Monday, June 26, 2017

A Little Old, A Little New

Last week, I quickly mentioned flies. They are gross! With all the outdoor (and sometimes dog friendly) sitting areas to restaurants now days the flies seem to be coming in more contact with humans and humans’ food. Flies spread disease. Flies walk around on some spoiled food in the dumpster, then fly over to some dog poop, land on it, and the next thing you know they are on your food. Gross! Not to mention the nuisance of “shooing” the flies away from your food.

Gray Leaf Spot on St. Augustine grass was something I mentioned last week. If you missed the article and would like to read it, go to and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab for archived articles. When writing about the cultural practices to minimize Gray Leaf Spot, I failed to mention that you should mow with a sharp mower blade. Some of the mower blades that started the year off sharp are not so sharp anymore. You want a clean cut on the grass blade. Not blunt force trauma.

One more item from last week. Saturday at the radio show John Quincy (producer of “The Garden Clinic”) brought to Paul (Super Garden Hero) Mulkey and my attention that mosquitoes kill over 1,000,000 people a year. The deadliest insect in the world. Protect yourself!  

Indian Hawthorn (AKA Raphs) have long finished blooming and can be pruned as needed. Watch out for the leaf spot disease that attacks these plants. If your plant’s foliage is thinning and it has spots on its leaves, there is a good chance your plant is under attack.  Honor Guard does a good job of keeping this fungus in check; however, this disease will always be out there so regular spraying is a must. Also, when spraying fungicides, it is important to switch chemical classes to avoid resistance. If they do not need pruning, hold off, because pruning encourages new growth and the disease likes new leaves.  

If you are taking a vacation this summer and have St. Augustine grass, be sure to put out an insecticide to protect your lawn from ‘the nasty rascal, the chinch bug’. Chinch bugs can do serious damage in a very short period of time. They love and multiple greatly in hot, dry weather, so this year has been a very bountiful year for them. Bug Blaster, ECO VIA (National Organics Program compliant), or Allectus (a newer product with some long-term control) should help you manage this lawn terrorist.

Azaleas are getting ready to set their flower buds for next year, so it is very important to do any pruning on these plants right away. Even if you pruned them hard right after they bloomed, you can still do any touch up pruning to manage any growth that might have occurred since the last pruning. An application of KeyPlex or Mighty Plant should help them set more blooms for next year. Watch out for lace bugs sucking on your plants.

Any of the repeat blooming azaleas (Encore, Red Slipper) should be pruned right after they flower. If you prune fairly hard, you will likely lose some of the next flush of blooms; however, they should get back in sync fairly quickly, providing you multiple blooms.

A general rule of thumb is to be sure all your spring blooming plants have been pruned. Gardenias (unless they repeat in August), Camellias, Spirea, Forsythia, flowering quince …

If you haven’t fertilized your lawn, shrubs and trees, a midsummer feeding is a good idea. With the heavy rains and all the growing they have been doing, some food would be a great idea. I’m seeing a lot of yellow grass in my travels. A soil test is always the best guide for fertilization.

Snakes, Japanese Beetles, baby mole crickets killing, ants, aphids, chiggers, fleas, roaches and rats are all hot topics at Possum’s.

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Biting, Stinging Insects and Gray Leaf Spot

Horticulture Hotline 06/19/17

Wasp, biting flies, flies, and mosquitoes – Tis the season. The summer started out with three wasp nests on my front porch. One was right by the door and two others were staring straight at you as you exited the front door towards the street. A few days later, I’m letting Ol’Boy, my pound hound, out of the back door, and there was a wasp nest right next to the door at eye level. Whitmire’s Professional Strength Wasp Freeze handles the situation once again. Wasp 0 me 2.

I felt like I was winning, until I went to my Mother’s house to cook up some vittles on the grill. I turned on the gas (the gas must have aggravated the wasp), then lifted the lid to light it. The wasp came pouring out of the grill and bit me six times before I even knew what was going on. Wasp win this battle.

Hopefully with the professional pest control managers and the readers of the Horticulture Hotline help, the war will be won by the humans, and only a few battles lost to the wasps.

The rains and high tides have the mosquitoes out in full force. Protect yourself!  

Between pop up thunderstorms, people going on vacation, and people just not mowing enough, gray leaf spot has exploded on St. Augustine grass.

Gray leaf spot (Pyricularia grisea) goes with St. Augustine like grits go with shrimp! Or like chinch bugs go with St. Augustine! To battle gray leaf spot, you are best employing many cultural practices and using limited control products if necessary.

Gray leaf spot looks like someone burned or dripped acid on the leaves of the plant.  There are little oblong spots on the leaf.  Eventually, these spots grow together and the leaf blade dies.  Whole areas of your grass can disappear at once when these leaf blades die.

Culturally there are several things to do to minimize your problem with gray leaf spot.  This disease likes high humidity and excessive nitrogen fertilizer.  To help alleviate the high humidity, mow your grass to a level that seems abnormal to St. Augustine.  Try to get it down to 2 ½ - 3 inches depending on the variety of St. Augustine grass.  Also try to mow every 3 – 5 days with a bagger.  This mowing will help get sunlight down to the crown of the plant, drying the leaf blades as quickly as possible.

