Monday, November 30, 2015

Transplanting - Ways to increase your Success

With the beautiful weather outside, I witnessed a lot of post - Thanksgiving calorie burning outside. Putting up lights and other decorations, raking leaves, blowing leaves, power washing houses and driveways, pruning, spreading SeaHume and a post emergent / preemergent combo product, walking, jogging, biking, scouting fungus and sod webworms, spraying Wet and Forget, cheering at football games, walking to the cooler outside during football games on TV for a “cold one”, walking to the fridge for some left overs or a piece of pecan pie and tracking down moles. I’m not much of a shopper; however, I’m sure there were calories burned at the shops and carrying those bags! While I was doing soil tests, many of our crowd went to McLeod Plantation and several other local parks to build up an appetite.

Now is a great time of year to transplant and plant new plants. Many people are asking me the best way to transplant shrubs and trees. Here are some guidelines for successfully transplanting plants or trees:

·        Decide the size of you root ball. For every inch in tree trunk diameter you want a foot of root ball. So if your tree is three inches in diameter your root ball should go in a circle one and a half feet from the trunk of the tree. You could tie a string around the tree leaving eighteen inches of string – then draw a line walking around the tree measuring with this string. Root balls can be very heavy so consider a hiring a professional. Be prepared to pay top dollar to move a plant because moving plants requires much more work than planting them out of containers. If your plants are way too crowded, get as much root ball as possible, and if they are so crowded that you cannot even get in there to work, you may have to sacrifice a few plants, so you do not kill them all. Always take as large a ball as possible.
·        Spray the plant you are going to move with an anti-transpirant (Cloud Cover, Wilt Proof, or Transfilm). These products will hold moisture in leaves and stems. 
·        Drench the ground with BioRush and SuperThrive. These are bio stimulant products that encourage rooting. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.  
·        Root prune the plant. Go to the area that you determined your ball to go out to and push a shovel straight down – do not pry on the shovel – just cut the roots. Repeat this root pruning all the way around the plant. If the plant has been in the ground a long time, you may have to skip a shovel width each time you root prune to lessen the shock. Apply SeaHume granular (Humic acid and Seaweed bio stimulants) to decrease stress. Repeat monthly until you move the plant.
·        Keep an eye on the plant for the next month. Be sure to water it as needed.  When watering the soil, spray a fine mist on the foliage of the plant.  Since the roots have just been severed, this will help the plant absorb the water through the foliage and water the roots as well. 
·        After thirty days or if you could wait until a cooler time (January, February), dig away from the plant in the area that you root pruned. Resist the temptation to pry up on the plant. You should have a ball in a mote when you are finished. Try to have the plant moved a month before it sends out new growth or flowers in the spring.
·        Water the ball so the soil will stick to the roots.
·        Severe the ball from the area underneath the plant.
·        Always handle the root ball – do not grab the plant by its trunk.
·        Move the plant onto a tarp or some burlap.
·        Be sure when you move the plant to its new home, you plant it above existing grade.   Plants buried too deep are the biggest problem I see in landscapes.  A plant that is planted too deep is starved for oxygen which affects many other plant processes (ability to absorb nutrients or causes root rot). 
·        Be sure not to pile mulch up against the trunk of the tree or shrub as this will also kill the plant over a period of time. Consider using Cotton Burr Compost or Nature’s Blend as a mulch to get the nutrition associated with these products.
·        Spray the leaves and stems with anti-transpirant.
·        Use  Diehard Transplant (contains a friendly fungus inoculum, wetting agents, water holding gel, humic acid, Sea Kelp, root stimulating vitamins and beneficial bacteria) should also be added to increase the surface absorbing area of root systems with the back fill. Spray foliage with BioRush as it is a special blend of natural organic ingredients designed to help transplant survival. Drench with SuperThrive.
·        Apply the right amount of water.  Be sure to spray the foliage.
·        Apply the right amount of Cotton Burr Compost or Natures Blend mulch.
·        Apply granular SeaHume after you have moved the plant to encourage new root growth.
·        Stake the tree or shrub if needed.
·        Good Luck!
·        Time to get in your nominations for product of the year.

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

Monday, November 23, 2015

Labels and Winter Projects

Thanksgiving dinner gives us the fuel to work on winter projects. I have lots of winter projects!  Hopefully, most of you don’t do like I do and try to eat like a mole – eating 125% of my body weight!
I was using a product the other day that the manufacturer went to some trouble and expense to include a tag around the neck of the bottle where you open the top to pour out the product. I’m going to leave the product nameless since this same tag could be used on all products.
This tag is very red and states:
This product is only
 effective if you read the
 instructions thoroughly.
Failure to do so will result in
 you moaning and groaning
that the product doesn’t
work and generally being
a pain in the bottom. Make a
positive change in your life
will you, and read the
This tag makes my, “Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law,” seem pretty tame. Your success with most things in life depend upon your ability to follow instructions.

