It’s the season of camellias, one of our popular evergreen shrubs.

We typically think of azaleas for spring flowers, crape myrtles for summer flowers and camellias for fall and winter flowers in Louisiana.

Leslie Ann camellia is a great choice and the latest LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plant selection for 2015. It’s a longtime proven variety of Camellia sasanqua for the Louisiana landscape.

The flower petals are bi-colored and sometimes tri-colored with blends of pink, blush and white. Leslie Ann can also be described as having white petals with pink edges. Some folks refer to the blooms as a semi-double to double with irregular petals that can take on a peony form.

Leslie Ann is an early-season bloomer that’s reliable every year, typically starting to flower in late October and continuing until mid-to-late December. A mostly upright grower, Leslie Ann reaches a mature height of 8 feet with a 4- to 5-foot spread. Plants grow vigorously when planted correctly and in the right location.

Even though sasanquas are in bloom, fall is one of the best times to plant them. They need a partly sunny to partially shaded planting location and prefer acid, well-drained soil. Mulch camellias with pine straw or pine bark and fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer in spring at the time of the new growth flush. Pruning will be needed only to direct growth and remove competing branches over the first couple years after planting.

The goal of the Louisiana Super Plant program is for the LSU AgCenter to identify and promote exceptional plants that perform well in Louisiana. Some of these are new varieties, and some are older varieties with a proven track record. Super Plants perform equally well in all parts of the state.

The LSU AgCenter cooperates with nursery and landscape industry members in selecting Super Plants. The program is co-sponsored by the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association. One motto of the program is “university tested and industry approved.”

Each plant designated a Super Plant must have at least two years of evaluations and a proven track record. Trees and shrubs in the program are long-lived, require minimal care and have fewer disease and insect problems. They must be easily produced and available for all nursery and landscape industry wholesalers and retailers to market and sell.

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