Monday, March 8, 2021

Take Care Of Those Plants Before They Leaf-Out


Horticulture Hotline 03/08/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Between hurricanes, long growing seasons, new trees planted from new construction and construction damage, many of the deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the fall) are either just starting to put on new leaves or still naked. The green weeds are easy to spot in the lawn or beds (yes, I get weeds too). Insect inventory, especially scale, is easy to evaluate at this time. Any sooty mold left behind from last year indicates other insects. Have you inspected your yard for mosquito breeding areas? I hate to ask this, but does anyone have moles?


Right now, before your deciduous trees put on new leaves, is an excellent time to take a close look at them. If your trees are larger, it is a great time to get a professional tree company in to look at them. Look for crossing and rubbing limbs or limbs that are growing towards the middle of the tree. Look for limbs that have died, damaged by ice or wind or just look unhealthy. By pruning these limbs now you can direct all the new leaves and growth to limbs you want to keep long term, and not waste the energy of the tree to put on new leaves that you are going to remove later.


Dr . Shigo (the main man as far as early tree knowledge goes) found that trees do 85% of their growing for the year by May, so it is very important to have fertilizer available to your trees at this time. Either hire a professional to soil inject your trees or use a granular. SeaHume granular along with 17-00-09 and a little cotton burr compost as a mulch will get the tree headed in the right direction. A soil test is always the best way to determine your soil’s needs.


When your tree is naked, vines growing up into the canopy are easy to spot along the trunk of the tree. Since the tree does not have any leaves, these vines are easier to remove than when the tree and vine have leaves. I pull these vines away from the tree, scrap off some bark and apply my “vine killer” to the open wound.


Weeds growing beneath the tree are easier to spot and deal with if you have a low branching deciduous tree. My fig tree has these big leaves, so once the leaves come out, it is very hard to spray a herbicide underneath the tree without hitting the fig tree’s leaves. Some herbicides volatize, so without leaves a tree is less likely to get damaged. Spray now before the flush of leaves.


If you have any Asiatic Jasmine or Ivy that has grown into areas you do not want it, right now, while it is putting on young tender growth, is going to be your best time to control it. Consider using a product like Brushmaster mixed with Roundup for these hard to kill vines. Once the new growth has hardened off, certain vines are very hard to control.


If you have been plagued by black sooty mold in the past, right now, apply Dominion Tree & Shrub as a drench to these plants to control the insects that produce the black sooty mold. Get it out now to protect the new foliage from insect attack. Insects like that young tender foliage like us (cabbage, spinach, lettuce).



I’m hearing the Weed & Feed commercial (some guy named Scott) playing on the radio, and I think most people in the Lowcountry know it is too early to fertilize with a fairly high nitrogen-based fertilizer. And spreading a root absorbed chemical for killing weeds across your lawn where roots of desirable trees and shrubs might be, is not the best idea either (their label does warn against this; however, it is difficult to tell where roots extend to). By the time you would want to fertilize, the weeds are usually dead or in their reproductive stage - making them very hard to kill and have already produced seeds for next year.


The cooler nights have given us a longer window for preemerge products. Get them out now for less hot, gnatty, summertime weeding and competition for your plants.


If you have a history of plants with leaf-spot diseases, hydrangea, Ligustrum (BD), tractor seat plants, Indian Hawthorne, roses … this is the time to spray them with a fungicide to protect that tender young growth.


Measure your lawn and bed areas so you are putting out the correct amount of product. In some cases, you might damage your plants (including the grass), and in other cases you might be breaking a Federal Law (think Cool Hand Luke).


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