Monday, July 26, 2010

The Preparation and Transplanting of Trees and Shrubs


On WTMA last Saturday you provided information on removal of a Red Japanese Maple for transplant. Please provide the information to me because I did not hear all the details. Thanks in advance.

Here are my guidelines for transplanting plants or trees:

· Decide the size of you root ball. For every inch in tree trunk diameter you want a foot of root ball. So if your tree is three inches in diameter your root ball should go in a circle one and a half feet from the trunk of the tree. You could tie a string around the tree leaving eighteen inches of string – then draw a line walking around the tree measuring with this string. Root balls can be very heavy so consider a hiring a professional. Be prepared to pay top dollar to move a plant because moving plants requires much more work then planting them out of containers. If your plants are way too crowded, get as much root ball as possible, and if they are so crowded that you cannot even get in there to work, you may have to sacrifice a few plants, so you do not kill them all. Always take as large a ball as possible.
· Spray the plant you are going to move with an anti-transpirant (Cloud Cover, Wilt Proof, or Transfilm). These products will hold moisture in leaves and stems.
· Drench the ground with BioRush and Super Thrive. These are biostimulant products that encourage rooting. Transplant One Step (contains a friendly fungus inoculum) should also be added to increase the surface absorbing area of root systems. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.
· Root prune the plant. Go to the area that you determined your ball to go out to and push a shovel straight down – do not pry on the shovel – just cut the roots. Repeat this root pruning all the way around the plant. If the plant has been in the ground a long time, you may have to skip a shovel width each time you root prune to lessen the shock. Apply SeaHume granular (Humic acid and Seaweed biostimulants) to decrease stress. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.
· Keep an eye on the plant for the next month. Be sure to water it as needed. When watering the soil, spray a fine mist on the foliage of the plant. Since the roots have just been severed, this will help the plant absorb the water through the foliage and water the roots as well.
· After thirty days or if you could wait until a cooler time (November, December), dig away from the plant in the area that you root pruned. Resist the temptation to pry up on the plant. You should have a ball in a mote when you are finished.
· Water the ball so the soil will stick to the roots.
· Severe the ball from the area underneath the plant.
· Always handle the root ball – do not grab the plant by its trunk.
· Move the plant onto a tarp or some burlap.
· Be sure when you move the plant to its new home, you plant it at or above existing grade. Plants buried too deep are the biggest problem I see in landscapes. A plant that is planted too deep is starved for oxygen which affects many other plant processes (ability to absorb nutrients or causes root rot).
· Be sure not to pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree or shrub as this will also kill the plant over a period of time. Consider using Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend as a mulch to get the nutrition associated with these products.
· Spray the leaves and stems with anti-transpirant.
· Use Transplant One Step with the back fill. Transplant One Step contains friendly fungal spores as well as kelp, poultry manure, vitamins B, C & E, myo-inositol, a wetting agent and amino acids. Spray foliage with BioRush as it is a special blend of natural organic ingredients designed to help transplant survival.
· Apply the right amount of water. Be sure to spray the foliage.
· Apply the right amount of Cotton Burr Compost or Natures Blend mulch.
· Apply granular SeaHume after you have moved the plant to encourage new root growth.
· Good Luck!

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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bermuda in St. Augustine

Bill, They can send a man to the moon but I have been told there is not a way to kill common bermuda grass growing in St. Augustine grass. Is this true? I was told the only way I could get rid of the bermuda grass was to pull it up and because the bermuda grass has rhizomes that this was not a sure thing. Please help. Thanks!

Unfortunately, this is a truth that haunts many of Lowcountry gardeners and gardeners throughout the area where St. Augustine grass is grown. Bermudagrass is flat out hard to kill, and if you do not kill it all, bermudagrass will quickly re-grow. With the deep runners, pulling it would be a waste of time.

In the old days there was a product called Asulox that had a label for killing common bermudagrass out of St. Augustine grass. The treatment involved several applications at certain intervals; however, their label does not make that claim anymore and is labeled for Sod Farms only.

I was a consultant for the government on one job that we tried Asulox, and after multiple applications, I can see why the manufacturer removed common bermudagrass from the label. The herbicide would knock the bermuda back some then the bermuda would be back with a vengeance.

The only way I recommend getting rid of bermudagrass in St. Augustine grass now is to kill them both with a slow acting Roundup or glyphosate product. Stay away from the new quick killing products and use the old slow killing formulations. This application is going to kill your St. Augustine grass too. Plan to spray several times over a few months to get all the bermudagrass. Be patient! Killing bermudagrass is not an easy task or a fast task. If you have a professional do the work, allow him or her plenty of time to do it right; otherwise, in a very short period of time, your grass will be invaded by bermudagrass once again.

