Monday, April 15, 2024

Have you?


                          Kill Weeds Competing with your Lawn and Making Seeds for Next Year

                                            Get your Roots Growing

Horticulture Hotline 04/15/2024

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Today’s article is not as much of a “to do list” as a “have you done it” list. The weekly rains have been great for knocking down the pollen and hydrating our landscapes. The windy, low humidity days has quickly dried out the landscape. Last year when we did not have the rain to go with the wind, some landscapes really suffered. Zoysia grass took the biggest hit, refusing to green up and come out of dormancy!


I have been asked some form of this question a lot recently. “Should I mow down lower than I usually mow (scalp) and or bag my clippings on the first cut of the year?”


Congratulations, you must be using a preemerge product for winter weeds or you would be mowing weeds! A lot of people will mow lower and collect the clippings to get rid of the "brown" in the grass. Not needed for good grass, just appearance. By mowing lower you remove the brown grass (your green grass from last fall), and your lawn will appear greener – basically you are removing the brown leaves from your grass like raking up leaves from your trees. If you did nothing different, the new leaf blades would come through the canopy and the brown leaves would decompose.


If you have a whole lot of brown grass that does not look like it is going to decompose in a reasonable amount of time, using a bagging mower may be a good option for the first cut. Get back to your mulching mower as soon as possible, so your grass benefits from the returned organic matter and nutrients.


If you have been waiting for the weather to warm up, here is a brief checklist of things that should have been completed around the yard:

  • Test soil. All the rain has leached out very valuable nutrients out of the soil. Trees, bushes, and grass remove nutrients from the soil as well. I was looking at soil tests a few years ago and I had 2 tests for palm trees that 2 different people had put out way, way, way too much Magnesium. Just because people say that palms like Epsom Salt which is Magnesium sulfate, take a soil test first. You might be wasting your money. Over fertilizing could be true throughout your landscape. Soil test provide valuable information for accurate fertilizing!
  • Have you applied SeaHume G to lawn and beds for a healthy start? Our warm season grasses (centipede, St. Augustine, zoysia, and Bermuda) slough off their roots this time of year, so it is good to apply products that promote rooting.
  • Have you applied a preemergent to lawn and beds (this late use Dimension if it is your first application)? Remember it is never too late to start a preemerge program. It is never too late to preemerge, with our mild climate weeds germinate almost every day of the year.
  • Have you drench Dominion around plants with a history of insect problems?
  • Have you applied a preventive fungicide to turf if you have a history of fungus (T-Methyl, Strobe)? We are seeing a lot more pictures of fungus at Possum’s than we saw last year.
  • Mole Crickets overwinter as adults and do their mating flights right now. Have you killed them now before they can make babies? Be sure your lawn and beds are free of fire ants, and if you have pets, fleas and ticks should be controlled. If you live near the woods, chiggers may be an issue.
  • Have you gone through your irrigation system to be sure everything is operating correctly? In my travels through the Lowcountry, I have noticed many broken heads and heads that are spraying into the street. These low humidity days will dry out your grass and plants quickly. Plants and grass are putting out new leaves and need water!
  • The little fury terrorist of the yard is having babies now. Have you killed a mole recently or at least repelled one out of your yard?
  • Is your lawn mower ready for another season? New Blade? New Air Filter? New Spark Plug?
  • Have you measured your turf and bed areas so you know how much product you need to buy and apply to your yard? Getting the right amount of product on your lawn will determine the success of your efforts.
  • Mosquitoes are biting. With the flooded areas, there are plenty of places for them to bred.
  • Feed your landscape now with all the new growth your landscape needs food. Without specific recommendations from a soil test, 17-00-09 is a great choice.
  • Even though some of your winter weeds (annual bluegrass, Poa annua being the most hated), depending on the weather, will die soon, kill them now, so they do not produce seeds that you will have to fight next year. With the cool night time temperatures we are having, these winter weeds could continue to seed for a while. Some of the chemistries work slowly; however, they will stop the plant from developing seeds very quickly!


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


Monday, April 8, 2024

TYo Prune or Not To Prune


                                                      Prune after bloom
                                              Organics - Cotton Burr Compost
                      Cotton Burr Make A Nice Mulch - Every Rain Compost Sweet Tea!!

Horticulture Hotline  04/08/24

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


With the night time temperatures still very cool now is a good time get organics and preemergent products out in your yard if you have not already. I was talking to one of our commercial customers yesterday who uses a lot of Cotton Burr Compost.  In our conversation, he mentioned that the yards he uses this product in are much fuller, lusher, and have less fungus than the yards that he treats with regular synthetic fertilizers and fungicides.   I think you will really see the benefits of using a combination of synthetic and organic products. 


