Look for AgCenter ‘Super Plants’ to brighten your landscape

News Release Distributed 05/01/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – Gardeners looking to brighten their landscapes can turn to the LSU AgCenter's Louisiana Super Plants program to learn about "university tested and industry approved" plants.

"It's an effort to take the ornamental horticulture plant evaluation results from the AgCenter and provide a list of highly recommended flowers, trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials that will do well for the average home gardener in Louisiana," said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.

The Super Plants program launched in 2010 and was initially funded by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Super Plants feature beautiful plants that are also tough enough to perform well in Louisiana landscapes. Each Super Plant has undergone several years of evaluation and observation to ensure a positive reputation, Owings said.

With the help of an industry advisory committee, AgCenter horticulturists unveil three or four new Super Plants every spring and fall. Plants that make the cut are chosen because they work well in industry and exhibit superior performance under Louisiana growing conditions, Owings said.

So far, 26 plants have been designated as “Super.” The warm-season plants include:

– Aphrodite althea

– BabyWing begonia

– Bandana lantanas

– Butterfly pentas

– Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink buddleia

– Frostproof gardenia

– Kauai torenia

– Little Ruby alternanthera

– Luna hibiscus

– Penny Mac hydrangea

– Senorita Rosalita Cleome

– Serena angelonia

– Shoal Creek vitex

The cool-season plants include:

– Amazon dianthus

– Belinda's Dream rose

– Camelot foxglove

– Conversation Piece azalea

– Diamonds Blue delphinium

– Drift rose

– Evergreen Sweetbay magnolia

– Redbor kale

– ShiShi Gashira camellia

– Sorbet violas

– Southern sugar maple

– Swan columbine

– Willow oak

In 2013, the total value of the Louisiana nursery industry at the wholesale level was $154.8 million.

Owings said Super Plants has proved a good marketing and promotion campaign for independent retailers. The program not only increases the visibility of the AgCenter's horticulture research, but it also helps disseminate that information to customers.

The program has “made available some really good plants that people might not know about, but now they're being talked about and promoted," he said.

In fact, nursery retailers have reported that sales of some Super Plants have increased by 500 to 3,000 percent, Owings said.

Super Plants are available at numerous retailers throughout Louisiana. For a list of participating retailers and more information about Super Plants, go here.

Olivia McClure

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