For summer, try planting heat-tolerant varieties such as Bella Rosa. These varieties may not produce really large tomatoes, but they produce a lot of medium-sized fruit. Heat-tolerant tomatoes are usually planted in June and will start to produce around August. Many cherry tomato varieties, such as Sun Gold and Sweet Cherry 100, will produce throughout the hotter parts of the year. Tribute and Tribeca are determinate varieties so they will stop producing at the end of their season, around June or so. Most cherry tomato varieties are indeterminate and will slow down production in the hotter parts of the year. — LSU AgCenter horticulturist Bobby Williams

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