Dan Gill

November thru February is the prime planting season for hearty trees, shrubs, ground covers, and vines in Louisiana.

So now is a time to assess your landscaping situation and make plans for what you might want to do.

LSU AgCenter

I recently came across some poison ivy as I was working in an out of the way part of my landscape.

Poison ivy is abundant in the summer time in urban, suburban, and rural landscapes. I keep an eye out for this plant, as I'm quite allergic to it. And I promptly and ruthlessly deal with any poison ivy as soon as I see it.

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.

LSU AgCenter

The pace of things tends to slow down this time of the year in the garden. Although we may continue to plant, prepare beds, harvest winter vegetables, and enjoy cool season flowers, most gardeners tend to find this time of the year a more relaxed time.

Taking a little time now can save a little time and money when moving into high gear this coming spring.