Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ready or Not, Spring is on the Way

The Tulip Magnolia (Saucer Magnolia) is blooming in the Lowcountry.  It is time to be sure the winter projects have been completed, and the proactive spring projects in the yard and around the house have been taken care of.

With the rain we had last spring, the trees grew like gang busters. Areas of grass might be shaded and thin that were once high quality turf. Now, might be a good time to cut new bed lines and let the tree have more room to grow. Check the sides of your house for limbs rubbing the paint off of your house. The paint protects your house like your skin protects you or like bark protects a tree.

Look above your roof line and see if any limbs are growing above your roof that could allow varmints (squirrels, raccoons, or the loveable possum) into your attic. Make sure your source of power to your house is free of limbs. Hire an insured arborist if you need some pruning done.

Any transplanting or planting of new trees or shrubs should be done ASAP. Try to get them in the ground before the plant flushes out new growth or blooms. If you are buying a blooming plant that you want a specific color or to match a color you already have, you may have to wait; otherwise, the sooner you can plant the better. When planting remember the Diehard Transplant, it is like the yogurt Jamie Lee Curtis (great in the old version of Fun with Dick and Jane) advertises. Diehard Transplant adds all the good bacteria, wetting agents and fungi into the soil that a plant needs to help with survival.
Remember the old saying when planting, “plant it high and it will not die!”

Intice 10 perimeter bait is a great product to put out around the perimeter of your house for roaches, crickets, sowbugs, earwigs, silverfish, millipedes and certain ants. Intice 10 is a LEED tier 3 product and N.O.P. (National Organics Program) compliant, so it is considered very safe.

Intice 10 should also be broadcasted in the yard for mole crickets. Since Over n Out changed the active ingredient away from Fipronil, mole crickets have become a major turf pest again. Mole crickets come to the surface on these warm days and love to eat this bait!

Judging from the flea products we have been selling at Possum’s, now would be a good time to get ahead of the fleas. Be sure to use a product with a growth regulator. Precor 2000, Ultracide, IG Regulator, Alpine Flea Insecticide with IGR are just a few products that will get you ahead of the curve. The Prefurred line of products that you apply directly to the animal has done very well.

Get out your preemerge, or forever fight weeds!!

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Mid February - Get Ready - Spring is Coming

Control small seeded annual summer weeds now with a preemergent product. Enough said!

Soil Test? Bring them to Possum’s for accurate testing and an easy to follow interpretation of the results.

We are about ready to be able to prune back our cold damaged plants. Wait about another two to three weeks and see if you can see any new growth emerging. We should be passed the last frost date (no crystal ball here), and your plants should (hopefully) have some visible new growth.

Get ready to mow down the Liriope.  Hedge shears or a lawn mower with a sharp blade is great for doing this.  Holly fern and cast-iron plant will also benefit from cutting back to remove old discolored foliage. I do not know why, but I can convince people to cut back their Liriope; however, trying to get them to cut back holly fern and cast iron plant is not as easy. I see more people pruning individual leaves than just cutting the whole plant back to the crown. The complete new growth from the cast iron plant and the holly fern will look as spectacular as the new growth from the Liriope. Get rid of all that tattered old foliage!  

After you have done some ‘Spring Cleaning’, SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost with their loaded micronutrients and biostimulants should help your plants and turf come out of dormancy healthy.

Re-cut and redefine your bed lines. Bed lines are a basic element of landscape design.  They define your landscape. Well defined bed lines with just mulch can be very attractive even without plants. Bed lines can be defined by a clean trench with a shovel, wood, brick or steel edging. Plants grow, so bed lines need to re-defined periodically. If you have brick or steel edging, this may require that you remove plants instead of just redefining the bed line. 

Do not prune any spring flowering plants unless you want to sacrifice the flowers.

As temperatures allow spray your trees and shrubs with dormant oil sprays. These products will kill over-wintering insects and keep them from munching on your new spring foliage. Neem oil works great on some diseases as well.

If you have plants like Camellias (scale), Gardenias (white flies), Crepe Myrtles (aphids), Lantana (lace bugs) or any other plant that you know regularly turns black from sooty mold, consider drenching with Dominion Tree and Shrub for season long control of sucking insects. This systemic product is awesome!

Any plants infested with scale, consider using Safari and following it up with Dominion. Safari is a drench product that moves up through the plant very rapidly for a quick knock down of scale and other insects. I have seen it remove scale off of plants that have been treated with oils for over twenty years. Then treat with Dominion for long term preventive systemic control.

The spring walking tours throughout the Lowcountry will begin over the next month. These tours are a great way to get ideas for your on landscape projects, and a good way to enjoy a day looking at hidden treasures in the Lowcountry. Beaufort, Savannah, and many other areas have these tours if you want to add a little drive time through the Lowcountry to your tour. I would also highly recommend Georgetown’s Plantation Tours to anyone who has not been to that tour. I have had the privilege to work with most of these properties, and they are something to see. Of course, support our local tours first!

Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society              Invites you to a lecture on
By Dr. Fletcher Derrick Jr.
Where:             Berkeley Electric Cooperative Office
                        3351 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC 29455
When:  Sunday, Mar. 2, 2014
Time:   3:00 PM; Social – 2:30 PM
Admission:  FREE

Dr. Derrick has been growing roses for over 35 years and is an American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian and an Accredited Horticulture Judge. He has been featured in Post and Courier and has appeared on South Carolina ETV program “Making it Grow” discussing roses with Rowland Alston. In his spare time, he grows and takes care of his rose bushes in his home garden. Aside from growing roses, he also paints roses in his spare time.

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

Friday, February 7, 2014

Valentine's Day and Roses

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I would include a little piece of an article that Rosalinda Morgan wrote for ‘The Charleston Rose’ – which is a publication of the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society.

