Monday, April 24, 2017

Large Patch or Brown Patch Fungus - Conditions Are Right

Horticulture Hotline 04/24/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

With the cool nights and recent rains, turf fungus seems to be thriving in the Lowcountry.

Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus loves these weather conditions. Temperatures in the high 50’s to low 60’s at night and moisture make conditions real favorable for Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus. We have had plenty of these conditions making the fungus environment perfect for the spread of this disease.

Since it is very difficult to control night time temperatures, you can put your efforts into doing other cultural things to help minimize the disease. Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus likes wet, heavy thatch, improper nutrition, and/or compacted soils.   Culturally you need to manage your irrigation system, raise any low areas, and correct drainage problems.  Reducing thatch, maintaining proper fertility levels, and aerating to alleviate compaction, will also help control Large Patch or Brown Patch fungus.

Certain organic products have shown to increase microorganisms in the soil that compete with plant pathogenic fungus in the soil. At Possum’s we get good feedback from Nature’s Blend, SeaHume, Crab Shell, Corn Gluten, and Cotton Burr Compost. These products are not fungicides; however, people that use them (homeowners and commercial applicators) report back to us that they notice less fungus in the yards that they apply these products.

Since the grass is coming out of dormancy so slow, a systemic control product like T-Methyl and Fame in rotation might be a good idea to get you through the next month or so as long as conditions are favorable for the disease.

Being a soil borne disease, the disease will reoccur in the same areas year after year.  If the base of a leaf blade with Large Patch is moved from one part of the yard to another (lawn mower and not very likely), this can begin a new infection area; however, these are not spores flying through the air.  As a soil borne fungus, if you map the areas that you have the disease, you can concentrate your control efforts (dollars) into a smaller area, putting less control products into the environment.  If your yard is 5,000 sq ft usually you might have a few infected areas which might total approx. 500 ft.  Instead of buying control products to treat 5,000 sq ft, you can concentrate your efforts into the 500 ft (i.e. 10% of your total yard).  If Large Patch was an air borne fungus with spores, you would want to treat the entire yard because air borne fungus spreads a lot quicker than this soil borne fungus.

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

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Flowers Have Come - Now The Calm Before Mowing Starts

Horticulture Hotline  04 17 17
  Bill Lamson-Scribner

Things To Do In April:

1.  Lawn Mower Maintenance
·         Replace your mower blade – this is the part of the mower that cuts the grass, so you want to make sure this is as sharp as possible.  Sharpening blades can get the blade out of balance and just like tires on a car, something that is out of balance and moving at high speeds could cause further damage to the mower. 
·         Make sure you have a clean air filter so your engine gets the oxygen it needs.
·         New spark plug.  Be sure to get the right size and the right gap for a good spark.
·         Oil change.  The key to longevity of an engine.
·         Check your wheels. Are they level? Worn out?
·         New gas – good fuel. I like ethanol free.
2.  Lawn Care
·         Pick up leaves and debris from the winter
·         Check irrigation for broken heads or heads that need adjusted and adjust timer
·         Watch for Large Patch fungus (formerly known as Brown Patch).  This disease is a soil borne fungus and will reappear year after year in the same spots.
·         Mole crickets are be doing their mating flights.   They are up near the surface tunneling and drying out your grass.  Mole cricket bait will be very effective this time of year.
·         Hold off on fertilizing with a lot of nitrogen, this could encourage disease.  If the plant is not fully out of dormancy, it will not be able to take in the nitrogen anyway.  Consider using Perk and SeaHume instead.  Try to bring the grass slowly out of dormancy and avoid surge growth. Perk and SeaHume will encourage root growth. Root growth is especially important in the spring because warm season grasses slough off their old roots in the spring.
·         If you are using split applications of preemerge, and applied your first application in February, it is time to reapply.
·         Mow your grass lower than normal one time with the bagger and suck up any dead thatch and leaf blades from the winter.
3.  Ornamentals, Shrubs and Trees
·         If scale has been a problem, wrap electrical tape onto itself with the sticky side up on twigs near where you have noticed scale.  In the first part of April, scale is in its crawler stage and most vulnerable to chemical attack.  On black electrical tape, you will be able to see the small crawlers and know when it is time to spray.  Neem or Horticultural oil will do a good job. For persistent problems consider Dominion or Tree And Shrub Drench. Scale is usually persistent.
·         Begin spraying trees that have had a history of bore problems.
·         If you have had a history of powdery mildew on Crepe Myrtles, Dogwoods or Roses, this would be the time to spray for this. Neem Oil, Honor Guard or Fertilome Systemic Fungicide are all good systemic products.
·         If you had a history of leaf spot on Red Tips or Indian Hawthorne, be sure to spray the new growth with Honor Guard or Fertilome Systemic Fungicide.
·         Cut back Azaleas and Camellias as they finish blooming. Fertilize with 17-00-09 or according to a soil test.
·         Re-mulch your beds as the oak leaves have finally stopped dropping.  Consider using Cotton Burr Compost as a mulch, it adds a lot of nutrition and doesn’t tie up nutrients.
·         Redefine your bed lines for another season.

Always read, understand and follow product labels.

Monday, April 10, 2017


Amaryllis is one of the most beautiful flowers in the garden!  The huge flower and big bulb almost make them look like fake plants. They are such a showy plant I think some people are afraid to grow them. You can also extend their color by forcing them in the off season or just leave them in the ground and enjoy them in the spring. . Boy they really put on a show and are easy to grow!

After your foliage has died back, you can dig the bulb out of the ground.  
Amaryllis is unique in that they do not respond to photoperiod (light hours received).   This makes Amaryllis easier to force than Poinsettias that you have to bring in an out of a dark closet in order to get them to turn red.  You do not have to regulate the light hours the Amaryllis bulb receives.  All you have to do is hold back the moisture (i.e. no water or fertilizer for 8-10 weeks).  While holding the water back, you can put them in a cool dark place away from any direct light and forget about them.   Since Amaryllis originated in the tropics of South America you also do not need to worry about cooling requirements (i.e. no bulbs in the refrigerator next to your lettuce!).    

Once you have dug the bulb up from your yard, you want to plant the bulb in a pot with well drained soil.  Equal amounts of peat moss and perlite should provide you with a good growing medium.  Do not use a pine bark medium.  Be sure the pot has good drainage.  Usually a 6 inch pot will do for each bulb.  Ideally your pH would be between 6.0-6.5.  When placing the bulb in the peat/perlite mix have at least a third to a half the bulb above the surface.  This will help reduce a disease called fire or red spot that is caused by having the nose of the bulb wet.  When watering, avoid watering the nose of the bulb.   You want to wait until the plant has leaves before you fertilize or you could rot the roots.    

While your bulb is resting, check on it after 4 weeks and look for new growth at the top of the bulb.  Sometimes it doesn’t take the full 8-10 weeks.  If the bulb starts to grow, you can bring it out into the light and begin to water and fertilize it.  Fertilize every other week with a 20-20-20 fertilizer and in about 6 weeks you should have a new flower.

If you really like amaryllis and all the colors they come in, you could stagger (buy or dig some bulbs in week or 2 week intervals) force them, and have a perpetual supply of blooming amaryllis throughout the year! 

There seems to be a lot of insects attacking the new foliage of plants and trees. Tree and Shrub Systemic insecticide that you drench into the ground for long term control of many sucking insects. Neem Oil, an organic product, is good on many insects and mites as well as powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungus that attacks our dogwoods, roses, and crepe myrtles in the early spring on the new growth. Powdery mildew really effects crepe myrtles since they bloom on new growth. Neem Oil will also help with those nasty leafrollers in Cannas.

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