Monday, November 23, 2020

Color in the Lowcounrty and that Rampant Disease


Horticulture Hotline 11/23/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


The Lowcountry – what a beautiful place! We have a different fall color than many areas of the country, and the wonderful fragrance of Tea Olives as a bonus. Our fall color is not limited by the color of falling leaves. Our fall color comes in the form of berries, fruit, bark, grasses, foliage, and flowers. There is one not so pleasant color showing up in our turfgrass that needs to be addressed.


Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch are still very much an issue on our warm season grasses. Diseases need a susceptible host (your grass), the disease present (Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch is in the soil), and the correct environmental conditions (temperature, moisture). These three parameters are often called the ‘Disease Triangle.’ The environmental conditions part of this triangle has been off the chart this year. The weather that has been perfect for us to be outside has been perfect for the disease to flourish.


I like to look at the ‘disease triangle’ as a three-legged stool. If you can take away one leg, the disease / stool will fall. Your grass is not something you want to remove; however, you can keep it healthy (proper fertilization via soil testing, proper mowing height, healthy soil, manage low areas that collect water and thatch free.)


The environment is very difficult to control. Managing your watering would be the only easy thing to do with this leg of the stool. Temperature and rainfall are a little more difficult to control.


The disease in this case is pretty hard to deal with because it is in the soil. We (Possum’s) get reports from customers that using SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost lowers the disease pressure in their lawn. In this case the good fungi are competing with the bad fungi. Fungicides are also work. When the weather conditions stay so perfect for the disease, multiple applications are required.


I don’t like writing about something that I just wrote about 2 weeks ago (go to and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab for the 11/09/20 article), but this disease is running rampant!


The warm weather has lent itself to some nice color options in the Lowcountry. Many of my plants are blooming - Cassia is a bright yellow, Hibiscus (two colors), Bottlebrush (red), Lantana (multi), Milkweed (multi), Burford Holly Berries (red), Yaupon Hollies (iridescent red), Sasanqua Camellias (white) and Camellia Japonica (red and white). I also have brown backed Magnolia leaves that with the Camellias and the lemons off my lemon tree make a nice Thanksgiving arrangement. The warm weather has kept my Tea Olives smelling great!


My friend across the street has persimmon trees that have this cool red / orange fruit. The fruit appears after the leaves fall and from a distant look like plastic ornaments on the tree. They are tasty as well! I also saw some Pyracantha the other day. Beautiful berries but do have thorns. When I grew up people planted them and you learned quickly to stay away. Nowadays people probably just plant something else. Sweetgrass and ryegrass are jamming.


If you are planting pansies or snapdragons, be aware that these warm temperatures might make these plants more susceptible to disease. T-Methyl or Strobe should help you.


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