Monday, April 25, 2011

Leaf Gall on Azaleas and Camellias

Last week I wrote about leaf gall on Camellias and azaleas, and those comments led to several more questions. Leaf gall is a very common disease that affects camellias. 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 is caused by the fungus Exobasidium camelliae. There is another Exobasidium fungus 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 of 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. This control should be your last resort, and only used in severe cases.

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.

Fleas, large patch fungus in turf, stinkhorn fungi (devil’s backbone) in mulch, and slow to green up areas in the grass seem to be dominating the questions that I have been getting recently. Oh yeah, how to get rid of moles!

Charleston Horticultural Society’s Plantasia is coming up Friday (the 29th) and Saturday (the 30th), check their website for more details. The Rose Society’s Rose Show is coming to Citadel Mall Saturday May 7th from 1pm until 5pm. These roses will blow your mind. Exhibit your roses or just look at the displays. I’ll have to shock my teenage daughters with the first time ever question, “hey squirrels, want to go to the mall?”

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Few Spring Pests

Everything is coming to life. The beauty of the Spring season has arrived. I’m going to write about some of the less desirable pests that come along with Spring this morning. These pests may be insects, fungi, or other situations in or around the landscape.

I also wanted to thank everyone that came out and met with Dr. Tee Senn. He is quite an amazing man at 93 and still very passionate about seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) and humates. I hope those of you who heard him on the ”Garden Clinic” enjoyed his wit and knowledge as well.

The Nasty Rascal, the chinch bug is already sucking the juices out of St. Augustine grass (Charleston grass) across the Lowcountry. Chinch bugs were super bad last year, and, as I write, they are damaging grass this year. When the weather is dry, a beneficial fungus that keeps The Nasty Rascal in check dies, and the chinch bug populations explode. That is why chinch bugs effect the hottest, driest part of the yard, and you rarely see them in the shady areas. Sevin granular, Tirade, EcoPCO WP.X (organic) or Aloft should give you some relief.

With the cool nights, Powdery Mildew fungus has nailed our Crepe Myrtles, Roses, Dogwoods and other plants. I have seen it on “resistant” Crepe Myrtles that usually do not get Powdery Mildew. Of course resistant does not mean that a plant will 100% not get it. Powdery Mildew is very easy to recognize on a Crepe Myrtle. Just look right at the tips on the new growth, and you will see what looks like powdered sugar on the foliage. Neem Oil (organic), Honor Guard, Kestrel, and Systemic Fungicide (Fertilome) will help control this pest. Crepe Myrtles bloom on new growth, so it is very important to control this disease now.

Termite swarms have been spotted in the area. In a stump 100 feet from you house, most likely not a problem. Call the pest control company that has the bond on your house, so a professional can take a look.

Gnats, oh yeah, they come out whenever the weather is perfect. Mosquito Repelling Granular (the product formally known as Gnat Scat) and Liquid Net are both organic products that should help you enjoy the outdoors a little more. Bifen, Cyonora, and Cyzmic should help with gnats and other insect pests.

Leaf Gall on Sasanqua Camellias and Azaleas are effecting the new growth. At this point in time, just remove them carefully so the spores do not spread everywhere and destroy them. The old books would say burn the infected leaves, now days the trash can would do fine.

So much to write about, so few column inches… Charleston Horticultural Society’s Plantasia is coming up Friday (the 29th) and Saturday (the 30th), check their website for more details. The Rose Society’s Rose Show is coming to Citadel Mall Saturday May 7th from 1pm until 5pm. These roses will blow your mind. Exhibit or just look at the displays.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dr.T. L. Senn Comes for a Visit

Dr. T. L. Senn is coming to the Lowcountry this Saturday, April 16, 2011. Dr. Senn will be at Possum’s East, 481 Long Point Rd, Mt. Pleasant from 10:30 until 11:30. After the hour at the store, he will be my guest on the radio from noon until 1 on WTMA 1250 AM.

Dr. Senn is one of the leading seaweed researchers in the World. He has studied seaweed all over the World for agricultural uses as well as medical uses. He is the pioneer of seaweed research. Seaweed is now used in ice cream, beer, soaps, medicines, the treatment of cancer (Tee lost 3 of his immediate family members to cancer), and many other agricultural and non- agricultural uses.

Dr. Senn also has studied humates throughout the World to try to find the best source of humic acid. He went all over including China, Russia and even to Iran where the Garden of Eden was believed to be located. After all his searching, he found the best humates right here in North America.

Dr. Tee Senn was Head of the Horticulture Department at Clemson University for over 20 years, authored several books and research papers, won many awards including Elk of the Year for S.C., and is credited in every article I have ever read about seaweed. His research is responsible for the SeaHume products many of you use.

At 93 years old he still attends Clemson football games, speaks at trade shows, loves to talk about seaweed and humates, and even has some time for a young (?) horticulturalist like myself.

Whether you are an old student, or interested in organic products, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to meet a living legend.

Just last week I was writing about where to get information about landscaping in the Lowcountry, and I forgot to write that the “Horticulture Hotline” is a great place for local, timely information for situations that arrive in the Lowcountry. Last week I wrote, “I’m sure I left out some areas of information that I’m involved with.” Duh, the amount of torn out newspaper articles I have seen over the past 20 years and the amount of landscapers that tell they use this article as a training tool, I should have certainly include the “Horticulture Hotline”.

Even if the article has no horticultural value, the best comment I have ever heard about the article was from a soldier fighting in Afghanistan. The soldier gets the article emailed to him weekly from our North Charleston store. The soldier told our store manager, Andy, he loves getting the article because for the few minutes it takes him to read the article, he drifts back to his yard in the Lowcountry. For me, it does not get any better than that.

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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Horticulture Information

The Lowcountry has many opportunities to learn about plants and horticulture for the new transplant to the area or the veteran gardener. Andy Weber (General Manager of Possum’s North) and I were giving a talk to a civic club last week, and right from the beginning of the talk a lady that had just moved to the area began asking questions.

They were good questions. She wanted basic information, but very important information like how can I find out what plants I have in my yard. How do I find out what grass I have? How do I take a soil test for the grass and for the beds? Many of the questions, Andy and I answered on the spot; however, for her plant identification questions, we suggested she bring them by Andy’s store and get tapped into his 30 years of professional horticulture knowledge.

I also mentioned a small piece of all the information available to her in the Lowcountry. Clemson Extension had just had several seminars at the fairgrounds. Clemson Extension and University have on line information. She lived near Trident Technical College that offers classes in Horticulture and has an arboretum to stroll through for ideas. I mentioned the Charleston Horticulture Society and the lecture series and workshops we have.

The Rose Society, Camellia Society, Native Plant Society, and the Daylily Society all have informative lectures, shows, and / or field trips. If you like water gardening, the Charleston Showa Koi Club has a very knowledgeable membership that will be glad to help you. Ask for Koi Jim. He is kind of scaly, but knows his stuff!

Garden Clubs are a great source of information. Not as specific as the ones mention above, but usually include your neighbors.

Walking tours of homes and gardens are always a great ways to pick up a few tips. These tours are getting cranked up now, so get your tickets.

The Post & Courier has a Garden Calendar in the Home & Garden section of the Sunday paper that will let you know about some of the events coming up. Tony Bertauski, horticulture instructor at Trident Technical College, has a very informative column in this section.

The public gardens (Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall, and Boone Hall Plantation) offer walking tours and / or seminars.

At Possum’s we have many workshops and seminars throughout the year as do many other garden centers and nurseries.

Paul Mulkey of The Tree Clinic and I also do a call-in radio show Saturdays from noon until one on WTMA.

There are trade shows and seminars throughout the state that are designed more with the professional in mind that a homeowner could attend and certainly learn something.

Professional landscapers, lawn care operators, tree care specialist and landscape architects can be of great help. These professionals can walk through your yard and give you specific recommendations.

So, whether you are a new member to the Lowcountry or old member with more time to focus on gardening, there is plenty of information out there for you. I’m sure I left out some areas of information that I’m involved with.

As the grass is ‘greening up’ watch out for large patch fungus. We are getting some rain, so be careful not to overwater. A good systemic fungicide like Cleary’s 3336 should help you though the transition.

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