Monday, August 19, 2019

That Nasty Orange Thing In My Mulch

Horticulture Hotline 08/19/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Hopefully, you have put out your preemerge for winter weeds by now in your beds and on your turf. On your home turf, you should be done with nitrogen fertilizer (watch out for national brand winterizer fertilizers designed for fescue sold in national chain stores in the area). Potash, iron and other minor nutrient products can (and should) be used into the fall. A soil test should help you with any rates to apply.

Some 17-00-09 (slow release and loaded with minors) or 08-02-04 (organic) would be great for your trees and shrubs this time of year. Put them to bed with a full belly. 

The rainy weather has raised the gray leaf spot levels to all-time highs. For tips to control this disease with cultural practices (making control products less needed) go to and look under the ‘Horticulture Hotline’ tab for an article I wrote in early July. Until then apply Fame!

Stinkhorn fungi (devil’s backbone) has been smelling up new mulch beds all over the Lowcountry.  The conditions have been perfect for the growth of this fungus with all this rain. This fungus has an awful nasty odor that smells like rotten flesh.

Some plants in nature attract insects with sweet smelling nectar to spread pollen to other plants.  This fungus; however, exudes a slime over part of its fruiting body (the mushroom) attracting flies that like rotten flesh or feces.  The flies then spread the fungus because spores attach to their bodies.  Nice! You have a mushroom that exudes a smell like rotten flesh and feces to attract flies.  I guess this is the opposite approach of a gardenia. 

The way I control stinkhorn is with a plastic bag like picking up dog poop.  Put a bag on your hand, lift up the mushroom pull the plastic bag over the mushroom and try not to drop too many spores.  These mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungus that is beneath the soil.  The orange fruiting body is attached to hyphae that are underneath the ground decomposing organic matter.  In nature, most fungi are good for your soil; however, this can be an unwelcome guest in your yard because of the dumpster smell.  Fungi, in general, tend to like acidic soil as do most plants, so I wouldn’t try to control them by adjusting the pH.  Hopefully, the environmental conditions that cause them to pop up all over the place will go away soon. 

There is something that looks like an egg that the mushroom pops out of that some people (mainly in Asia) consider a delicacy.  No thank you, I’m not interested in something that smells like rotten flesh or feces.

With fall arriving, look for mole crickets tunneling near the surface. Mole crickets do a lot of damage in the fall that often goes undetected because the grass is going dormant (brown) anyway, leaving big dead areas in the spring.

Fire ants are very active with all the rain. Bait products a very inexpensive if you use them properly. The better new baits (Extinguish Plus) are formulated with growth regulators and can give you long term control.  

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