Monday, January 28, 2019

I Hope You Are Ready!

Horticulture Hotline 01/28/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

The Saucer or Tulip Magnolias are blooming, which usually indicates spring is rapidly approaching. In NASCAR terms the pace car is pulling off the track onto pit row and the green flag is waving. If you are more of a swimmer or track person, the starter has said, “take your mark” and is squeezing the trigger. Yes, a new growing season has arrived! The red maples are tasseling, Sweetgum trees are blooming, some Prunus trees are showing color, brown patch / large patch is everywhere, and fresh fire ant mounds are visible.  

The soil temperature indicates that it is just about time to apply preemergent products to your beds and turf. Valentine’s Day and the running of the Daytona 500 are just around the corner. The time to apply the magical weed preventer is coming up fast.

Depending on which Phd doctor you believe, crabgrass germinates when the soil temperature (3 inches deep) stays above 55 degrees (some people say 57 degrees), for 3 straight days provided adequate moisture in the soil. Now some doctors say remains 57 degrees or above for 24 hours at a depth of 3 inches with adequate moisture.  The manufacturers of the preemergent products suggest that you apply the product 2 weeks before the temperatures are right, so you have to be able to predict the future. If you are not in to monitoring the soil temperature and do not have ESP (do people still use the term ESP), Valentine’s Day or the running of the Daytona 500 should work for you.  Spreading a preemergent product now could save hours of spot spraying later.

The turf areas as well as the landscape bed areas will greatly benefit from the use of preemerge products. Not only will the yard look better, but your plants will not have to compete with the weeds for sun, nutrients, and water. If you are controlling weeds with preemergent products, there are less weeds there for you to spray or pull, saving you time. There is also less stress on you trying to find time to control the weeds in your yard later once the weeds have emerged. Control them now with a preemergent control product!

For those new readers of the Horticulture Hotline, preemergent control products kill weeds as they germinate.  The weeds never come up and you never have to worry about them.  Crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyardgrass, crowfootgrass, dallisgrass (seedling), foxtail, annual bluegrass, smutgrass, barley, kikuyugrass, wild oats, bittercress, carpetweed, chickweed, Carolina geranium, henbit, knotweed, lespedeza, marestail, black medic, mustard, oxalis, pineappleweed, pigweed, redroot, parsley-piert, purslane, rocket, shephardspurse, speedwell, spurge, and woodsorrel are examples of weeds controlled by preemergent products.  Small seeded annual weeds are controlled by preemergent products.

Read the label of the specific product that you are using to get an exact list of weeds that the manufacturer has tested and shown to control. Preemergent products applied now do not control winter annual weeds that are already up like annual blue grass. To control annual bluegrass, you would have used a preemergent in August and again in October (this could vary with products and rates).

Clover, Florida Betony, Nutsedge and Dollar weed are not controlled by preemergent control products.  These are perennial weeds. Weed Free Zone is a liquid that will do a good job on controlling many of your broadleaf weeds. The Nutsedge will require a different product and is most likely not visible right now.  It is important to control these weeds now before they go into their reproductive stage.  A weed in its reproductive stage is harder to control than a weed in its vegetative stage. By controlling the weed now you avoid having to deal with more weed seeds next year.

It is very noticeable when you ride through the Lowcountry which homeowners and which businesses used preemergent products last fall at the correct time. One business or home lawn will be nice and brown and dormant without a spec of green in sight. Right next to it will be brown turf mixed with green weeds. Again, it is very important to control those weeds now before they begin to flower.

If you are trying to control weeds in the lawn that are up and starting to flower or seed, mow – wait 2 days and spray – then wait at least another 3 days before you mow again. The mowing will get the weeds actively growing and weeds that are actively growing are easier to kill. If the product is root absorbed, be careful around desirable plants, and water-in properly. If you water in too much, you could move the product passed the shallow root zone of the weed you are targeting.

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Clubs, Societies and Mole Crickets

Horticulture Hotline 01/21/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Alright, the holiday season is over and time to get back to the yard. In Charleston yard activities never really go away and that is a good thing. The moles and home invaders (roaches, rats, bed bugs, raccoons, squirrels and mice) are always active as well.

Although there is some cold weather in the forecast, the camellias have had a long run of warm weather and look beautiful. Hopefully, you have had a chance to witness these camellias in your yard, neighborhood, one of the parks or one of the public or private plantations. My New Year’s Day Feast of pork, collard greens, and hoppin john had a bowl of camellias as a center piece that looked fake because it was so perfect. This bowl of camellias was picture perfect and ready for any magazine spread!

