Monday, January 16, 2017

Crepe Murder, Its Just A Shout Away

Horticulture Hotline 01/16/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

The question about pruning Crepe Myrtles and other plants seem to top the list of questions for this week. The butchers are out there! The time is now for getting in your soil test, so you can amend the soil by spring time. Do you have any disease prone plants (roses, etc.) that could benefit from a little sanitation? What is the population of moles in the Lowcountry? What is the population of moles in your yard? Have you applied Neem Oil for overwintering insects and disease?

Crepe Myrtles are the most abused tree in the landscape. Since they bloom on new growth, someone “topped” them a while back and notice the flush of new growth and the prolific blooms. These heavy blooms are supported by wimpy 18 – 24 sprouts that just developed that growing season. When it rains, the bloom catches water and becomes even heavier. The bloom will hang down and eventually the wimpy new growth supporting the bloom will split off tree leaving an open wound for insects and disease.

Instead of “topping” the tree to increase blooms, a good fertility program will accomplish the same thing without ruining the beautiful natural branch structure of the tree. A soil test and program can guide you to the right fertilizer for your tree. Have you ever seen a Crepe Myrtle in the winter when the leaves are gone, and sense the tree’s embarrassment, like a dog with the cone on its head? A tree that has been “topped” is standing there naked of any foliage with these big nasty swollen knobs at the end of the branch, like huge warts. The tree that is pruned correctly is standing there naked and proud, like a nude Greek Statue.

The correct pruning for a Crepe Myrtle involves removing dead limbs and crossing limbs. Any limbs growing toward the middle of the tree are good candidates for removal. If a limb is growing to the outside of the tree let it be. Opening up the center some for sunlight penetration and air movement is always a good idea to help prevent disease. Sometimes Crepe Myrtles, being a multi-trunk tree, can have too many canes growing from the ground, and one of these needs to be removed. Removing these canes is best done while the tree is very young; however, you can prune these canes out once the tree is older.

There is a very rare occasion that a landscape designer orders that a tree should be topped. Under certain circumstances usually involving safety concerns or visibility concerns a designer will recommend keeping the tree at a certain height. When I worked on Hilton Head, we had a safety situation by a guard gate that required us to “top” the Crepe Myrtles; however, we did not “top” the other Crepe Myrtles in the project. Some businesses want their sign to be seen, and Citadel Mall is practicing pollarding, a type of severe pruning that the Crepe Myrtle can tolerate.

Now days, Crepe Myrtles are available in all different sizes from 3 feet to 30 feet, so planting the right one to fit the scale of your landscape is crucial. Much of this “topping” can be avoided with the proper plant selection and proper fertility. Whoever is planting the tree (or any plant) should look at its mature height and spread. Then plant the right plant for the space.

If you live in Mt. Pleasant, learn the local ordinances because they have laws about the proper pruning of Crepe Myrtles.

After you prune your Crepe Myrtle properly, now is the perfect time to add Cotton Burr Compost as a mulch, SeaHume as a biostimulant and minor nutrient treasure chest, and a tree and shrub drench for insect protection.

Spring is coming. Preemerge?  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Getting Off To A Good Start in 2017

Horticulture Hotline 01/09/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Are you ready for the 2017 season in your yard?

Here are a few things to do on these nice winter days.

