Arbor Day in Louisiana is the third Friday in January.

Started in Nebraska in 1872, Arbor Day is designated as a day for planting trees. In Louisiana, January is considered the best month to do this.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings says some of the most popular and best trees for Louisiana landscapes include the Southern live oak, Southern magnolia (the state flower), baldcypress (the state tree), crape myrtles, deciduous oaks, southern sugar maple, hollies, vitex, Sweetbay magnolia and pines.

Trees are a long-term investment, so select the correct tree for your planting location and purpose. During this time of year, the soil remains warm, encouraging vigorous root growth, and trees will have several months to get established before summer’s heat.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill provides these guidelines for proper tree planting:

Dig the hole at least twice the diameter and no deeper than the height of the root ball.

Remove the tree from any container or binding and place it in the hole.

Make sure the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the surrounding soil.

Backfill around the tree using only the soil that came from the hole without any additions.

Do not fertilize trees planted now.

Stake the tree only if it is tall enough to be unstable.

Keep the area 1 to 2 feet around the trunk free from weeds and grass and mulched 2 to 4 inches deep but not against the base of the trunk.

Upcoming events

Arbor Day activities scheduled for Jan. 16 at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden have been postponed.

“The grounds are just too wet for the event,” says Jeff Kuehny, Botanic Gardens resident director. “With the unseasonable rains we’ve had, we’re just unable to prepare the area as we would like.”

He says Arbor Day activities will be rescheduled for the spring.

“This annual event is important to the continued reforestation of the Burden Woods, providing an educational asset to our community,” Kuehny says.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.