Monday, May 28, 2018

Have you Been Slimed?

Horticulture Hotline 05/28/18

Is it natural or a coincidence? Just when the colleges and high schools let out for the summer, many of your lawns got “slimed” this past week! I have not seen any “TPed” houses; however, I have seen many lawns with cotton pieces in them. How about those termite swarmers?

Many people coming in to Possum’s are concerned over a black film over the leaf blades of grass. What you see is the fruiting body of a fungus that is decomposing thatch and other organic matter in the soil. When the fungus tries to reproduce, it sends it’s spores up the leaf blade of the grass where it is higher up in the air, so the wind will catch a spore more easily. With the spore up in the air, it will travel further also. This fungus is called slime mold.

Slime mold does not hurt the grass, except for the shading of the sun from the leaf surface where photosynthesis takes place. The weather was perfect for this mold to want to reproduce. Overcast, rainy and humid days are ideal conditions for this fungus.

 Since slime mold’s main purpose is to decompose organic matter in the soil and it really does not damage the grass, I have never recommended any chemical control for slime molds. I do suggest you spray it off of the leaf blades of your grass with a hose if you like. In a commercial setting or golf course (read and follow product label), you could use Protect DF.

All grasses are a susceptible host, but remember the spores are just using the grass like a ladder for a little elevation. Slime mold is helping to break down thatch and other organic matter, which is a good thing.

Mushrooms are also popping up in people’s lawn for many of the same reasons. Mushrooms do not hurt the yard typically and will go away when the environmental conditions change.

The environmental conditions are perfect for termite swarms also. If you see a bunch of winged insects flying around in your house or in your yard, contact the pest management company that has the bond on your house. Swarming termites could be a sign of a larger problem.

The cotton pieces in people’s yard are just people topdressing with cotton burr compost. The 2 cuft bags have been screened one more time than the 3 cuft bags, so you get less cotton balls. The benefits of topdressing with cotton burr compost will have to be another subject for another week. My column inches are running out fast.

With all the rain, I’m seeing some mighty hungry grass.

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

Time To Mow!

Mowing season has begun. Next time you are mowing your grass in 100 degree weather, or controlling weeds, insects, or diseases in your lawn remember the benefits of turf grass include:

·         soil erosion control;
·         stormwater runoff reduction;
·         organic pollutant decomposition;
·         groundwater recharge and filtration;
·         soil restoration;
·         carbon retention and storage;
·         natural cooling effect;
·         oxygen production;
·         air pollution reduction and filtration;
·         dust suppression / capture;
·         reduced pest and allergy related problems;
·         physical and mental health;
·         relief from stress;
·         human productivity;
·         noise abatement;
·         glare reduction;
·         heat dissipation;
·         increased property value;
·         complements landscaping;
·         quality of life;
·         crime control;
·         fire barrier;
·         recreation and social harmony;
·         community pride;
·         visible safety barrier from uninvited guest;
·         outdoor activity; and
·         spectator entertainment.

Healthy turf grass can capture four to seven times more carbon than is produced by the lawnmower’s engine, so feel good when you are caring for that lawn!

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

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). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Powdery Mildew, The Nasty Rascal, and Mosquitoes

Horticulture Hotline 05/14/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

With the cool, dry spring, I’m seeing a lot of powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungus that is a little different than most, since it likes cool nights and dry weather. Crepe Myrtles (especially the older varieties and Tuscarora), roses, dogwoods, sycamores, hydrangea, and Gerber daisies are just a few of the disease’s favorite host in the Lowcountry. I guess you could say it looks like you sprayed the leaves (usually new leaves) with water then sprinkled baby powder on them. Powdery mildew is easily controlled with Neem Oil (organic) and you might get some insects as a bonus. There are many other fungicides labelled for powdery mildew including Honor Guard (systemic).

Cool dry springs will also result in The Nasty Rascal – The Cinch Bug coming out early. If you have St. Augustine grass consider yourself warned. Keep an eye out in the hottest, sunniest parts of your yard – usually along the street, driveway, or sidewalks – for your grass going off color and drying out.

Chikungunya, Dengue (still in the tropics), Zika, West Nile Virus … 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. Mosquitoes & Gnats Are Gone, Cyonara Lawn and Garden, Mosquito Beater, 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 Mosquitoes & Gnats Are Gone to yourself. This product is organic and does an unbelievable job against mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums, ticks and other biting insects. Mosquitoes & Gnats Are Gone is non-greasy, DEET-free, and safe for the whole family. If you would rather go old school, Sprayon Insect Repellent II (23.75% Deet) or our 95% Deet Mosquito Repellent should do the trick. 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, an upside down 5 gallon bucket that has a lip that holds water, a trash can lid with a dent, brick work that needs repointing, 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 or wood pile can have many pockets that hold water. Sagging gutters hold water.  A few empty bottles or cans can end up being thousands of mosquitoes! A bottle cap can be a breeding area. Many mosquitoes can breed in just an ounce of water. I was at a seminar and the speaker was encouraging people to limb up Magnolias (every horticulturalist gasped) so you could easily rake up the leaves because the big leaves held water and therefore were a breeding spot for mosquitoes.

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 include a growth regulator like Pivot or Nyguard, your control will last much longer.

If you would like to stay organic apply Mosquito Beater or Mosquito Repelling Granules. These organic products really do a great job. They are 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 these products to people putting on large fundraisers, other outdoor festivals, sporting events, and individuals. 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.