[Image: Allen Owings]
[Image: Yan Chen]
News Release Distributed 01/03/14
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – Many residents of southeast Louisiana may not know that the LSU AgCenter has an agricultural experiment station in that area devoted to horticulture research and extension programs to aid the commercial nursery and landscape industry, as well as home gardeners.
The LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station’s mission is to conduct research on environmental and production factors that affect quality and sustainability of plants in the landscape.
Projects at the station include evaluating herbaceous ornamental landscape plants, studying landscape roses, managing the thrips insect for nursery growers and landscape professionals and conducting nutrient management studies.
The station annually conducts the largest herbaceous ornamental plant trial in a multi-state area. These multi-year trials are used to introduce and recommend the best varieties and new plants for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region. Hundreds of visitors view these evaluations each year. The program also is helpful in selecting Louisiana Super Plants.
A multidisciplinary-team research project on thrips emphasizes management – variety selection, fertilizer and water – and the use of biopesticides and action thresholds to manage thrips more effectively and economically.
Landscape nutrient management research provides appropriate fertilization guidelines for optimum growth and bloom of plants while reducing over-application and runoff from the landscape. The ability of landscape plants to remove, or filter, nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff water is being evaluated for use in stormwater mitigation systems.
New plant growth regulators and application technology are being evaluated for improved production efficiency and reduced landscape maintenance costs. Information is provided to growers and landscape maintenance companies.
Production methods used by wholesale growers can affect a plant’s ability to tolerate environmental stresses in the landscape. Research at the Hammond Research Station is continuing to identify the most effective production methods and proper use of fertilizers and water along with plant selection. This research can identify methods for lowering landscape costs and reducing the use of environmental resources.
Research programs at the station also select and breed potential new ornamental plants for the state’s growing nursery and landscape industry.
In 2013 horticulture professor Charles Johnson from the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences and Daniel Wells, a newly appointed post-doctoral researcher in horticulture, began studying potential new varieties of Vitex (chaste tree) and Crateagus (native hawthorn). Several species of each plant are included in breeding, hybridization and selection.
Louisiana Master Gardeners are actively engaged in activities at the station. All Louisiana Master Gardeners are invited to tour the station and attend educational programs at the annual Master Gardener appreciation day scheduled this year on May 9.
Nursery, landscape and garden center professionals view research activities at the station each year at a spring industry open house and a landscape horticulture field day each October.
The station also hosts landscape pest management programs in addition to certification programs for Louisiana’s nursery and landscape professionals.
The Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden Horticulture Lecture Series is also a popular event each year.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.