Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Resodding, Live Oaks, Blooming Snake Plant & Gardenia Leaves


Clean up after Laura in DeRidder. Photo: Mickey Welsh, Montgomery Advertiser.


The process of recovering from two hurricanes in SW Louisiana is like a marathon race and will require endurance and perseverance. Marilyn, like many homeowners, is working to recover from storm damage, and she asks, “After losing all of the grass in my front yard due to hurricane Laura damage ( taking out trees, getting stumps ground up, re-routing my gas line) etc. I have decided that I need to have it re-sodded. I thought that late winter or early spring was the best time to do this. I was told - by the people that do this- that now was a good time because it would get a lot of rain in the winter. Advice please.”

AHA responded, “Yes. We are entering the season to establish sod, and to plant trees and shrubs.” The reason for a fall planting season is to take advantage of cooler temperatures that enable the ground to retain moisture. In contrast, establishing lawn and woody plants in August would be very risky due to the heat stress and evaporation of moisture.


A live oak in a landscape. Photo: Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter.

Live Oaks

Randy asked for information about his live oaks, “Hello, I…have two live oaks in my yard. One of them looks healthy and green and one of them does not look as healthy and the leaves are not as green. The unhealthy one looks to have lichen all over the branches. I have tilled around the base of the tree to loosen up the soil. Do you have any suggestions?”

AHA shared these comments, “The tilling may have damaged some roots. Using a lawn aerator will reduce soil compaction and enable water and fertilizer to reach the roots quicker. Let us start with a soil test and then fertilize according to recommendations. You can pick up a soil test kit at your AgCenter office. The lichens are a symptom of a thin canopy. Shade will reduce the amount of lichens on a tree or shrubs. I hope this information will give you a good start on helping your tree.”

Also, here is a note about fertilizing. Lime can be applied in the fall and winter while fertilizer should be applied in April.


A mother-in-law's tongue in bloom. Flowers shown in red boxes. Photo: Carol Canerdy.

Blooming Snake Plant

Carol sent a text message and an image, “Although this mother-in-law’s tongue [plant] might have bloomed before, this is the first time that I have noticed in three years. “

Mr. Gerald Klingaman, retired Extension Horticulturist with the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, wrote about the flowers, “Old plants occasionally flower, usually in late winter or early spring, on three-foot long stems bearing small, tubular fragrant, greenish-white flowers that are more interesting than beautiful.”

Mother-in-law’s tongue (MILT) is also called snake plant. Klingaman also make this encouraging comment, “[MILT} is a good introductory plant for children because its toughness instills confidence, its slow growth teaches patience, and all sorts of interesting things can be done with it.”

Klingaman finishes with a note regarding the lower maintenance of MILT, “Snakeplants survive in about as low a light level as you would encounter in the home. They may not grow in these dimly lit recesses, but they will sit there just the same – and with an occasional dusting – will be as good as the day they were placed there. They do not need a lot of water and fertilization seems optional, at least when the plant is inside. If you want your plant to grow, move it to the patio in the summer and give it an occasional shot of fertilizer and an occasional watering.”


A discolored gardenia leaf. Photo: Christie Frederic, Master Gardener.

Gardenia Leaves

Christie emailed AHA on behalf of a family member, “[Do you have] any idea what is going on with this gardenia? My sister is growing it near Baton Rouge.”

Gardenias and other evergreen plants and trees lose their old leaves in the fall and winter. The old leaves of gardenia plants will turn bright yellow and drop off. The brown part of the leaf above could be from a fungal infection or part of the aging process of these leaves. Infected leaves need to be gathered and removed from the plant to prevent future fungal spores from infecting healthy leaves.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

11/16/2020 5:48:19 PM
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