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New Orleans Garden Guidelines

Courtesy of New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways and the Lafayette Square Conservancy

  • If you live in New Orleans, at least part of your garden should by shaded.

  • Locations with morning sun and afternoon shade are the best for growing many plants in New Orleans.

  • If you want lush interior plants, periodically rotate your interior container plants to a shady spot in the garden during the 9 or so warm months of the year we enjoy in New Orleans.

  • Mulch is the key to weed control.

  • Don't rake and bag oak leaves or pine needles. Put them in your compost pile or use them as mulch in your garden beds. Not only do you reduce waste going in to landfills; but you can also save money.

  • Don't strive for perfection. Accept and savor the many “surprises” which happen in a garden.

  • Understand the dangers of formal, symmetrical layouts in our unpredictable world.

  • Limit the spraying of insecticides.

  • Gardens should be full of life – lizards, toads, mosquito hawks, bees, doodle bugs, etc. all add to a garden's charm and could be harmed by use of insecticides.

  • If a plant constantly needs spraying, consider getting rid of it and replacing it with a plant better suited for New Orleans conditions.

  • Learn to live with minor insect and disease problems which have only a minor effect on a plant's appearance or health.

  • Sometimes all it takes is a spray of water to control minor infestations of pests like aphids.

  • Encourage butterflies and hummingbirds to visit and stay awhile by using plant material which draws them into a garden.

  • Use bold textures, bright colors, interesting plant combinations in your garden.

  • Consider how you use color in a garden. Sometimes annuals and perennials in a limited color palette used in broad swaths can be very effective.

  • Know the correct times to plant certain annuals. In New Orleans, seasons vary from other parts of the country. Don't buy an annual from a chain store just because it might be the correct time to plant it somewhere else.

  • Be adventurous and try new plants. But beware of pretty pictures in plant catalogs. Buy plants locally, they are more likely to be suited to local conditions.

  • Treasure plants that have thrived in New Orleans gardens for generations. Pass these garden heirlooms on to your friends and neighbors.

  • Don't be hesitant to ask someone for a cutting of a plant you see in someone's garden. After all, it's a complement to their good taste in plants.

  • Awaken your sense of smell. Add plants that bring fragrance to a garden. Choose a variety of fragrant plants which will give you a succession of fragrant periods through the year.

  • Sweet olive never fails to delight. It's stealth fragrant periods are always pleasant surprises when not much else is fragrant.

  • Beware of competing fragrant plants which bloom at the same time. Confederate jasmine vine planted next to ligustrum does not make a good combination when it comes to complimentary scents.

  • New Orleanians have always tried to cheat nature by adding tropicals to their gardens. The longer between severe winters, the more established tropicals become in our gardens. But beware, the day of reckoning comes sooner or later so be prepared.

  • Periodic severe freezes can be a good thing when it comes to controlling rampart growth of tropical plants.

  • Water before an expected hard freeze.

  • Before a predicted severe freeze, take cuttings of favorite tropical plants such as tibouchina or coleus. Try placing the cuttings in an appropriate container with water and place in a bright window. I've had plants survive in this manner until it was safe to plant out again in the Spring.

  • After severe winter periods, be patient with freeze damaged plants. Cut back “mushy” stems, but don't dig up too soon as the plant may sprout back from the roots.

  • Pecan trees are usually the last to leaf out and are a sure sign that winter is over.

  • For some plants (zinnias, daisies, etc.), when you cut flowers for bouquets, it encourages the plant to produce more blooms.

  • Deadheading, pinching off spent blooms before they can produce seeds, also encourages more blooms.

Useful Links

New Orleans Department of Parks and Parkways www.nola.gov

Parkway Partners www.parkwaypartnersnola.org

Hike for KaTREEna www.hikeforkatreena.com

LSU AgCenter Lawn and Garden www.lsuagcenter.com

OnLine Plant Guide www.onlineplantguide.com

Dave's Garden www.davesgarden.com

Southern Living Home and Garden www.southernliving.com

Southern Living Plant Collection www.southernlivingplants.com

Compiled by Keith Bleichner, Vice-President / Lafayette Square Conservancy and Retired Chief Landscape Architect / N.O. Department of Parks and Parkways