AgCenter: Look for locally grown plants
Ferns and foliage plants await sale in a greenhouse at Hickory Hill Nursery in Forest Hill.
--John Chaney Photo
HAMMOND — Fall is prime time for adding new ornamental plants to the landscape.
Louisiana is one of the top states in the country for producing nursery crops. It’s also one of the leading states in retail garden center product sales.
“The nursery and landscape industry is the third largest Louisiana agricultural industry in terms of annual contributions to the state’s economy,” said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. “The industry is active in all 64 parishes.”
Nursery growers, landscaper professionals and garden centers in Louisiana employ more than 56,000 people, Owings said.
This month, the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is encouraging homeowners to purchase Louisiana-grown nursery plants.
While the phrase “buy fresh, buy local” is widely associated with fruits, vegetables and other farm produce, it also applies to landscape plants. “The LSU AgCenter also wants your landscape plants to be Louisiana grown,” Owings said.
Louisiana homeowners have several advantages to buying a landscape plant grown in Louisiana compared to a plant grown out of state, he said.
“Local production means less stress on plants due to shorter shipping durations as well as a fresher product at retail and a healthier plant when it gets home,” Owings said. “And a landscape plant grown in Louisiana will be better acclimated to Louisiana’s unique growing conditions.”
Louisiana producers are likely to grow Louisiana-recommended plants, like LSU AgCenter Louisiana Super Plants, than plants that would be more adapted to Texas, northern Mississippi or Alabama.
Many Louisiana retail garden centers now have their own growing operations. “The plants you buy today may well have been in a greenhouse next door or only a few miles away as recently as a day or two ago,” he said.
Mass merchandisers often buy plants for stores over a multi-state area, with a few growers supplying many states, while locally owned independent retail garden centers tend to buy from Louisiana greenhouse growers and nursery crop producers, Owings said.
“We know that buying local, whether wholesale or retail, benefits the local economy,” he said. “An investment in buying local means your money stays in your local community or parish.”
The Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association wants every family to plant together this fall, Owings said. They have a new promotional theme – “buy it, plant it, grow it, love it!”
This time of year is a good time for adding trees and shrubs to the landscape year, with better success than planting in the spring, Owings said.
Besides adding plants into the landscape, adding containers with combinations of “spiller,” filler and “thriller” plants is popular with families actively engaged in outdoor living, outdoor lifestyles, barbecuing and entertaining.
“And fall is a good time to consider trying a small vegetable garden,” Owings said.