Louisiana is a southern state located on the Gulf Coast of the United States. The benefit of its location is that the state is warm and receives plenty of precipitation. Although a fair amount of the land in Louisiana is swampy, there is plenty of space for people to plant home gardens. Take a look at what Louisiana gardeners need to know about the state’s climate and recent weather before heading into the new planting season.
About Louisiana’s Climate
Louisiana has several factors that make the area the perfect place to plant a garden. The first thing that most Louisiana gardeners will be thrilled to learn is that this part of the country has a long growing season. The Köppen climate type in this state is classified as “humid subtropical,” which means the state has long, hot summers and brief, mild winters.
Depending on the area in the state, Louisiana gardeners can benefit from between 220 to 320 days in a growing season. The warmest parts of the state could grow crops and flowers in all but the two coldest months of the year.
Louisiana also receives a fair amount of precipitation. On average, the state receives somewhere between 50 and 70 inches of rain, with more rain in the southeastern part of the state than in the northern part.
On average, Louisiana gets about 222 sunny days each year, making it one of the sunniest states in the U.S. That means plants will get plenty of sunshine. Louisiana has hardiness zones 8 and 9 in the vast majority of the state.
All told, people that build home gardens in this state reap a lot of benefits from living in such a warm climate.
Average Weather Facing Louisiana Gardeners
The average temperatures in Louisiana are rather mild throughout the entire year. For example, the average January high temperature is 59 °F while the average low in the same month is about 36 °F. By the time March rolls around, the average high temperature in the state reaches upwards of 70 °F while only dropping into the mid-40s as a low. That means people can safely plant crops earlier than in many other states.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Louisiana cannot get cold. For example, the coldest Louisiana January ever recorded was in 1899, when temperatures pushed as low as -16 °F in some parts of the state. At one point, the temperature in Baton Rouge, a rather typically warm place, dropped to 9 °F for a night.
The Weather Louisiana Gardeners Need to Worry About
Living on the Gulf Coast comes with several benefits and some drawbacks. While the weather is fair, the downside is that powerful storms often strike this part of the country. The state experiences about 60 days of thunderstorms per year, and some of those storms can spawn tornadoes.
Louisiana receives a fair number of tornadoes, averaging close to or over 50 tornadoes per year since 2017. Some years, like 2014, only saw 17 tornadoes strike the area while 103 tornadoes touched down in 2018.
Even though Louisiana is not among the states that receive the most tornadoes per year, they pose a significant threat to human life and property. They’ll easily tear plants from the ground.
The other major weather phenomenon that affects this part of the country is hurricanes. These powerful tropical cyclones frequently impact the Louisiana area. Some of the most damaging hurricanes of all time, like Hurricane Katrina, have directly impacted the Louisiana coast. It’s impossible to downplay the effects that such storms have on people. The powerful winds and rain can also devastate agricultural areas by tearing out plants and inundating them.
How Has the Recent Weather Impacted Louisiana?
Louisiana has had a mild winter starting in 2022. The year 2023 started off with a series of harmful weather. On January 2, 2023, Louisiana and other southern states experienced an outbreak of tornadoes, including an EF2 tornado hitting Jackson, Louisiana.
Another tornado outbreak occurred on January 24, 2023, spawning about six tornadoes throughout the state. This outbreak also featured an EF2 tornado, but no loss of life occurred as a result of it.
These powerful storms could have impacted perennial plants, shrubs, or trees that were already in the ground. However, the storms occurred too early to affect many other plants that would typically be sown in springtime.
When Are the Last Frost Dates in Louisiana?
Like other states, it’s not wise for Louisiana gardeners to sow their crops at the same time throughout the state. Some areas experience their last frost before others. Take a look at the last frost date for selected cities throughout the state and see the average last day that a frost hits a specific area.
|City||Last Frost Date|
|Baton Rouge||March 7|
|New Orleans||March 1|
Keep in mind that these dates are not precise. The best practice is to look at the weather outlook around this date and plan accordingly.
5 Plants Louisiana Gardeners Love (And When to Plant Them)
Louisiana gardeners have some favorite plants that they enjoy growing. Learn what plants grow well in the state and see when you should start planting them. The planting dates are based on the last frost date for Baton Rouge.
Gardeners should plant their tomatoes indoors from January 10 to January 24. From there, they should be transplanted outside between March 14 and April 4, depending on the weather. Remember to stake them!
Onions must be started outdoors so they can take root. Planters don’t need to wait for spring, though. Put them in the ground between February 7 and February 28, and these vegetables will flourish.
3. Bell Peppers
Growers can start bell peppers indoors around December 27th until January 10th. Then, they should be planted outside about two weeks after the last frost, around March 14 to March 28.
4. Jalapeño Peppers
Jalapeño peppers are the same as bell peppers in terms of planting. Start them inside the last week of December or the first week of January. Plant them in the soil between March 14 and March 28.
Louisiana gardeners can start cucumbers inside during the first two weeks of February. They should be transplanted outdoors between March 21 and April 4.
Louisiana gardeners face some adversity from the weather. However, they also get the benefits of a warm climate with plenty of precipitation to help them grow their plants. Knowing when to plant is a major part of growing gardening success, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for severe weather.
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