Many plants can be pruned, sheared, or run over with the lawn mower this time of year.  Liriope, Monkey Grass, and Ophiopogon can be sheared or run over with the lawn mower (set on a high setting).  Cast-Iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Holly Fern can be sheared this time of year to get rid of any torn and ratty foliage.  This kind of pruning may seem brutal at first, but you will be rewarded with nice, young green foliage.  If you have any climbing fig, you can shear off any winter damage. 


Plants that flower on new wood are ok to prune now.  Oleanders, Mexican Heather, Lantana, roses (if you missed Valentine’s Day), and Crepe Myrtles are all good plants to prune at this time.  Prune crossing, dead, or diseased limbs on your Crepe Myrtles.  Cassia, Butterfly Bush, and Vitex can all get a bit wild without regular pruning.  These plants would be ok to shape up at this time.  You can also cut back your Pampas Grass.


Some plants that you want to avoid cutting back would include; Azaleas (if they have bloomed it is okay to prune), Gardenias, Indian Hawthorne (Raphiolepis), Hydrangea, and any other spring flowering shrub or tree.  Hydrangea bloom on old wood so if you cut off those dead sticks that you see in your yard now, you will be cutting off the blooms for this year.  Endless Summer is a newer variety of Hydrangea that blooms on new and old wood.


After your spring blooming plants flower, pull out the pruners, and prune away!  Camellias should also be pruned after they finish blooming in the spring time.  Having good air movement through and around a Camellia seems to lower the amount of scale. 


Remember to use sharp pruners and disinfect them with alcohol especially if you are pruning diseased plants. With the mowing season upon us, check your mower blade as well.


Take time out to enjoy the beautiful city we live in with a walk in our city, county, or state parks, downtown or out in one of the many gardens or public plantations in the area.


Monday, April 1, 2024

Leaf Gall


                                             Leaf Gall Azalea

                                            Leaf Gall Camellia

                                            Notice How Thick The Leaf Is

Horticulture Hotline 04/01/24

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


With the amount of rain we had in March, I am seeing leaf gall in big numbers. I heard we had more than five inches above the normal rainfall amount in March for a total of eight inches. Of course, rainfall in the Charleston area varies greatly depending on your location. Have you noticed an azalea or a camellia whose leaves are 2-3 times the normal size and are thick and fleshy?


They have leaf gall. Leaf gall is a very common disease that affects camellias and azaleas while they are putting on new leaves in the spring. This disease affects Camellia sasanqua (the small leaf camellia that blooms in the fall) more than Camellia japonica (the large leaf camellia that blooms in the winter).  The cool nights, overhead irrigation and rains in the early spring make this disease flourish.  This disease in camellias is caused by the fungus Exobasidium camelliae. Sometimes galls can be caused by insects or mites as well. There is another fungus, Exobasidium vaccinnii, that affects azaleas in a very similar way. 


Leaf gall is the common name for this fungus.  The leaves become very large and fleshy.  The new growth is much thicker than normal and then the leaves break apart and release spores.  When the leaf breaks apart, you can see the lower part of the leaf turns white.  The disease spreads by wind and splashing water. A good layer of mulch will help with the splashing water.


The best control for leaf gall is to pick the infected leaves off as soon as you see them in the spring.  If you can pull them off before the spores develop, you can prevent the disease from spreading.  Once you pull them off, place them in a plastic bag (the one your newspaper comes in is handy, a dog poop bag, or any other plastic bag you might have around the house) and throw them away in the garbage or burn them in the ever so popular backyard fire pit. 


Usually, this disease does not require chemical treatment.  The manual pulling off leaves and limiting overhead irrigation in the spring, when the nights are cool, will keep it in check.  If you have a severe problem year after year, you could apply Mancozeb at bud break (the new growth in the early spring).  This control should be your last resort, and only used in severe cases when a good percentage of your leaves are affected. Leaves are the food factory. 


For this year, pull off as many infected leaves as you can.  Soon your plants should go back to producing its normal size leaves.  The leaves that were affected by leaf gall will soon wither, turn brown and fall off the shrub.


Soil test taken to Possum’s (check), preemergent product on lawn and beds (check), SeaHume on lawn and beds (check), 17-00-09 in beds (check), Perk on lawn (check), Citrus Leafminer Pheromone Traps in citrus (check), irrigation gone through and adjustments made (check), Dominion drench on plants with history of insect pest (check), lawnmower serviced (check), Cutless growth regulator for shrubs I don’t want to trim (check), Intice Perimeter around outside of house for roaches and other uninvited guest (check), preventive fungicide on turf with all the rain (check), Pots and good potting soil for color (check)…


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