Dan Gill

Dan is an Associate Professor in Consumer Horticulture with the LSU AgCenter. He is the spokesperson for the LSU AgCenterââ

I once saw a refrigerator magnet that said, "When Mama ain't happy, nobody ain't happy." Well, you can substitute the word "root" for "mama," and you'll have an essential message for plants.

Always remember that the roots are the foundation for a healthy plant. And whether you realize it or not, much of what you do as a gardener is guided by the needs of the plant's roots.

Controlling weedy vines requires determination and persistent effort over time.

My vine control advice is generally about 60% pep-talk, and about 40% technique and herbicides to use, because you really have to determine that you're going to take the hand of the problem and control the situation.

Vines are difficult to control for a variety of reasons.

August is a transitional time of the year in the vegetable garden. While cool season plantings begin in earnest next month, some of the more heat-tolerant cool season vegetables, such as the cole crops, can be planted into the garden now.

And since our first frosts generally don't arrive until late November or early December, we can also plant warn season vegetables for fall production.

If you want to boost the color in your landscape now, don't let the heat stop you. Nurseries have an excellent selection of colorful bedding plants that will thrive in whatever heat the summer throws at them. These plants come in a variety of heights, textures, and colors.

Weed control is a constant part of maintaining a landscape, particularly here during our long hot summer. That's something that will never go away. But you do need to make sure you're doing the right things to make sure your efforts produce the best results possible.

South Louisiana gardeners often make use of tropical plants in their landscapes. These are plants that are native to climates where freezes don't occur. Using them has some benefits but they also come with some drawbacks. Why do we use them? Because nothing else thrives in our landscape during the torrid heat and humidity of a Louisiana summer.

Although native to the Far East, Crape Myrtles are almost indispensable in the southern landscape. Their vibrantly colored flowers in shades of pink, purple, red and white, from May into September, virtually define the summer season here in Baton Rouge. The relatively small size of the Crape Myrtle and the colorful flowers the tree produces makes it useful in a variety of landscape situations.

It seems we have more than our share of insects, diseases, and weeds here in Louisiana. This comes true particularly during mid to late summer. It's important to remember that the use of pesticides, such as insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides, is only one way of controlling these pests. There are other techniques gardeners can use to help prevent the severe infestations that make use of pesticides necessary.

Summer flowering vines can be used to provide color, fragrance, and interest to Louisiana landscapes. They can also offer screening and shade if they're allowed to cover an overhead structure. Indeed, no other landscape plants can supply the same effects as vines.

To be honest, our best and most diverse herb gardens grow in the milder part of the year. The intense heat of summer takes a toll on many of our favorite culinary herbs. But there are heat-loving herbs that can be planted now for production throughout the summer.