Monday, March 31, 2014

Cocktails for the Yard and House Part 2

Cocktails For Better Results Part 2 (if you missed part 1 and would like to see it, go to and look under Horticulture Hotline tab.)

For plants with perennial insect problems a great combination to use this time of year is Neem Oil (Triact for commercial people or large property folks) and Dominion Drench. Horticultural oil is something you could use in place of Neem Oil. I like the Neem Oil because it controls certain fungi as well as killing overwintering insects like the oil.

Scale, aphids, lace bugs and whiteflies are a few insects that are very host specific and attack the same plants year after year. One easy way to tell if your plants are getting attacked is do they turn black from the sooty mold every year? The oil will smother overwintering eggs and the Dominion drench will move into the plant through the root system systemically and protect the new young foliage as well as the old foliage.

When you do this drench of Dominion, there are many other cocktail possibilities. SeaHume liquid, SuperThrive, Fish / Seaweed blend and or 18-00-06 that could be added to the watering can of Dominion.

Crepe Myrtles, especially the older varieties, tend to get aphids and powdery mildew. The Neem oil will provide short term control of both of these detractors. The Dominion will be sucked up into the plant and provide season long control against the aphids.

Scale is common on camellias, hollies, Fatsia and many, many other plants in the Lowcountry. Scale hides behind a waxy covering it produces, protecting it from birds, predatory insects and control products. By using Dominion and going through the plant you bypass this waxy coating.

Gardenias use to be about impossible to grow because of whiteflies. Whiteflies (scale, aphids, and lace bugs) reproduce so quickly, it was very difficult to spray enough to keep the whitefly in check. Up until the early 90’s most gardenias were black from sooty mold. Dominion changed weekly sprayings into a once a year drench.

Lace bugs seemed to have really flourished during those dry years we had a few years ago, and have not let up. Azaleas, lantana, oak trees and sycamores are just a few hosts that really get attacked. Lace bugs are not quite as bad with sooty mold. The leaves will look mottled and like the fluid has been sucked out of them. If you look closely, you can see them and their fecal matter on the underside of the leaves. Their camouflage would make the folks of Duck Dynasty proud.

Since beneficial bug eaters do not feed on the plant by drenching Dominion, you do not kill any beneficial insects that feed on other bugs.

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cocktails for the Yard and House Part 1

Certain foods or other items just go together. Vanilla ice cream and pecan pie (hot apple pie, hot brownies, hot chocolate chip cookies…) and a topping of whipped cream go well together. Wines with certain foods or champagne with dessert are common pairings. Oysters, beer and Bowen’s Island are three things that go together well (Rose Society Oyster Roast April 13). March Madness Basketball and chicken wings go great together.
I’m sure you get the idea. In landscaping and pest control there are some products that do much better when paired with another product or two.

Right now as the lawn, shrubs, and trees are coming out of dormancy, a combination of SeaHume, Cotton Burr Compost (or Flower Amendment) and Black Castings will get your yard off to a healthy start. These products alone will do great things for your grass; however, if you combine them, look out. Some people will use them across their whole yard, others will target weak plants, weak turf, just their front yard or their favorite tree or plant. With all the cold damage to the different plants, turf and trees, this combination should be a good jump start for your plants, trees and grass this Spring.

SeaHume is a combination product of its own. Seaweed and humic acid are two great products that go great together. The Seaweed is full of minor nutrients, amino acids, gibberellins, and many other plant nutrients. The Seaweed also feeds the microorganisms in the soil, helps the plant grow deep roots. Deep roots help with compaction, drought tolerance, wear tolerance and they give the plant the ability to gather more nutrients because the roots cover more area. The humic acid in SeaHume helps create a rich, fertile, soil structure by modifying physical and chemical properties of the soil. Humic acid helps root growth and makes nutrients that are tied up in the soil available to the plant.

Cotton Burr Compost is very high in nutrition (some other compost are good filler but add little nutritional value). Plants and turf love it. Cotton Burr Compost provides a great ‘hotel’ for microorganisms in the soil. One of the biggest benefits of Cotton Burr Compost is that it lasts up to 2 years in the soil. Most other organic amendments are decomposed in 30 days or so depending on the microorganisms in the soil.  

Black Castings are Mother Nature’s purest form of natural organic slow release plant food produced by earthworms. Black Castings are full of beneficial microbial populations and the food to support good soil biology. They enhance plant growth and stress recovery (wear, insect, disease, cold damage). Black Castings will make fertilizer work better and in many cases you can reduce the amount of fertilizer applied.

Try this cocktail, I think you and your plants and your grass will love it!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Getting Real Close To Spring

Wow, these nice warm days are making it seem like springtime. The State Flower, Carolina Jasmine, is very visible with its yellow flowers. Maples are tasseling; fig trees and bald cypress are putting on their new foliage along with many other trees and shrubs.
Have you fed your shrubs and trees this year?                                               

Shrubs and trees like humans and dogs need food to remain healthy. Without food and water, insects and disease have the upper hand in turning the tree into compost. In nature, insects and disease are constantly putting pressure on healthy trees to eliminate them. Then the termites and other secondary fungi move in and act as Mother Nature’s disposal system. A well fed tree or shrub can finned off these attacks. Please feed your trees and shrubs! If there was a commercial showing neglected trees and shrubs like the commercial for the neglected dogs, I bet more people would feed their trees and shrubs.