 “This month when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is interesting to note that the rose is not only a symbol of love but a symbol of discretion. Legend has it that Cupid gave a red rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to bribe him to secrecy over the dalliance of Venus and so the red rose become the symbol of discretion, love, passion and romance. Roses were henceforth painted on the ceilings of banquet halls to remind all gathered there that whatever was said there, should not be repeated which became the expression sub rosa (under the rose). Another legend says that while Aphrodite was running to the dying Adonis, she was scratched by a rose bush and her blood falling on the roses turn it red. Other account says that Adonis turned his blood into red roses.”

I guess the roses painted on the ceilings of banquet halls was the early roots (pun intended) of the saying, “what happens in Vegas , stays in Vegas.”

Another mention from “The Charleston Rose” is that Dr. Malcolm Manners will be at Cypress Gardens February 22 to give a lecture in the morning at FRUITMANIA GARDEN SCHOOL and he will give a program in the afternoon on Old Garden Roses at 2 pm. Tickets for just Dr. Manner’s rose program will be $10 which includes admission to the Gardens. Call to reserve a seat 843 553-0515 or or BUY tickets on line.

If you are interested in growing fruit in the Lowcountry, you should mark this date!

I have been going to Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society meetings for over 20 years. When I started going to the meetings, I had some hybrid tea roses, but what I learned from the meetings, I quickly applied to other areas of my yard. Now I have very few roses (ones that I won as door prizes at the meetings), but the knowledge, enthusiasm, and people keep me coming back. Oh yeah, and the spring oyster roast (steam) at Bowen’s Island!!

Where I lived at the time I started going to the meetings, I had terrible clay soil. So in late January or early February, while I was adding organics to my Roses, I would add organics to all my plants. On these nice February days it is great to get outside and spread some Flower Bed Amendment (composted cotton burrs, cattle manure, feather meal, cottonseed meal, and alfalfa meal) and SeaHume (humate and seaweed) around your plants and trees.

The pruning techniques for roses are the basic techniques that can be used on most other plants, fruit trees and trees. Bob and Sandy Lundberg gave a great seminar and a hands on demonstration of how to prune roses during the February meeting. They are national award winning exhibitors with over 400 roses, and we are lucky to have them in our local society. They drive from Blufton, SC to share their knowledge with us.

Whether you are pruning a rose or a crepe myrtle, start with the inward growing, crossing and any sick or diseased branches then go from there…

Time to apply preemerge products to your lawn and beds.

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

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Preemergent Time - Prevention of Summer Annual Weeds

This cool weather really has our local oysters tasting good, and the soil temperature indicates that it is just about time to apply preemergent products to your beds and turf. I know many of you are used to waiting for Valentine’s Day (a great present by the way if you like living with the dog in the dog house) or the running of the Daytona 500 to apply the magical weed preventer, and this year is shaping up to be no different.

Depending on which Phd doctor you believe, crabgrass germinates when the soil temperature (3 inches deep) stays above 55 degrees (some people say 57 degrees), for 3 straight days provided adequate moisture in the soil. Now some doctors say remains 57 degrees or above for 24 hours at a depth of 3 inches with adequate moisture.  If you are not in to monitoring the soil temperature, Valentine’s Day or the running of the Daytona 500 should work for you.

The turf areas as well as the landscape bed areas will greatly benefit from the use of preemerge products. Not only will the yard look better, but your plants will not have to compete with the weeds for sun, nutrients, and water. If you are controlling weeds with preemergent products, there are less weeds there for you to spray or pull, saving you time. There is also less stress on you trying to find time to control the weeds in your yard (example “Honey, [Johnny or Jane] and I are going [turkey hunting, spot tail fishing, golfing, to watch March Madness and eat chicken wings {Jane shopping}].” Spouse reply, “ok sweetie, have you sprayed the weeds in the front yard like you said you were going to do last week?”) Kill them now with a preemergent control product!

For those new readers of the Horticulture Hotline, preemergent control products kill weeds as they germinate.  The weeds never come up and you never have to worry about them.  Crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyardgrass, crowfootgrass, dallisgrass (seedling), foxtail, annual bluegrass, smutgrass, barley, kikuyugrass, wild oats, bittercress, carpetweed, chickweed, Carolina geranium, henbit, knotweed, lespedeza, marestail, black medic, mustard, oxalis, pineappleweed, pigweed, redroot, parsley-piert, purslane, rocket, shephardspurse, speedwell, spurge, and woodsorrel are examples of weeds controlled by preemergent products.  Small seeded annual weeds are controlled by preemergent products.

Read the label of the specific product that you are using to get an exact list of weeds that the manufacturer has tested and shown to control. Preemergent products applied now do not control winter annual weeds that are already up like annual blue grass. To control annual bluegrass, you would have used a preemergent in August.

Clover, Florida Betony, Nutsedge and Dollar weed are not controlled by preemergent control products.  These are perennial weeds. Weed Free Zone is a liquid that will do a good job on controlling many of your broadleaf weeds. The Nutsedge will require a different product and is most likely not visible right now.  It is important to control these weeds now before they go into their reproductive stage.  A weed in its reproductive stage is harder to control than a weed in its vegetative stage. By killing the weed now you avoid having to deal with more weed seeds next year.

It is very noticeable when you ride through the Lowcountry which homeowners and which businesses used preemergent products last fall at the correct time. One business or home lawn will be nice and brown and dormant with-out a spec of green in sight. Right next to it will be brown turf mixed with green weeds. Again, it is very important to control those weeds now before they begin to flower.

If you want to control the Sweetgum balls, now is the time to arrange that treatment. An arborist can inject Snipper now and the balls will not develop into the nuisance in the landscape that they would otherwise. Call right away as this is a timing issue as well.  

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