Gardening tips for plants and ferns
Ferns for the Shade- I often get questions about which plants may be grown with success in a shady location. Many gardeners would like to have huge, full live oak trees and lawn grass growing under the trees. Sorry, those two things don’t go together very well. Since the live oak tree is a larger investment in time and money, most are reluctant to remove it for the sake of the St. Augustine grass. There are, however, several plants that will grow and prosper under the influence of shade. Ferns meet this requirement.
Ferns vary in height from less than a foot up to three feet high. Ferns aren’t “bloomers”, but their leaves (fronds) are quite attractive and have a unique texture. Not many insects or diseases attack ferns. This low-maintenance feature is an advantage to many gardeners. Ferns do need adequate moisture.
Be prepared to irrigate them. Ferns should be planted in a location that receives about one to four hours of morning sun or filtered sunlight per day. Ferns tend to grow best in a higher organic matter soil. Incorporating well-composted material into the plant bed before planting is usually helpful. Mulching the fern will reduce the loss of soil moisture.
Several good ferns include: maidenhair fern, holly fern, leather-leaf fern, sword fern, Christmas fern, royal fern, lady fern and lace fern.
If you want a fern-like plant that grows in a sunnier location and is less susceptible to drought, try asparagus fern. It is neither fern nor asparagus, but it looks like both. I have two asparagus ferns that have been growing in large pots on the western exposure of my car park area for several years. They have been very hardy and don’t seem to mind hot afternoon sun. In the summer, I give them a little bit of the water hose in times of very hot, dry weather. Other than that, there is very little care required.
Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival – On the topic of gardening, one of the best educational gardening events held in the country is scheduled for March 28-29 in the Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. This is the tenth year for the Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival. Over four thousand persons have visited the festival for each of the past several years. The hours for Saturday, March 28 are 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. and for Sunday, March 29 from 9:00 am to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $2.00 per person, with the proceeds going to the parish 4-H program. Children under 12 get in free.
Whether you are a vegetable grower, fruit tree owner, flower planter, weed fighter, lawn grass enthusiast, ornamental shrub or shade tree lover, there will be something of interest there for you. In addition to educational displays, commercial exhibits and educational speaker presentations, a Plant Disease and Information Booth will be conducted throughout the festival to diagnose plant problems, answer general garden questions and make suggestions for the upcoming season.
Educational presentation programs for Saturday morning will center on Home Vegetable Gardening. Topics covered will include: “General Home Vegetable Gardening”-Dr. Tom Koske; “Cucurbit (cucumber, squash, etc.) Production”-Dr. Koske; “Recognition and Control of Diseases in the Home Garden”-Dr. Don Ferrin and “Insect Pest Control in the Home Garden”-Dr. Stuart Gauthier. Saturday afternoon will be devoted to Fruit Production: “Growing Berry Fruits in the Home Orchard”-Dr. Davis Himelrick and “Growing Citrus in the Home Orchard”-Dr. Jimmy Boudreaux. Sunday morning will begin with Landscape Gardening: “Palms-Species and Landscape Cultural Practice Recommendations”-Dan Gill and “New and Interesting Plants for Home Landscapes”-Dr. Allen Owings. Topics specific to camellias and herbs will be addressed on Sunday afternoon: “Camellias-Cultivar Selections and Cultural Practices”-Jeff McMillian and “Cooking with Herbs in the Kitchen”-Ms. Melda Siebe. As you can see there will be a variety of topics covered by LSU AgCenter faculty, nurserymen and other experts.
Even if you aren’t interested in the formal presentations, there is still plenty to keep a gardener busy and lots of items to purchase at this year’s festival. There is even a booth for kids, with 4-H members providing “hands on” activities related to gardening.
All interested persons are invited to attend the Southwest Louisiana Garden Festival. Come spend part or all of the weekend with us in a wholesome, educational environment for friends and families.