I’m feeling good. I finally got my preemerge and SeaHume out on my lawn and beds. To save some time I used a preemerge with fertilizer in my bed areas. My yard is divided into six areas and one of those areas the moles have been having a St. Patrick Day celebration to beat the band. Tunnels everywhere! No respect! That will be my next project. If someone could run the moles out of Charleston, they would have at least a week long celebration for them.

I gave a talk for the Alhambra Garden Club last week and about all we talked about was moles. People work so hard on their landscapes and they just tear it up. Again, no respect!

I have been seeing a lot of scale insects in the landscape. This is a great time to drench your plants with Dominion and protect the new foliage.

I was talking to my neighbor, and he mentioned he went to start his mower and the battery or starter was bad. Time to make sure that mower is ready to do its thing or you might have to buy another one while you wait for yours to get fixed!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Trees and More

With all the cold and ice, now is a great time to inspect your trees for torn limb remains that need to be properly pruned. Many of my deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves) are either just starting to put on new leaves or still naked. The green weeds are easy to spot in the lawn or beds (yes, I get weeds too). Insect inventory, especially scale, is easy to evaluate at this time. Any sooty mold left behind from last year indicates other insects. With the recent rains, a search for any mosquito breeding areas was easy to do. I hate to ask this, but does anyone have moles?

Right now, before your deciduous trees put on new leaves, is an excellent time to take a close look at them. If your trees are larger, it is a great time to get a professional tree company in to look at them. Look for crossing and rubbing limbs or limbs that are growing towards the middle of the tree. Look for limbs that have died, damaged by ice or look unhealthy. By pruning these limbs now you can direct all the new leaves and growth to limbs you want to keep long term, and not waste the energy of the tree to put on new leaves that you are going to remove later.

Dr . Shigo (the main man as far as early tree knowledge goes) found that trees do 85% of their growing for the year by May, so it is very important to have fertilizer available to your trees at this time. Either hire a professional to soil inject your trees or use a granular. SeaHume granular along with a granular product will get the tree headed in the right direction. A soil test is always the best way to determine your soil’s needs.

When your tree is naked, vines growing up into the canopy are easy to spot along the trunk of the tree. Since the tree does not have any leaves, these vines are easier to remove than when the tree and vine have leaves. I pull these vines away from the tree, scrap off some bark and apply my “vine killer” to the open wound.

Weeds growing beneath the tree are easier to spot and deal with if you have a low branching deciduous tree. My fig tree has these big leaves, so once the leaves come out, it is very hard to spray a herbicide underneath the tree without hitting the fig tree’s leaves. Spray now before the flush of leaves.

If you have any Asiatic Jasmine or Ivy that has grown into areas you do not want it, right now, while it is putting on young tender growth, is going to be your best time to control it. Consider using a product like Brushmaster for these hard to kill vines.

If you have been plagued by black sooty mold in the past, right now, apply Dominion Tree & Shrub as a drench to these plants to control the insects that produce the black sooty mold. Get it out now to protect the new foliage from insect attack. Insects like that young tender foliage like us (cabbage, spinach, lettuce).

I’m hearing the Weed & Feed commercial (some guy named Scott) playing on the radio, and I think most people in the Lowcountry know it is too early to fertilize with a fairly high nitrogen based fertilizer. And spreading a root absorbed chemical for killing weeds across your lawn where roots of desirable trees and shrubs might be, is not the best idea either (their label does warn against this; however, it is difficult to tell where roots extend to).

With all the rain look for drainage issues and potential fungus problems.

The cooler nights have given us a longer window for preemerge products. Get them out now for less hot, gnatty, summertime weeding and competition for your plants.

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

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Choosing a Lawn Care Company, Landscaper or Pest Control Company


Spring is just around the corner and I’m ready to work out in my yard!  My problem is that I have limited time and lots of yard problems.  I have ants, weeds, and I need to put out a preemergent.  My dog also had fleas last year.  I was wondering if there is a product that will do all of these at once, or if I have to do them separately?  I would prefer to use a granular, but I could spray if I have to. Will you recommend a lawn care company to me?

I have been hit with some variation of this question a lot recently. Since we sell to many different companies, it is best to ask your friends.

Unfortunately there is not one granular product that would be able to treat all of these issues at once; however you could mix certain control products together and take care of the issues you have.  In order to tank mix different control products, you need to make sure the products are compatible with each other.  Also, you must calibrate your sprayer to make sure you are getting the proper amount of product out, in the given amount of square feet according to the product labels.  Knowing the correct amounts to put into the sprayer to control what you are trying to control is critical.  Does this all sound “Greek” to you?

Since you said you do not have much time, have you ever considered a professional lawn service?  They regularly mix several control products together to control many issues in the lawn at one time.  They are licensed by the state to apply control products and they apply control products on a daily basis.  Many applicators have years of experience putting out products as well.   Most companies have different programs where they will either treat your yard on an “on call” basis, quarterly program, or complete yearly programs.  Check with the individual companies for what they have to offer. 

When choosing a lawn care company or any contractor, it is good to get references from neighbors and friends.  With lawn care companies, it is especially important to find one that is doing good work in your neighborhood.  Most applicators that work for a lawn care company have a route in a certain area and different applicators have different abilities and experience.  If you sign up with a company who is doing your neighbors two doors down, chances are you will get the same applicator that they have. 

 Sometimes it is easier to “Let your fingers do the walking” or check Angie’s List! 

You still have time to preemerge, since the soil temperatures are still cool.

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