Monday, August 28, 2017

To Do List - Help you Save Time in the Long Run

Horticulture Hotline 08/28/17
  Bill Lamson-Scribner

Football season is starting, so I guess it is time for the Horticulture Hotline disclaimer.

For the new readers of the Horticulture Hotline, my To Do Lists are designed to help you target a few activities in your yard and in your home, that will benefit you in the future, giving you more free time.  These lists are not designed to interfere with high school, college, or professional football games, volleyball, soccer, baseball, fishing, shrimping, hunting, golfing, eating chicken wings at a local sports bar, oyster roasts, or watching NASCAR on the couch with closed eyes!  This is not designed to be a “honey do” list. 

With all the rain we have had, many plants, trees and grass have grown like crazy. Are tree branches or shrubs rubbing against your house removing the paint that protects your house from rot? Can squirrels and rats now access your roof and find a way into your home? Is your view blocked while trying to pull in or out of your driveway? Is your sidewalk overgrown with shrubs? Remember that azaleas and camellias have already set their blooms for next year, so be aware that you are removing some flowers. Have you noticed the pecan trees? Many are so heavy with nuts the limbs are hanging down – way down – and even splitting.

Large Patch Fungus (Brown Patch Fungus) and Gray Leaf Spot are attacking lawns across the Lowcountry.  I rode through several neighborhoods this week and saw it everywhere.  These cooler nights make conditions right for this disease.  Fungi like moisture and it has been raining a lot recently.  If you can let your grass dry out between watering, you will have less fungus (I understand this is not easy to do with rainfall).  There are organic products that will increase the bio-diversity in the soil and help control Large Patch Fungus and Gray Leaf Spot (Neptune Harvest Crab shell, SeaHume, and Back to Nature’s Cotton Burr based products).  If you have an active infestation, a combination of T-Methyl, Prophesy and Fame are good chemistries to rotate.

If you plan to plant bulbs this fall, purchase them now while the selection is good.  Look for bigger bulbs.  Bigger bulbs equal bigger plants.  When planting, try 04-04-04 Sustane in the hole.  Use Mighty Plant on the foliage to help create a bigger bulb next year. 

Worms are still chowing on lawns. They like to feed under the cover of rainfall when it is darker and birds are less apt to see them. There has been a lot of spotty attacks this year. If you travel during the fall, you might want to use something preventatively because worms can do a lot of damage quickly. Most people notice the moths in their lawn first. These moths lay the eggs that become the worms that eat your grass. This past Saturday on my 15-minute drive to the radio station, I got two phone calls about worms (and one about fungus). Our first call on the radio was about worms as well.

The wet, cooler weather will also run roaches and rodents into your home.  If you are prone to be attacked by these two pests, be sure to prepare for their arrival. 

Moles always get more active in the fall.  Manage their food source with Lebanon Insect Control and use Repellex around the perimeter to keep them out of your yard.

Now is the time to put out your fall fertilizer for your trees, shrubs and turf. Fall fertilization is very important for the health of your plants, trees and lawns especially when it has rained like it has this year. A soil test will tell you a lot of valuable information.

Now that the weather has cooled down, it is a good time to redefine your bed lines, prune anything that has gone wild over the summer, sharpen your mower blade, and pull any vines that are strangling your plants.  

Have you put out a preemergent product for winter weeds yet? Mosquitoes?

If this sounds like too much work, hire a professional.

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Believe It - The Seasons Are Changing

Horticulture Hotline 08/21/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

The time has come! Stop the ‘Weed Apocalypse’ now! Many terrorists of different genus and species are prepared to attack you where you live! Prepare to fight! Stop the spread of the obnoxious weed species now before it is too late! Weeds cause disease and mayhem! Weed jihad against your yard and flower beds! When the temperature is so hot, winter weeds are probably the last thing on your mind. Just like football, deer hunting, volleyball, and shrimp baiting season, winter weeds are coming.

What you are targeting now are small seeded winter annual weeds.  These are weeds that germinate from seeds late summer, grow into plants during the winter, then flower and produce seed for the following year in early spring.  The seeds lay dormant over the summer, and then germinate late summer to begin another life cycle. 

Some examples of the most common winter annual weeds are annual bluegrass (Poa annua), chickweed, Carolina geranium, and Henbit.  The weed that we get the most complaints about is annual bluegrass.  It is the grassy weed with the white seed head in late March, early April.  If you control your winter weeds now with a preemergent herbicide, you usually will not have to mow your grass until later in the spring.  All of these weeds are very visible in a brown dormant grass. These weeds also compete with your existing turf when it tries to come out of dormancy in April. 

A couple of weeds that are not annual weeds that are visible at the same time are Dollar weed and Florida Betony (rattlesnake or artichoke weed).  These weeds require different control methods since they are not coming up from seed.

Many customers of ours at Possum’s have reported a drastic reduction in Florida Betony by using the higher rate of Dimension right now. I have done research for the manufacturer (Dow AgroSciences) and have shown great results in all my test plots.  Technically, since Dow did not pay the EPA the money to add this application to the label because this weed is not significant enough in their eyes to recoup the money paid to the EPA, I cannot recommend this application. If you have Florida Betony and are going to use a preemergent product for annual bluegrass, you might want to give a product containing Dimension a try and see if your results are as good as mine and other landscapers.

