Garden centers are bursting with color right now. Plants of all kinds — from annual and perennial bedding plants to flowering shrubs and trees — are ready to add to your landscape.
You'll want to start with a clean slate, so there's a few gardening tasks you should do.
First, pull out winter weeds and remove unsightly cold-damaged plants, which can take out a great deal of soil. Replenish the soil to even up your beds.
You'll also want to add soil nutrients, which have been zapped by last year's plants. Top off your beds with a mixture of raised-bed media and compost, which will add organic matter and bring nutrients back to the soil.
You can make your own compost from kitchen scraps, such as vegetable peelings, eggs and coffee grounds, combined with leaves. Or you can purchase manure composts containing an assortment of manures from cows, sheep, horses and chickens.
Another option is worm castings — also known as vermicast. Mushroom compost also is available. These little fungi help with decomposition, provide organic matter and make nutrients available to plants. Many of these options are readily available at garden centers.
Next is the fun part: selecting plants.
You want to choose the right plant for the right spot. Before buying, know how much sunlight an area gets and the soil for good drainage.
When choosing plants, consider selections in the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plants program.
Super Plants have a proven track record with many years of reliable performance in Louisiana landscapes or have gone through several years of university evaluations and observations. Look for these plants at local nurseries.
This year’s warm-season bedding plant selections are the Beacon impatiens series and the Suncredible Yellow sunflower. Both were top performers in field trials at the Hammond Research Station.
Beacon impatiens do best in shaded areas. Other Super Plant selections for shade are BabyWing begonias, compact varieties from the SunPatiens series and the Kauai torenia series.
If you’ve got an area blazing with full sun all day, the Suncredible yellow sunflower is for you. This is an ever-blooming sunflower that is best suited toward the back of the bed because it grows tall. They make great cut flowers, and the pollinators just love them.
You can find a complete list of Super Plants selections along with information about each plant at lsuagcenter.com/superplants. Listed are warm-season bedding plant selections grouped by growth habit and area.
Flowers for shade: BabyWing begonia series; Beacon impatiens series; SunPatients, compact varieties; Kauai torenia series
Foliage interest: Little Ruby alternanthera, Henna coleus, Flamethrower coleus series, Fireworks pennisetum
Plants with flowers that attract pollinators: Serena angelonia series, Serenita Raspberry angelonia, Intenz Classic celosia, Senorita Rosalita cleome, Mesa gaillardia series, Luna hibiscus series, Evolution Violet salvia, farinacea, Evolution White salvia farinacea, Flutteryby Tutti Fruitt buddleia, Butterfly pentas series, Lucky Star pentas series, Bandana lantana series
Ground covers and border plants: Homestead Purple verbena, Lemon sedum