On another St. Augustine grass note, chinch bugs are out in full force. I saw a yard yesterday that had a patch of crabgrass and the chinch bugs had sucked the life out of all the St. Augustine grass in the yard around this one patch of crabgrass. It was really too bad because this is normally a beautiful St. Augustine grass lawn.

On Saturday, we had a few calls on the radio about lawn shrimp.

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

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mealybugs on Sweetgrass

Question: Bill, I have a white, sticky, fuzzy fungus on my Sweetgrass plant. What can I do? I am retired now and my wife expects me to help her keep a nice yard when I’m not fishing or emailing my friends.

Answer: Congratulations on your retirement! Good luck with your fishing!

Your Sweetgrass plant most likely has a soft body, sucking bug called a mealy bug attacking it. Mealybugs are like aphids, scale, white flies, the “nasty rascal, the chinch bug”, lace bug and other sucking bugs in that they suck plant juices or sap from the host plant.

I was surprised when I first saw mealybugs on Sweetgrass. I usually associate mealybugs with plants grown inside buildings, homes (interior plantscapes) or greenhouses. I usually think of ornamental grasses as being pest free – wrong!

As with any sucking bug, you want to get the situation under control fast, or you will have the secondary problem that looks way worse than the fuzzy, airy mealybugs. The secondary problem is the dreaded sooty mold.

Sooty mold is the black mold that grows on the excrement (poop) of certain sucking bugs. Have you ever seen a black gardenia (from white fly poop) or crepe myrtle (from aphid poop)? Certain insects have a very short digestive track and they are drinking sap from a plant that is pressurized. The sap goes in their mouth and out their behind very rapidly covering the plant with a sugary substance (often called honey dew) that this mold grows.

In human terms, if you could connect your mouth to, let’s say, a keg of beer or maybe a soft serve ice cream machine at some point the beer or ice cream would be coming out of somewhere (nose, ears, …) leaving a mess. Insects have hardly any digestive tract to slow things down.

A very effective way to control these mealybugs, while not hurting the beneficial insects, is to use an insecticidal soap. Also drench the area around the Sweetgrass with Dominion.
Dominion is a long term systemic insecticide that will free you up for more time fishing.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.
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Monday, July 5, 2010

July - Things to watch out for

Things to Watch Out For in July:

Many people are hyper-allergic to fire ant stings. Several people each year die from fire ant bites as well as many more end up in the hospital. Bait products are best used over your entire yard (beds and lawn areas) and are very inexpensive. Over N Out, although not a bait product, is very effective over a long period of time and should be spread over the entire yard. Other broad spectrum products like Tirade and Lebanon Insect Control will kill fire ants and other pests like the “nasty rascal, the chinch bug”. Landscape & Garden Insecticide (contains Spinosad a synthetic organic) is very good at killing fire ants as well as some other insects.

The “nasty rascal, the chinch bug”, has been bad all spring. I recently talked to a lady who just returned from her summer family vacation to the mountains. She had lost about 70% of her yard to the “nasty rascal, the chinch bug”, in just a seven day period. Products containing Bifen or Lebanon Insect Control will control “nasty rascal, the chinch bug”, fleas, and fire ants.

Fleas have been particularly bad this year as well. The fleas that attack our dogs are actually known as cat fleas! Fleas reproduce at a very rapid rate. A female flea averages 1350 eggs laid in the first 50 days of landing on a host. This is why it is so important to use a growth regulator like Nylar or Precor to control these pests. Nylar is more photo-stable and does not break down in the sunlight like Precor does. This means that you can use it outside as well as inside. Most dogs like to sit in front of a window and watch for squirrels and other invaders in the yard. Using Precor in a place like this will not be as effective as using Ultracide which contains Nylar. Nylar also acts as a growth regulator for roaches. Diatomaceous earth is an organic option.

Gray leaf spot fungus has been attacking St. Augustine grass. The recent afternoon thunderstorms have created a perfect environment for this disease to flourish. This disease likes hot and humid weather, so turn off your irrigation system, mow your St. Augustine lower than normal (2 ½ - 3 inches), mow your grass more often every 3-5 days and pick up your clippings. These cultural practices will help manage the disease by drying off the grass; however, if you need to use a control product, Honor Guard is a great liquid product and Prophesy is a good granular product to use.

Army worms will usually start munching on our grass about mid-July. This worm seems to like Bermuda grass the most; however, they will sometimes attack other grass. Sod webworms that munch on our St. Augustine and Centipede grass usually attack a little later in the year.

Wasps and other stinging insects seem to be out in full force (“The Hose Murderer” got stung Saturday – karma?). Although it can be entertaining to blast them out of the air from 20 feet with Wasp Freeze, you will have much better success if you can locate their nest, wait until late in the afternoon when they all come home, then treat with Delta Dust or some other control product and nail them all at one time.

Always read, understand, and follow product label or hire a professional.