Bayou Garden

Saturdays at 7:35am and 9:35am

From selecting the right plants to proper watering techniques and dealing with pests, host Dan Gill delivers the information you need to garden successfully in Louisiana's unique climate.

Yellow Gingko Trees wrapped and ready for shipping.
roseannadana / Flickr

If you're planning to add some trees or shrubs to your landscape, it's a good idea to get this done as soon as possible.

The ideal planting season for hearty trees and shrubs here in the Baton Rouge runs from the fall into the spring and finishes around the end of March.

The reason we want to get these plants in the ground now, is the weather is cool, and we can expect another month or so of mild weather.

The transition from pot to ground is very stressful for the plants. Planting in hot weather increases the stress.

A termite.
LSU AgCenter

The next several months are a popular time for adding new beds of shrubs, ground covers, and flowers to the landscape. It's also a popular time for reworking and replanting existing beds you may have.

When you're dealing with beds right next to your house, this work can affect your home's termite protection.

Houses are typically protected from subterranean termite damage with chemical barriers in the soil. To protect the structure, the soil immediately next to the slab or piers is treated with a long-lasting liquid termiticide. The presence of this chemical in the soil provides a protective seal that prevents termites from tunneling through the soil and entering your home.

This protective treated soil should never be disturbed or altered. Also be careful with mulch, as mulch can provide a bridge past the treated soil which termites can use to enter your home.

Bat guano fertilizer
Chiot's Run / Flickr

February, March, and April are popular months to fertilize. There's some real confusion about what fertilizers are and why we use them. That confusion comes about because of the terms we use, such as "plant food" and we're "feeding" them.

Instead, fertilizer contains the elements the plants need to make food. Scientists have found there are 13 elements in the soil needed by plants to grown healthy. The elements used in the greatest quantities are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of winter solstice on northern hemisphere.
Przemyslaw "Blueshade" Idzkiewicz / Wikimedia Commons

As a gardener, you must understand a fundamental principle of how plants grow. Plants consume light to provide the energy they need to power and build their bodies.

Plants are solar powered organisms. They use light energy to build sugar out of carbon dioxide and water. This sugar, along with tiny amounts of minerals absorbed from the soil, is used to build the body of the plant and run its biological processes.

You must learn the light preferences of a plant and provide that light as closely as possible. Nothing matters if you don't get the light right.

Pansies blooming in Shreveport, La.

Every year, Louisiana gardeners see amazingly beautiful beds of pansies, violas, dianthus, snapdragons, and many others, whose peak blooming season is around April. Wanting to create the same beauty in their gardens, they go out to the nurseries in April and purchase these plants and plant them in their gardens.

Invariably, they're disappointed when their plants never achieve the spectacular results they saw in others people's gardens.

There's a reason for this. The most spectacular mid-to-late season displays of cool season bedding plants were planted in the fall. Cool season bedding plants planted in April can not and never will achieve the beauty of those planted earlier.

They key to outstanding beds of these plants is early planting. And know what? It's not too late!