·         Take some soil to Possum’s to get the soil tested – for everyone that has not already.
·         Kill winter weeds now while they are young and your grass is dormant. It is easier to kill weeds when they are young and actively growing. Once they go into their reproductive mode and start to flower and seed, weeds are much harder to kill. While your grass is dormant is a good time to control weeds too as opposed to the heat of the summer or when the grass is coming out of dormancy in the spring.
·         Take mower in to have serviced to beat the Spring rush. With the new ethanol gas lawn mower engines and other engines have had issues. No one likes their mechanic to tell them, “pick it up in 4 weeks.”
·         Keep leaves off lawn areas. Keeps moisture from being trapped and if you or your lawn service are applying products, you will have a more uniform coverage without the leaves.
·         Move any shrub or tree now before it is too late. Root prune now, move before they start putting on new growth. Try DieHard Transplant to help survival.
·          Spray trees and shrubs with paraffinic oil (ultra-fine, Omni Supreme oil) as opposed to petroleum oils (Volck) to control over-wintering insects. Watch temperatures. If you have ongoing issues with scale, aphids, white flies, or other sucking bugs, try Safari or Dominion for long term control. Neem oil works on diseases as well as insects.
·         Have you tried Lime / Sulfur spray around the ground of deciduous plants that get diseased? Roses, hydrangea and blueberries are good examples of plants that benefit from this sanitation practice.
·         Sharpen pruning tools or purchase new ones.
·         If you haven’t already, get your bulbs in the ground.
·         Apply SeaHume to turf, trees, flowers, and shrubs. Adding organics now will help in the spring. Cotton Burr Compost?
·         Re-do bed lines to reflect maturing landscape.
·         Get bird house ready for nesting birds.
·         Have moles, get Mole Patrol or Repellex Mole Repellent – they really work.
·         Have deer, get Deer Stopper – it really works.
·         Check irrigation or get on professional’s list to check. Be sure the heads are pointed the right way. Can you eliminate (turn off) the zone watering the shrubs and trees? Have you tried wetting agents to lower your water bill (we hear between 30 and 60 percent)? Less water equals less disease.
·         Prune Crepe Myrtles – don’t butcher them. Remove crossing (rubbing) limbs, inward growing limbs and diseased limbs to open them up for better light penetration and air movement. Topping or reducing their height is not considered proper pruning.
·         Hold off on pruning plants damaged by the cold – we could still have more freezing temperatures.
·         Test well for salt if you use a well for watering.
·         Attend meetings of the Rose, Camellia, Horticultural Societies and other like horticultural societies. Get ready to preemerge in February. Kill small seeded summer annual weeds before they take over your landscape.
·         Get out and enjoy our County, State and City parks as well as our local plantations.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Top Performers 2016 Part 2

Here are some more top performers from 2016:

Pro-Pest Professional Rodent Lure is a lure for mice and rats that works! Usually I would start a new year off writing about something a little more romantic than rodents; however, with all the construction and with the Lowcountry being the most hospitable place in the world the rodents, bedbugs, and roaches have come here too!
Use Pro-Pest Professional Rodent Lure with a snap trap or glue board and you will notice the difference. The matrix of attractants is peanut-free for those with allergies (or for the professionals treating accounts that must be peanut-free) and is really attractive to bait shy rodents. I have had several pictures of two rats caught on one trap sent to me by professionals using this aromatic blend of food-grade products.

Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. It is not the holiday season around our house without several trips through the light show. To think it has been going on for twenty-seven years and the excitement is still there (with some of mine I think it is because the smores are still there).
Considered one of the:
“Top 100 Events in North America,” American Bus Association
 “Top 10 Light Shows in the USA,” America’s Best Online
“Third Best Public Lights Display in the US,” USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice  Award. Just to name a few of the Holiday Festival of Lights recent accolades. When travelling during the holiday season, I know I have toured other light shows, and none of them hold a candle to the Holiday Festival of Lights.                         

Growth regulators helped out with plants and pests this year. Bed bug, fire ant, roach and flea control success has been greatly increased by the addition of growth regulators. Customers controlling fleas outdoors and indoors were aided by the addition of growth regulators. The addition of a growth regulator to a contact kill product greatly increased the success of managing a pest population by disrupting the insect’s life cycle. Once you kill the pest, there are no new ones to replace them.
With all the rain plant growth regulators helped many contractors and brave homeowners control the growth of their plants or turf with a control product instead of a mower or hedge trimmer. With all the rain this fall, some yards were hard to keep maintained with a mower because they were too wet. The right application of a plant growth regulator can easily cut your need to mow in half to even a quarter of the frequency that you usually mow. If you do not want to do your whole yard, consider doing the edges along your sidewalk, driveway, and bed lines. Less edging means more time for other activities.
The growth of your shrubs can also be controlled by plant growth regulators. Less hedging means more time for other activities. Just think no hedging (extension cord?), no clean up, no paper bag by street – priceless.

Invict Gold Cockroach Gel for roach control is one of those products that friends tell friends about. Customers will walk up to the counter and say, “my neighbor (substitute brother, sister, cousin, guy I drink beer with, girlfriend, buddy, mother, father, person I go to church with … you get the idea) says I need to try Invict Gold Cockroach Gel for my cousin (since no one admits they have roaches).” Invict Gold Cockroach Gel is a great product to rotate with to introduce a new bait matrix and new active ingredient to avoid bait aversion.  Invict Gold Cockroach Gel is a very fast acting bait compared to other baits.

I had a friend (known him since second grade and horticulturist from Clemson) call me about roach control. He had been using a different gel, so I suggested Invict Gold Cockroach Gel to mix up the active ingredients and bait matrix. He called me the next day to report the success he had. He called me back again later to let me know his wife (a lawyer) had read great reviews about Invict Gold Cockroach Gel online. A little online confirmation never hurts.

I always wonder who writes the online reviews…

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.