You should be able to mow your grass for the last time if you do not have rye grass or if you do not use your mower for picking up the leaves.  Since the leaf blades of the grass can act as an insulator, it is good to mow your grass a little lower than normal (St. Augustine grass – 2 ½”, Centipede grass-1 ½”).  In the event of very cold weather, this will keep your grass from dying from winter kill.  The lower grass will allow more air movement.  More air movement will keep cold air from settling near the crown of the plant preventing winter injury to your lawn. 
If you are not mowing to mulch or pick up leaves, be sure to use a fuel additive like Sta-bil.   With the new Ethanol gas many people are experiencing difficulty with their small engines.  Ethanol is an alcohol that attracts moisture from the air.  This moisture can give you engine trouble with your lawn mower , string trimmers, chain saws, edger’s, blowers….any small engine. 
This is a great time to edge your bed lines, enlarging areas in the beds if plants have grown and need more room.  If you edge now, you should maintain a good crisp edge for five months until your grass begins to grow again.  
As leaves and pine straw fall, be sure to keep them off your lawn areas.  Excessive amounts of leaves or straw build up can damage your turf over a period of time.  Leaves or straw can act like tall blades of grass and cause winterkill if it gets cold enough.  Leaves and straw also hold in moisture around the plant that can lead to disease.
If you water with a well, be sure to drain your pump or monitor your pump to avoid it freezing in cold weather if your well is not in a climate controlled location.   Nothing is worse than having to buy a new pump in the spring because it froze in the winter. 
There seems to be an outbreak of uninvited guests.  We have been selling a lot of Viper and Invict Gold to control roaches as well as traps and baits to control rodents.  Talk to your local pest management professional if these guests are ruining your holidays. 
Now is the time to enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park.  The light show, gift shop, displays of gingerbread houses, decorated jumbo Christmas cards, the train ride, sand castle, marshmallow roasting, hot chocolate and inter-active Christmas trees are a treat for all!  Go early and go often!
Remember there are many local garden centers with great gardening gifts for the weekend gardener.  From stocking stuffers like a pair of hand pruners or gloves, to more elaborate gifts like fountains, bird feeders, gardening books, soil tests and gift certificates.  Your local garden center will have plenty of free parking and are always happy to help you! 
Now is a great time to take a soil test to Possum’s and get on a Custom Program for 2016.
Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas Tree Selection and Care Plus More

Another year has almost gone by. What a year! The rain, the floods. The great weather for people doing activities outside, led to fall armyworms, sod webworms and large patch / brown patch on our turf. Does anyone / everyone have moles? This week I started seeing tents going up in parking lots and people wearing Christmas Hats, so I figured it was time for the yearly Christmas tree article.

I’m looking forward to my trip through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. I’m sure I will be treated to another outstanding display of lights this year, plus the sand castle, train, walk around displays, shops and all the “fair food!” If you’re a kid, does Christmas still seems like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me! 

I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree article out early, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas Tree Farm, find a local source for a cut tree, or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays, if you were so inclined.

After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree.  If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like an independently owned garden center.  If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Rotary Club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper or another local organization.  Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.

There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these days.

Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year.  They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. I know I felt like a professional athlete (college athlete in some cases), signing Possum gift certificates last week. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines.  The parking is free and plentiful this time of year.

Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb. Leyland Cypress have been removed from this list.

Local tree farms are also an option. A ride in the country is always a good family event (young children, “how much longer will it take to get there?”).  Noel’s Christmas Tree Farm on Johns Island and Too Goo Doo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are two local tree farms.  Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself. 

If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off of the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb.  Once you bring it home cut an inch off of the bottom of the tree and place it in a 5 gallon bucket of water.  While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the leaves at a minimum. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house. 

Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace.  A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day.  Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors.  If you can, fill (2) one gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water.  Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants with, is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.  

There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh.  Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut at all times is the most important thing you can do for the tree.  The water conducting vessels quickly close up if the tree does not have constant water.  Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7-up and an aspirin in the water. You might want to save the aspirin if you drink Uncle Joe’s egg nog. 

Thank you for shopping at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply and all of your letters, questions and for reading The Horticulture Hotline!