Monday, April 20, 2015

Brown Patch Alert and Rose Show



When writing the Horticulture Hotline, I usually do not like to get too hysterical or alarmed about any event occurring in the landscape; however, this week is an exception. I can only remember one other time in 25 years of writing this column that I put out any type of alert (and that was so long ago, I can’t remember what it was about). The fungus is among us! Fungus likes moisture and new growth and right now we have both. Turf coming out of dormancy, moisture and the temperatures we are having are the perfect conditions for lawn diseases.

Rain and night time temperatures in the 60’s is perfect weather for Large Patch (Brown Patch) disease in turf. Unless you tarp your grass like a baseball diamond, it is hard to turn off the rain. Hopefully, you have your irrigation turned off for now.

All fungus diseases must have three factors line up for there to be an active problem. This is referred to as the disease triangle. There must be a susceptible host (your grass), a favorable environment (in this case cool nights, water, grass is coming out of dormancy….), and the disease must be present (in the soil in this case). When all of these conditions are met, the disease strikes your grass.

The quick fix would be to apply Cleary’s 3336 or Disarm throughout the yard. Cleary’s or Disarm are systemic fungicides that get into the plant (grass) and protect the grass plant from the disease. Getting a flu shot would be a human equivalent. With weather like this, plan on multiple applications of a fungicide, rotating chemistries. Applying the product before you get the disease, when you notice conditions are right, will save you money and time applying the product. You wouldn’t get a flu shot after you had the flu. Unlike the flu shot, Cleary’s and Disarm do have curative rates.

A general fungicide like Honor Guard for your ornamentals would also be a good idea to prevent disease. Insects like the new tender foliage also, so maybe mix in some insecticide when you spray. Bifen is a good broad spectrum insecticide.

The Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society’s 23rd annual Rose Show is going to be at Cypress Gardens on Saturday, April 25, 2015, from 1:00 to 4:30. The Rose Show is dedicated to Dr. Frank Heinsohn whose name is well known in the rose community both locally and beyond. Photography is a new section of competition this year. For more information go to www.charlestonrose.com.

What a deal! For only 10.00 (adults), 9.00 (seniors), 5.00 (children) you can see the cypress swamps (even take a boat ride), butterfly house, turtles, reptile house, walking trails, gardens and all the other many attractions of Cypress Gardens  plus ROSES! There will be roses from world class exhibitors as well as backyard enthusiast. If you are photographer, you can take a picture of anyone’s rose and even Photoshop it! Again for more information go to www.charlestonrose.com.


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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Horticulture Homerun



If you are reading this column, I imagine you have an interest in gardening. Well, this is an opportunity to hit a gardening homerun. The Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society’s 23rd annual Rose Show is going to be at Cypress Gardens on Saturday, April 25, 2015, from 1:00 to 4:30. The Rose Show is dedicated to Dr. Frank Heinsohn whose name is well known in the rose community both locally and beyond. Photography is a new section of competition this year. For more information go to www.charlestonrose.com.

What a deal! For only 10.00 (adults), 9.00 (seniors), 5.00 (children) you can see the cypress swamps (even take a boat ride), butterfly house, turtles, reptile house, walking trails, gardens and all the other many attractions of Cypress Gardens  plus ROSES! There will be roses from world class exhibitors as well as backyard enthusiast. If you are photographer, you can take a picture of anyone’s rose and even Photoshop it! Again for more information go to www.charlestonrose.com.

What a fun time of year in the garden. Lawn is going from brown to green (transition), trees are leafing out, and shrubs are putting on new growth. Mosquitoes are coming out hungry, fire ants are foraging, mole crickets are tunneling and mating, fleas are attacking the pet and aphids are attacking new growth on shrubs.

I always know when the new growth is coming out on the azaleas and camellias. At Possum’s we get flooded with questions about large deformed leaves on mainly sasanqua camellias and some azaleas. The old leaf gall has struck again.

Hopefully, you or your neighbors oak tree has done all the leave and tassel dropping it is going to do for another year and you can put out a fresh layer of mulch (be careful not to build up the mulch too thick) for the spring.

I’m seeing some beautiful containers and hanging baskets as I travel around the area. Try some Hydrostretch to help hold moisture in your pots, so you will not have to water so often and your plants will not wilt so quickly.

Carpenter Bees have been making many people’s life miserable with their buzzing around and drilling into wood weakening it and exposing it to the elements.

Palms and Sago palms are going to be pushing out new growth soon. Be sure you get a real palm fertilizer and not one that someone in marketing is calling a palm fertilizer (yes, it happens).

I have seen some scale in its crawler stage. This is a good time to control them.

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

Monday, April 6, 2015

They Are Back - Mole Crickets



Last November I wrote about mole crickets, and judging from the amount of damage to lawns I’m seeing, I need to write about them again. Between having 3 stores, regularly scouting around, and having a whole bunch of friends in the business of killing mole crickets, when they get bad, I hear about it. Right now, they are bad! With some products being removed from the market, we are getting more complaints about mole crickets.   

These guys definitely damage turf.  Their damage is not caused by them eating the roots of the plants, as many people think, but is actually caused by them tunneling near the surface and separating the roots from the soil.  When the roots are separated from the soil, the grass plant dries out and dies.  This tunneling can cause big problems when there is a drought. When the soil is dry, it separates quickly from the plants roots.  Regular rains, irrigation or rolling the ground with a sod roller, can help keep the plant alive by keeping the roots in contact with the soil. The spring is bad because the grass is still dormant and the damage might go undetected.

To control mole crickets, it is best to scout for them.  Get two ounces of lemony dish soap in five gallons of water and slowly pour it over a 2 x 2 area where you may think you have mole crickets.  The soap irritates their equivalent to our lungs, and brings them to the surface gasping for air. This will drive them to the surface and depending on how many surface, you can then decide whether to treat your yard or not.  A golf course green would have less tolerable amount than a home lawn. 

This time of year, mole crickets are in their adult stage and are mating and flying around. Often you will notice a little volcano with a hole in the center the size on a number 2 pencil. The male mole cricket uses this volcano to amplify his mating call. This is a good time to treat them because you will break up their life cycle before they produce new babies. 

Later, in June and July, if you use a soap flush again; you will see the baby mole crickets.  Baby mole crickets are easy to kill because they do not fly. Baby mole crickets look like little adults. 

In the fall, the small mole crickets will have grown into young adults, have wings, and will tunnel near the surface and fly around.  Depending on the amount of mole crickets in your yard, these are the three critical times to treat for them. 

Many control products are available to kill mole crickets.  Some work better depending on the stage of life of the mole cricket.   There are baits, parasitic nematodes, contact killers, granular products, spray products, etc.  When going after the baby mole cricket, always be sure to use a product that goes through the thatch layer and into the soil where the baby mole cricket resides.  Depending on your population of mole crickets, type of soil (they like sand – easier to tunnel), and amount of lights you have on your property that they attract to, the number of applications can vary greatly.



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