Monday, July 28, 2014

Leyland Cypress Part 2

I was writing about Leyland Cypress last week and ran out of space. If you missed the column, it is available at under the Horticulture Hotline tab.

Leyland Cypress can get some diseases that are treatable and some that are not treatable at this time. It is very important to correctly identify what disease you have before you spend time and money trying to manage something that you cannot control (this is true with any plant, insect, weed or disease). Depending on the size of the tree and your equipment, a professional may be your best option.

Unfortunately, when treating the diseases of a Leyland Cypress, pruning out diseased limbs is usually the first step; therefore, ruining that pyramidal form you were after when you planted the tree. Disinfecting your pruners with a 10% bleach solution between cuts will help prevent the spread of diseases.

Culturally speaking, Leyland Cypress like moist but well-drained soil, lots of sun and air movement, some fertility, and they do not like overhead irrigation (wet needles lead to disease). If you can grow them in these conditions, they have a better chance to survive.

If your Leyland Cypress is dying from the bottom near the ground and moving upwards, you could have Passalora Needle Blight (also called Cercospora or Cercosporidium).
Try to improve their cultural conditions, prune out effected branches, and spray with Thiomyl, T-Methyl or CuPro. The good news is you can treat it. The bad news is you have to remove the diseased lower limbs.

Seiridium canker (my spell check loves all these disease names) is probably the most common disease out there and is easy to identify; however, there is not a cure for it at this time. The ends of the branches are an orange / reddish color. There are usually random branches throughout the tree that have these bright orange needles (in a way the way twig borer manifests itself on a Magnolia – just referring to the random aspect – one is a disease and one is an insect). You can also look for cankers and resin oozing. Trying to keep the tree as happy as possible with good cultural practices and removing diseased limbs are about your only option at this time.

Looks like I’m going to run out of space again. With all the rain earwigs, big roaches, and a few other uninvited guest are making their way into our homes.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Leyland Cypress & Mosquitoes

Well, I did it. My neighbors might not be thrilled because I did it organically. I freed my yard of mosquitoes with an organic repellent product. Sorry neighbors, next time I promise to kill them old school style, so they won’t show up at your next barbeque.

Despite a huge amount of rain the repellent is still working. So nice, no mosquitoes! Mosquito control has become a niche service that many pest management professionals, lawn care operators, and specific mosquito control companies are offering. With these “wraps” put on vehicles these days, it is interesting to look at the different marketing done by these companies as I drive through neighborhoods. I have seen a whole lot of these vehicles recently either working in neighborhoods or reloading their product of choice at Possum’s.

With all the rain showers we are getting, regularly scout your yard for anything that might hold water and become a breeding area for mosquitoes. Keeping their breeding areas to a minimum will greatly decrease their populations. A few ounces of standing water can lead to thousands of mosquitoes – scary!

I have been getting an abnormal amount of questions about Leyland Cypress. Unfortunately, like many plants, they have been over used and put in situations that are not ideal for their growth.

Leyland Cypress like a lot of air movement. I see many people plant this tree as a screen, and to get an immediate effect, the trees get planted too close together or grow too close together. Then they begin to struggle.

Leyland Cypress like well-drained soil with some moisture – not wet but not drought stricken either.  I have seen them grown on sandy berms that tend to be too dry for the proper growth of this tree. I have also seen them in heavy, poorly drained clay soil or in wet areas where they struggle.

Leyland Cypress like full sun, which in the landscape as they are developing a screen, can lead to their own demise. They begin to shade each other out. The shade tends to weaken them and then different problems occur.  

Leyland Cypresses are susceptible to many diseases and insects. Some are easily treated and some are not. Hopefully, I will write about some of these pests next week.

Army worms, roaches, chinch bugs, brown batch, mosquitoes, and gray leaf spot seem to be the top problems this week. Be strong!

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mosquitoes - They Must Die

Last night I finally figured out one of the “mysteries of life”. I had always wondered why there are one to three mosquitoes flying around inside my car in the morning. They were not in my car when I parked it the night before. My windows are sealed tightly. No holes in the floor board like my 1972 VW Bug. Drum roll please… The brief minute it takes me to get out of the car, the mosquitoes are going into the car! Light bulb comes on (some people have said my head looks like a light bulb) and I have finally figured it out.

Now it is time to wage war against the mosquito.

First, I’m going to give you a shopping list. Pick up these items then wage war on the mosquitoes and their breeding places in your yard. Liquid Net (the Ultimate Insect Repellent by The Liquid Fence Company), Cyonara Lawn and Garden, Mosquito Repelling Granules, Mosquito Dunks, and Altosid Pro G are some of the basic weapons that you will need to wage war against these blood suckers.