Dimension comes in many strengths, so be sure you purchase the correct one. We see many national companies (and some local companies) selling the lower active ingredient product (0.10%, 0.13%, and 0.15%) and not advising the customer about the higher use rates required in the Coastal South for this product.

Preemergent products do what their name implies.  These products kill the weeds seed before it can emerge from the ground.  By killing the weed before it emerges from the ground, you are making your life a lot easier.  Killing weeds after they emerge (post-emergent) is much harder on you and your grass. 

Be careful to read and follow product labels so that you do not over-apply products.  Since a lot of people put out preemergent products as a granular, be careful not to overlap too much or you can damage your turf. 

Now is the time to put out preemergent products (two weeks before the soil temperatures are ready for winter weeds to germinate).  Various fertilizers such as; 16-00-08, 15-00-15, 00-00-07and 23-00-08 combined with preemergent will give your lawn and shrubs (don’t forget the shrubs!) one last feeding of nitrogen for the year while controlling the weeds.  Usually you will want to come back with another preemergent in 6-10 weeks depending on the products you use, the rate, and the weather conditions. 

Many leaves, of trees that lose their leaves for the winter, have started losing their chlorophyll and developing spots on the leaves. You should not have to treat these leaves with a fungicide for leaf spot because they are getting ready to fall off anyway; however, you might want to check and see if there is a cultural reason (wet area, dry area, herbicide applied in area, tree in full sun that should be in shade, improper fertility  …) that is causing these leaves to drop early.

Mosquito air attack! Fire ant mines! Don’t get me started….

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Transition in Your Yard

Horticulture Hotline
  Bill Lamson-Scribner 08/13/17

Treat for mosquitoes in your yard! Scout around your yard for potential breeding sights. It is amazing how many places that collect water and a mosquito can lay an egg. Old tarps, tarps on boats, saucers under flower pots, a dent in a trash can lid, old fountain, bird bath, tires, refrigerators, old cars, and even half - filled rain gauges all provide enough water to help mosquitoes breed. If you do not have time to do scout your yard, hire a professional, and they will help make your yard safe.

Eco Via is a new broad spectrum, NOP (National Organics Program) compliant product that will control mosquitoes. Mosquito Repelling Granular has a good residual and is organic. Cyonara and Bifen are broad spectrum insecticides and are very effective.    

Large Patch fungus has raised its ugly head again in the Lowcountry.  The decrease in daylight hours and rain have been great for Large Patch disease to kick in.  Water only as needed and apply T-Methyl or Fame.

Sharpen lawnmower blade?

If you have any bushes or trees that need to be transplanted, you can begin to prepare to root prune them.  Ideally if you transplant a tree you would have a ball that is 12 inches for each inch in diameter of the tree (i.e. 3 inch tree would be 18 inches on either side of the tree).  Take a shovel and dig straight down without prying and just sever the roots of the tree.  Depending on the size of the tree, whether it was planted or a volunteer seedling, how long it has been in the ground, and whether it is in a group of other plants, will dictate how big of a root ball you will be able to dig. Add some SeaHume and other rooting biostimulants to the area to encourage new roots.  Root prune now and for the next few months for transplanting in November-January.

It is getting close to the time to switch over from summer annuals (crops) to winter annuals (crops).  When amending your annual beds or garden this year try Back to Nature’s Flower Bed Conditioner.  It’s balanced blend of cotton burrs and cattle manure along with feather meal, cotton seed meal, alfalfa meal and sulfur will surely make your winter annuals a hit.  The alfalfa contains Triacantanol, a natural root growth enhancer and may aid in the control and suppression of certain fungal diseases.   Unlike wood and wood by-products, composted cotton burr and composted cattle manure do not tie up valuable nutrients in the soil and help neutralize the soils pH.  Cotton seed and feather meal provide added nutrients for the plant. If you are planting bulbs for next spring, consider using Back to Nature’s Flower Bed Amendments as well.

The change in weather will also bring on the winter annual weeds.  Now is the time to put out preemergents in your lawn as well as your beds. If you have had Florida Betony in the past, consider using a preemergent that contains Dimension. Many of our customers have noticed a decrease in Florida Betony in lawns that they have used Dimension in late August and again in October. Over ten years ago, I put out some test plots for Dow AgroSciences, and I saw about an 85% reduction in Florida Betony the first year! Dow AgroSciences did not add Florida Betony to the label because of the costs of dealing with the EPA; however, I say, “try it you‘ll like it!”

Watch out for mole crickets, grubs and sod web worms in your turf.  Mole crickets are just developing their wings and will begin their fall flights soon, which means they will be up near the surface tunneling (damaging) your grass. Grubs are near the surface and easy to kill before they become a food source for moles or damage your root system themselves.  Sod web worms and army worms can eat a huge amount of grass in a short period of time.  Look for moths as you walk around your lawn in the evening.  These moths will come up from the ground, fly erratically for a few feet, then land, almost like a quail.  Treat with Lebanon Insect Control or 07-00-14 Allectus and you will take care of both of these guys as well as fire ants and many other insects. 

Always read, follow and understand the product label before applying any products.

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at You can also call in your questions to “ The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker).