Thursday, August 29, 2013

Somethings to do in Late August

For the new readers of the Horticulture Hotline, my To Do Lists are designed to help you target a few activities in your yard and in your home that will benefit you in the future.  These lists are not designed to interfere with high school, college, or professional football games, sunset boating, shopping, shrimping, fishing, hunting, golfing, eating chicken wings at a local sports bar, oyster roasts, collecting oysters or clams from the local waters, or watching NASCAR on the couch with closed eyes!  This is not designed to be a “honey do” list.

Apply a preemergent herbicide to your lawn and beds NOW. Get the weeds before they germinate. Why wait? “Get er done!” Stop the weeds now and you will have more time for the activities in the first paragraph.

Planning to transplant plants in the fall? Begin root pruning now. Go out 12 inches for every inch in diameter of the tree and push the shovel straight down. Do not pry with the shovel, just severe the roots. Root pruning now will help the survival rate of the plant when you do decide to move it.

Look out for moths flying around and sod webworms munching on your grass. The fall is when these little chow hounds show up. 2012 was the worst breakout I have ever seen, so you are probably familiar with the little beast. The moths fly in a zig zag pattern across the lawn laying eggs. The worm (larva) emerges from the egg and eats up the grass. The damage looks like someone mowed the lawn very low with dull blades at a slow speed. You can see their bite marks on the grass blades.


Many of you will be changing out annual color or your vegetable garden in the next few weeks. While the beds are empty, you have to chance to amend your soil for better flower and vegetable production and address any drainage problems. If the bed stays wet, this is a good time to raise it with the addition of soil or amendments (Turface, Mule Mix). You can also crown the bed so it drains off to the sides.

Back To Natures’ Flower Bed Amendment has proven to do a superb job in our Lowcountry soils. The special blend of composted cotton burrs, composted cattle manure, feather meal, cottonseed meal, and alfalfa meal has the best of gardeners coming back for more. Alfalfa contains Triacantanol, a natural growth enhancer, and is high in organic Nitrogen to get your plants growing. Flower Bed amendment may also help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.

Here is what Dr. Herman Daniell had to say about his experience with the product, “The cotton burr flower bed mulch with amendments has been a superior product for my rose garden. I have had healthier bushes with more blooms since I began using this product.”

Many of you will also be changing out containers, hanging baskets and potted plants. If your plants are in an exposed place requiring daily watering, consider adding Soil Moist, Hydrostretch or other water holding gels to your soil. These gels and the use of a wetting agent can make your life much easier. If you go away for the weekend, your plants will hardly miss you.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Preemergent Time is Here Again

The time has come! Stop the ‘Weed Apocalypse’ now! Many terrorist of different genus and species are prepared to attack you where you live! Prepare to fight! Stop the spread of the obnoxious weed species now before it is too late! Weeds cause disease and mayhem! Weed jihad against your yard and flower beds!

What you are targeting now are small seeded winter annual weeds.  These are weeds that germinate from seeds late summer, grow into plants during the winter, then flower and produce seed for the following year in early spring.  The seeds lay dormant over the summer, and then germinate late summer to begin another life cycle. 

Some examples of the most common winter annual weeds are annual bluegrass (Poa annua), chickweed, Carolina geranium, and Henbit.  The weed that we get the most complaints about is annual bluegrass.  It is the grassy weed with the white seed head in late March, early April.  If you control your winter weeds now with a preemergent herbicide, you usually will not have to mow your grass until later.  All of these weeds are very visible in a brown dormant grass. These weeds also compete with your existing turf when it tries to come out of dormancy in April. 

A couple of weeds that are not annual weeds that are visible at the same time are Dollar weed and Florida Betony (rattlesnake or artichoke weed).  These weeds require different control methods since they are not coming up from seed.

Many customers of ours at Possum’s have reported a drastic reduction in Florida Betony by using the higher rate of Dimension right now. I have done research for the manufacturer (Dow AgroSciences) and have shown great results in all my test plots.  Technically, since Dow did not pay the EPA the money to add this application to the label because this weed is not significant enough in their eyes to recoup the money paid to the EPA, I cannot recommend this application. If you have Florida Betony and are going to use a preemergent product for annual bluegrass, you might want to give a product containing Dimension a try.

Dimension comes in many strengths, so be sure you purchase the correct one. We see many national companies selling the lower active ingredient product (0.10%, 0.13%, and 0.15%) and not advising the customer about the higher use rates required in the Coastal South for this product.

Preemergent products do what their name implies.  These products kill the weeds seed before it can emerge from the ground.  By killing the weed before it emerges from the ground, you are making your life a lot easier.  Killing weeds after they emerge (post-emergent) is much harder on you and your grass. 

Be careful to read and follow product labels so that you do not over-apply products.  Since a lot of people put out preemergent products as a granular, be careful not to overlap too much or you can damage your turf. 

Now is the time to put out preemergent products (two weeks before the soil temperatures are ready for winter weeds to germinate).  Various fertilizers such as; 16-00-08, 15-00-15, 00-00-07and 23-00-08 combined with preemergent will give your lawn and shrubs (don’t forget the shrubs!) one last feeding of nitrogen for the year while controlling the weeds.  Usually you will want to come back with another preemergent in 6-10 weeks depending on the products you use and the weather conditions. 

Mosquito invasion! Don’t get me started….

Friday, August 16, 2013

Indian Hawthorn - Leaf Spot

With all the rain we have had the Indian Hawthorn, Raphs or Raphiolepis have been really suffering. Raphs have been plagued with leaf spot for years; however, this wet year has taken its toll on them.  It seems like right after the Red Tips (Photinia) were virtually wiped out by Entomosporium leaf spot, the diseased began attacking the Indian Hawthorn.  Indian Hawthorn and Red Tips are in the same plant family as roses (Rosaceae). 

When dealing with a plant that is very susceptible to a leaf spot disease I like to think of several different factors:
1.      Is this plant worth keeping in the landscape or should I replace it with another plant that is not susceptible to disease.
2.      Is this plant worth spraying ever 14 – 28 days to keep it in my landscape?  To keep an Indian Hawthorn alive, it needs a life-support system.  The plant must be sprayed at least monthly or it will get leaf spot again.
3.      What cultural practices can I do to help relieve the pressure of the disease?  The removal of fallen foliage (sanitation) is key when dealing with a leaf spot disease.  Having a healthy soil, as determined by a soil test, is also very important because a stressed plant is more susceptible to disease.  Providing the correct amount of water preferably through a drip system, so the plants are not over-watered or drought stressed.  Proper fertility as determined by the soil test is also important.  Use nitrogen fertilizer very sparingly in small amounts because flushes of new growth are more susceptible to leaf spot.  Choose “resistant” varieties such as “Olivia”.    This does not mean that this plant will never get this disease; it is just more resistant to the disease. Mulch like Cotton Burr Compost will help prevent splashes of water drops that could spread the disease.  Also this mulch will lower the watering needs of the plants. Bioscience products like KeyPlex should be considered. KeyPlex will thicken the cuticle of the leaf making more resistant to the disease as well as more drought resistant. Pruning for good air movement.
4.      What control products will work best on this disease?  If you decide to spray, be prepared to spray often.  Honor Guard, Banner, Dithane (Mancozeb), and Kocide are good choices. These products should be used in rotation and according to label. I like the lime-sulfur idea or lime-copper spray for the reason that the original Lamson–Scribner invented this product in an effort to save the French wine crop in the late 1800’s. He called it Bordeaux mix (unfortunately Bordeaux mix is not available anymore). When spraying these chemicals, an appropriate surfactant should be used. Certain surfactants work better than others with particular products.

I’m in yards all the time and this disease is the most common disease I see in our Lowcountry landscape. I usually recommend replanting the area. I can understand spraying roses all the time. Indian Hawthorn – ah, not so much.

It is time to get your preemergent products out before your winter annual weeds start to germinate. With all the rain, Annual Bluegrass (aka Poa, Poa Annua, that pain in the “grass” grassy weed with the white seed head) should germinate early and often! Prevention, being pro-active, and protection is the best way to deal with winter weeds.

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

Friday, August 2, 2013

Prevention and Protection Saves Lives

While cleaning out a file cabinet, I was reminder why I’m a big believer in prevention and protection.

The following is paraphrased from an American Nurseryman article dated 7/1/1989.

An Israeli women’s overzealous attempt to rid her home of a cockroach led to the hospital where her husband was treated for burns, broken ribs and a cracked pelvis.

As told in the National Arborists newsletter, the woman crushed the bug and deposited it in the toilet. However, as cockroaches so often do, this one refused to die, so the woman sprayed an entire can of insecticide in the toilet.

Her husband, unapprised of the situation when he came home, went to the toilet, sat down and lit a cigarette. After finishing it, he flicked the cigarette butt into the toilet, igniting the pesticide. Certain parts of his anatomy were burned in the resulting flames.

As for his broken ribs and pelvis… those occurred when the paramedics were carrying him out. When the paramedics learned how the man burned himself in such an unusual area, they broke into hysterics and lost control of the stretcher, adding injuries to insult.

Prevention and protection – can save your grass!…, house, and landscape plants.

August is here. With all the rain, get your preemergent products out early this year. Annual bluegrass loves moist, damp soils and we have plenty of those this year!

Any bare areas in the lawn should be teased with cotton burr compost, so the grass will fill in. Weeds love to move in on thin turf.

Time to fertilize the trees and shrubs with 17-00-09 or whatever your soil test indicates.

Mosquitoes are still a major issue. Cyonara, IC3, Mosquito Repelling Granulars, Mosquito Beater and many others will do a great job for you.

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