Apply the Liquid Net to yourself. This product is organic and does an unbelievable job against mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums, ticks and other biting insects. Liquid Net is non-greasy, DEET-free, and safe for the whole family. It also has a 100% guarantee from the manufacturer. Last year I had one of my customers from Possum’s wanting to travel around to the various ball field complexes and sell this stuff because it worked so good, was organic and would not harm her small children. Now you are ready for the yard.

Scout around the yard for anything that holds water. Old tires, saucers under potted plants, bird baths, old flower containers or pots stacked in a corner, dog toys, kids toys, a container by the grill you use to soak wood chips in, a cooler, an old fountain, a hole in a tree and a dogs water bowl all make great places for mosquitoes to breed. Empty the water out these areas (refill the dog bowl and the bird bath daily). A tarp covering a boat.  A few empty bottles or cans can end up being thousands of mosquitoes!  Many mosquitoes can breed in just an ounce of water.

If you have bigger areas of water like a ditch or a low area of the yard that holds water, apply the Mosquito Dunks or the Altosid Pro G. The Mosquito Dunks are an organic Bt product that kill larvae and the Altosid Pro G is a growth regulator product that contains the same active ingredient that is used in the Precor products for controlling fleas. Although Altosid is not organic, it is considered to be very safe and labeled to be used in very sensitive areas like marshes. Turn off your irrigation when you can and correct any drainage problems.

Any pruning you can do to increase air movement and sunlight penetration will also help. Mosquitoes like moist stagnant areas. Mosquitoes are very weak fliers, so they do not like wind or air movement (big fans for parties help). Mosquitoes are a public health issue, so  you might be able to get some help from a government agency.

Next, you want to mow your lawn then spray the lawn, shrubs, trees, and mulched areas with Cyonara Lawn and Garden. This product not only kills mosquitoes but also kills chiggers, fleas, ants, ticks, spittlebugs and roaches just to name a few other problem insects out right now.

If you would like to stay organic apply Mosquito Repelling Granules. Check the weather (I know it is hard to do around here) because this product likes to be dry for 48 hours after application. This organic product really does a great job. It is university tested and has also proven itself in the Lowcountry. Many of our customers at Possum’s have reported control for over three weeks! We sell it to people putting on large fundraisers, other outdoor festivals, sporting events, and individuals and we always get positive feedback. If you would rather spray, try EcoVia EC. A natural product that works!

If this sounds like too much work, hire a professional. Always read and follow product label.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Growth Regulators

It is hard to believe another year is half way over with. Depending on your fertility program, now is generally a good time to fertilize. It has been a while since the ever popular spring fertilization and with the help of a few rainstorms, many lawns look washed out and hungry. Do not forget about your trees and shrubs, they are hungry too.

I often hear, “Bill, I do not want to fertilize my lawn because I don’t want to mow it.” Or the ever popular, “Bill, no one feeds the trees in the forest, and they do fine.” And “I don’t want to fertilize my shrubs because they will grow and I will have to hedge them.”

You wouldn’t stop eating just because you got to a certain height. If you have children, you would not stop feeding them. Plants, like people, need certain nutrients to remain healthy. In an urban environment, we need to supply our plants nutrients. In a forest where leaves, limbs, trees fall to the forest floor and are recycled into nutrients by microorganisms, trees can fend for themselves.

If you want to reduce your mowing, consider using a growth regulator. With generic products available, these products have become very affordable. They were very affordable before they went generic with the time, fuel and wear and tear of equipment that was saved. Now there is much less “sticker shock.”

I mix up a weed killer, insecticide, fungicide, fertilizer, growth regulator and a few secret ingredients together and stop my St. Augustine from growing for a month. When it starts to grow, I spray it again. I still fertilize, but no mowing. Very nice!

I work with a football field that has an Elaeagnus hedge that covers the chain-linked fence that surrounds the stadium. The groundskeeper was trimming this hedge monthly during the growing season and hating it. He started using a growth regulator twice a year and barely does any pruning to it at all now. Elaeagnus are infamous for being a pain in the landscape with their wild growth habit. The groundskeeper went from standing on a ladder pruning a 6 to 8 foot hedge, and raking up the debris and disposing of it to just walking by and spraying a product. He was happy, happy, happy.

Check out growth regulators for edging a sidewalk, along a fence , for a shrub, or a groundcover and save some time this year.

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