Mowing is always hard to get someone to modify the frequency of cuts. “The landscaper only comes every 7 or 14 days” or “I mow every Saturday morning”, is what I usually hear. If you don’t want to cut it yourself in between visits by the landscaper (saving a trip to the gym and I have been told a cold beer is extra good after mowing), maybe you could hire a neighborhood kid or your kid to just mow the grass. No edging, blowing or weeding, just a quick mow.

Another alternative to you mowing is applying a growth regulator to your turf. These products work great at slowing your turf’s growth rate. Growth regulators are used extensively on golf courses and athletic fields. Growth regulators do a great job of managing your turf’s growth rate on your home lawn as well.

Consider trimming trees or shrubs to increase air movement through your yard.

This fungus like most fungi likes hot humid weather.  Minimize the amount you water as much as possible.  Wait until your lawn is getting a blue/green color and your foot prints stay in the lawn after you walk across it before you water. Unfortunately, you can not control rainfall as easily. In the Lowcountry, afternoon thunderstorms are a way of life, so keep the grass mowed as low as you can so it will dry out quickly. 

Hold off of the nitrogen fertilizer until you can get this disease under control.  If you need some color, you could add a product like Possum’s Minors to give you some green without all the nitrogen. Watch starving your grass because a malnourished yard is more susceptible to disease. Very low rates of an organic fertilizer or cotton burr compost might help it recover.

At Possum’s, I know we have had several customers that swear they control this disease by using our wetting agent with biostimulants, cotton burr compost, and / or SeaHume along with the above cultural practices. 

If you have to resort to a control product, make sure the product is labeled for Pyricularia grisea.  There are many leaf spot diseases on labels of control products but only certain products work on gray leaf spot on St. Augustine. We had one customer come in that had been applying a product that controlled Drechslera spp. and Biopolaris spp. leaf spot; however, the product was not labeled for Pyricularia grisea (watch where you shop). 

Honor Guard and Heritage are systemic products that you spray. Since this is a leaf spot fungus, the sprays seem to give good coverage over the leaf blade.  If you would rather use a granular product, Prophesy (same active as Honor Guard and Banner), or Fame are granular systemic products that are absorbed through the roots and will do a good job for you.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Few Things Happening Now

Horticulture Hotline 06/12/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Time is flying by once again! School is getting out and it is already June. The heat brings many situations in the landscape.

Right now, there is a great opportunity for those that love fragrance. I know there are some manly men out there that would not admit this because it would compromise their manhood, but two of the Lowcountry gems are blooming now, and they smell great! The Magnolias and Gardenias will stop you in their tracks with their fragrance.

Chinch Bugs are very active. If you have a sunny St. Augustine lawn, it is time to get some protection out there on your turf. EcoVia EC is an NOP (National Organic Program) compliant product. Allectus is a long-term control product. Bug Blaster, Cyonara, Bifen, and Lebanon Sevin will provide short term control.

Speaking of sunny yards, remember to protect yourself from the sun. Since I hang around mostly people that spend time in the sun, I have witnessed and heard about many sun related horror stories. These stories revolve around getting areas cut out and tested for sun cancer.

Drain flies are becoming an issue with all the good local vegetables and fruits being consumed in our kitchens. Using the scum eating microbes in InVade BioDrain will help eliminate the organic build up in drains that harbor the drain flies and the citrus oil will help reduce odors as well. The EcoVia EC (National Organic Program compliant) will help if they are already getting active.

Mosquitoes are out and about looking for a blood meal. The high tides and the heavy  rains we had have ditches and other areas with enough water for mosquitoes to breed. Scout your yard for potential breeding sites. EcoVia EC (National Organic Program compliant) is great on mosquitoes for an organic approach. LambaStar for conventional control.

Moles just have had their spring babies, so expect a surge in their population – wonderful!

Japanese Beetles have emerged (pun intended) on the scene, tearing up Crepe Myrtles, Roses, and many other plants. These heavy eaters are easy to kill with a little persistence. Bifen, Cyonara, and many others will take care of the Japanese Beetle. Traps also work if placed away from where the preferred meal of the Japanese Beetle and are more of an organic approach. EcoVia EC is a Botanical Insecticide that is NOP (National Organic Program) compliant and works.

The baby mole crickets are hatching and the adults are dying off. Now is a good time to ‘flush’ an area that you think you might have mole crickets. Get two ounces of lemony dish soap in five gallons of water and slowly pour it over a 2 x 2 area where you have tunneling damage by mole crickets and see what comes out of the ground in the next 3 to 5 minutes. Depending on your tolerance level, you can decide whether or not to treat. A golf green would have zero tolerance because the tunnels would affect the ball roll. EcoVia EC and Intice Perimeter are two NOP compliant products that should work good for you. Allectus and Lebanon Sevin are conventional control products that will ‘kill the baby’ mole crickets.

Hello, my name is Bill and I have vines. Virginia creeper, Smilax, and peppervine seem to be the worst. Luckily no poison ivy. Vines, vines, everywhere are vines blockin out the scenery … (do you remember the 5 Man Electrical Band in 1971? Hi, my name is Bill and I’m old!)

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