A nuisance vine that often grows around homes, Cat's Claw produces a beautiful yellow flower in early spring.
A nuisance vine that often grows around homes, Cat’s Claw produces a beautiful yellow flower in early spring.(

Gardeners who move here from other parts of the country often are amazed at how fast our landscapes develop and mature. With our long, warm growing season, fertile soil and generous rainfall, rapid growth is the result.

This is a mixed blessing. Area gardeners often joke that the challenge of gardening in New Orleans is finding plants that will grow well here — and then keeping them under control.

As we move into the summer, it’s important to keep an eye on flowerbeds, shrubs and vines that are growing too large or too crowded. Lots of plants have grown enthusiastically since last spring. By mid-summer, it’s likely that beds of annuals, perennials and tropicals may benefit from the controlling hand of the gardener.

War on weed vines: how to get them off your fence, roof, tree and garden

What seems to grow faster than a speeding bullet, acts indestructible and is able to leap large buildings in a single bound? Look, up in the air, waving from the rooftop — it’s a weedy vine. Plan of attack A number of weedy vines are persistent problems in the New Orleans area. For specific advice, click on the following…

A gardener often has to play the role of referee. Plants grow larger than expected and start crowding other plants. Tall plants shade out or fall over onto smaller plants. Plants spread into areas where they were not intended to grow. Vines develop a mind of their own and take off in totally unexpected directions. Without the guiding hand of the gardener, the resulting chaos can lead to disaster — particularly if things are allowed to grow unchecked for an extended period.

Some of these problems can be avoided by becoming familiar with a plant before you add it to your landscape. Always know the mature size of a plant before you plant it. I find it amazing that people will ask how big a puppy will grow before they decide to adopt it, yet fail to ask about the mature size of young plants before they bring them home for their gardens. As a result, the trees, shrubs, vines and perennials could become too large for their location.

Need to get rid of a pesky banana tree? Here's how to do it

Another problem is planting beds with shrubs or bedding plants spaced too close together. Gardeners often want newly planted beds to look full and lush as soon as they’re planted, without taking into consideration the growth the plants will make. A newly planted bed with plants properly spaced should not look full. Most of us tend to be guilty of this at one time or another. The bed looks good for a while, but eventually becomes overcrowded. Then the gardener has to step in, pruning and snipping to make sure everybody has room to grow.

Even in a well-planned landscape, though, the controlling influence of the gardener is always important. The most useful…