Monday, November 21, 2022

The Holidays Are Coming

                                                        Early Trip By The Jack in the Box


Horticulture Hotline 11/21/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Another year has almost gone by. What a year! Covid ((still? really?), Ian, Nicole, lots of high tides, mosquitoes, strange rain (or lack of rain) patterns, and moles. With the dry spring very little brown patch – a nice change! Shortages of products? Umm…


This week I started seeing tents going up in parking lots and people wearing Christmas Hats, so I figured it was time for the yearly Christmas tree article.  


I’m looking forward to my trip through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. For the last 19 years (several times each year) I went through the display (700 displays and over 2 million lights) with my pound hound Ol’Boy. He loved the lights and walking around Santa’s Village. Ol’Boy also loved going to James Island County Park’s dog park as well. The light show is in its 33rd year. Before Ol’Boy it was my other ‘best friend’ Brown Dog that enjoyed the lights. OK, I would occasionally take some humans, but I swear the dogs liked it the best! If you’re a kid, does Christmas still seems like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me! 


I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree article out, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas Tree Farm, find a local source for a cut tree, or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays, if you were so inclined.


After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree.  If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like an independently owned garden center.  If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Rotary Club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper or another local organization.  Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.


There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these Covid days.


Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year.  They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines.  The parking is free and plentiful this time of year. Pot’s anyone?


Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb. Leyland Cypress have been removed from this list due to their disease issues.


Local tree farms are also an option. A ride in the country is always a good family event (young children, “how much longer will it take to get there?”).  Lebanon Christmas Tree Farm in Ridgeville and Toogoodoo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are some local tree farms.  Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself. 


If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off of the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb after the holidays.  Once you bring the tree home, cut an inch off of the bottom of the tree, and place the tree in a five-gallon bucket of water.  While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the leaves at a minimum. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house. 


Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace.  A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day.  Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors.  If you can, fill (2) one-gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water.  Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.  


There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh.  Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut at all times is the most important thing you can do for the tree.  The water conducting vessels quickly close up if the tree does not have constant water.  Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7-up and an aspirin in the water. You might want to save the aspirin if you drink Uncle Joe’s egg nogg, soaked cherries or Holiday Punch.  


Thank you for shopping at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply and for all of your letters, questions, comments when I meet you, and for reading “The Horticulture Hotline”! Make it a Great and Safe Holiday Season!


                                                      I can't have Smores or Hot Chocolate but a Doggy Treat?

Monday, November 14, 2022

Roaches - and a little Extra


Horticulture Hotline 11/14/22

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


When I went outside yesterday and it wasn’t raining, the first thing that grabbed my attention were all the birds singing. I don’t know how they do it in Washington state. We are finally getting some fall weather. Seems like winter weather!


With people getting their preemergent weed control out, I have been asked this question several times: does preemergent weed control get washed away or does it need to be re-applied because all the rain - Big No.


Preemergent products are broken down by microorganisms - it does not leach through the soil (like fast release nitrogen or potassium). Its control will be affected if sitting in a big puddle of water for an extended period. You shouldn't have to re-apply unless your yard stays underwater for a long time. If that is the case, you should work on your drainage.


Although this is the Horticulture Hotline, I decided to write about entomology (insects) today. Instead of the Horticulture Hotline, I’ll call it the Entomology Swat Line. With the cooler, rainy weather, the old cockroach has found its way into many Lowcountry homes.  Contact your pest management company if you have a contract or consider getting on a contract or if you do not like dealing with cockroaches.  If you are a die hard do-it-yourselfer, here are a few tips that will make your battle a little more effective. 


Treat your outside perimeter. A band about three feet from your house generally in the mulch is a good place to start. A granular product like Bug Blaster or Wisdom sand in the mulch beds surrounding your house will help kill the roaches before they get inside your house. A NOP (National Organics Program) organic product that is very effective is InTice Perimeter Bait. Using a spray around windows, doors, garage entry, and any other entry point to your house will also keep them from entering your house. EcoVia is a NOP product you can use around the outside and inside of your house.   


Underneath your house, consider dusting with a boric acid product. BorActin is a NOP product labeled for this or you could use the InTice Perimeter Bait. These products will last a long time in the crawl space of your house because they are away from sunlight and moisture (hopefully no moisture). 


In your house, consider using InVict Gold Cockroach Gel. InVict Gold is a fast-acting bait that has our customers at Possum’s singing its praises. The bait products are great because they move throughout the roach population.  Maxforce Gel capitalize on roaches’ nasty habits needed to survive, making these products very effective.  An immature roach has to eat the fecal pellets of the adult roach in order to mature into an adult roach.  Roaches also cannibalize each other.  By using this bait, you get a domino effect by the little roaches eating the fecal pellets of an adult that has consumed the bait.  When one roach dies from the bait, then another eats the dead roach, it will also die.  In wall voids you can also use InTice Perimeter Bait.



There are many good aerosols that come with a long straw that are designed to be sprayed in cracks and crevices.  Now there is a good selection of “green” aerosols to choose from along with the old standbys. If you treat the outdoors and use a gel inside, an aerosol application probably will not be necessary.   


Definitely consider using a growth regulator to help lengthen your control of the roaches.  Generally, growth regulators are very safe to humans (they work on things that insects have and humans do not have), if applied properly, and some will also help with fleas (Nylar). Growth regulators will keep roaches or fleas from reproducing; therefore, breaking up their life cycle. Fleas like damp moist areas, so they flourished this fall. 


Knowing where to put these products is crucial for the success.  Always read, understand and follow the product label.  There are also many pest control companies that are well established in this area and are very capable of taking care of any of your uninvited guests. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, this article should help and the products suggested should work well.


Monday, November 7, 2022

Mole Crickets Anyone?


Horticulture Hotline 11/07/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


I guess the mole crickets didn’t drown during Ian. Between having 3 stores (Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply), 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 grass 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 little rainfall like we are having now. When the soil is dry, it separates quickly from the plant’s 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.


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 bring them to the surface (and other creatures) and depending on how many come to the surface, you can then decide whether to treat your yard or not.  A golf course green because of putting would have less tolerable amount than a home lawn. 


This time of year, mole crickets are in their adolescent and adult stage. Now they are tunneling near the surface and flying with our warm fall weather. In late March early April mole crickets will be mating and flying. 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. You might also see some adults that are getting ready to die. 


In the fall, the small mole crickets will have grown into young adults, have wings, and will tunnel near the surface and fly around. In the fall and winter these young mole crickets do a lot of damage. The grass is going dormant so the damage is harder to see, people tend to cut back on their irrigation, and we have low humidity, windy days. 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 number of lights you have on your property that they attract to, the number of applications can vary greatly. Mole Crickets tend to inhabit the same area of a landscape year after year (usually because of lights or soil type), so with good mapping, you can concentrate your efforts in these areas and save money by using less product.


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