James Island County Park (JICP) and the whole CCPRC pulled off another fabulous Light Show. I have been to several different light shows over the years in other towns and none of them hold a candle to JICP. I took my pound hound Ol’Boy there for his sixteenth birthday. He enjoyed the lights and sending pee-mail to all his dog friends!

With the new year upon us, have you considered joining an organization that is involved with horticulture? Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society has many Consulting Rosarians and some world class exhibitors that will help you with your roses. With new varieties (there are new varieties other than Knock Outs that are quickly being over used) and long lasting control products that you drench instead of spray, rose growing has become much less time consuming and is still very rewarding. This society is very friendly (I have never been bit – maybe stuck by a thorn) and has great refreshments before each meeting.

There are many great organizations and garden clubs in the area. Charleston Horticulture Society, Camellia Society, Native Plant Society, Daylily Society, Azalea Society, neighborhood or regional garden clubs just to name a few. I have been to many of these different societies and clubs and they are all very welcoming to guest and new members.

The crazy temperatures and rainfall has been the perfect storm for large patch / brown patch fungus. I have noticed it in yards I have never seen the disease before this year. If left untreated, the disease will thin out the turf and give opportunistic weeds a perfect area to establish residency. A healthy yard is the best defense against weed invasions.
Many people confuse this disease with the grass going dormant; however, if the grass is going dormant, it is a uniform color. When the grass has large patch / brown patch, you often see circles or other patterns where the disease is that are a different color. T-Methyl or Fame are good systemic products that will help you manage this disease.

Mole Crickets have also been tunneling near the surface on the warmer days. Like large patch / brown patch, mole crickets can do a lot of damage in the winter because they go undetected in the dormant grass. Intice Perimeter bait is very effective, organic and low cost.

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

Monday, January 14, 2019

We Ready, We Ready, We Ready For Spring

Horticulture Hotline 01/14/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Are you ready for the 2019 season in your yard?

Here are a few things to do on the nice winter days (you know Charleston, one day nice next day not so nice).

·        Get soil tested – how do you know what to apply if you don’t know what you have in the soil already. Do you have a well that could be adding salt to the landscape? Have you been flooded with salt water? If yes, be sure to test for sodium.
·        Kill winter weeds now while they are young and your grass is dormant.
·        Get ready to preemerge in February. Kill small seeded summer annual weeds before they take over your landscape. If you didn’t use a preemergent product in the fall, go ahead and use one now to stop any more winter weeds from germinating and to get a jump on crabgrass and other summer annual weeds.
·        Brown Patch / Large Patch is still very active in the Lowcountry. The heavy rains and warm temperatures have helped this disease persist.
·        With all the rain, identify areas that you need to work on drainage issues. There are some products that can make this job very easy.
·        Do you have Sweetgum Trees? Would you like to reduce those nasty spiny gumballs? Now is the time to use Snipper. Snipper will greatly reduce the number of balls your tree produces. Timing is crucial and the time is now
·        Take mower in to have serviced to beat the Spring rush. With the new ethanol gas lawn mower engines and other engines have had issues. No one likes their mechanic to tell them, “pick it up in 4 weeks.”
·        Keep leaves off lawn areas. Keeps moisture from being trapped and if you or your lawn service are applying products, you will have a more uniform coverage without the leaves.
·        Move any shrub or tree now before it is too late. Root prune now, move before they start putting on new growth. Try DieHard Transplant to help survival.
·         Spray trees and shrubs with paraffinic oil (ultra-fine, Omni Supreme oil) as opposed to petroleum oils (Volck) to control over-wintering insects. Watch temperatures. If you have ongoing issues with scale, aphids, white flies, or other sucking bugs, try Safari or Dominion for long term control. I like Neem oil because it works on diseases as well as insects.
·        Have you tried Lime / Sulfur spray around the ground of deciduous plants that get diseased (do not spray foliage – just the ground)? Roses and blueberries or any plant that gets leaf spot disease are good examples of plants that benefit from this sanitation practice.
·        Sharpen pruning tools or purchase new ones.
·        If you haven’t already, get your bulbs in the ground.
·        Apply SeaHume to turf, trees, flowers, and shrubs. Adding organics now will help in the spring. Cotton Burr Compost?
·        Re-do bed lines to reflect maturing landscape.
·        Get bird house ready for nesting birds.
·        Have moles, get Mole Patrol – it really works. After you use Mole Patrol, use a repellent like Repellex monthly to keep them out.
·        Have deer, get Deer Stopper – it really works.
·        Check irrigation or get on professional’s list to check. Be sure the heads are pointed the right way. Can you eliminate (turn off) the zone watering the shrubs and trees? Have you tried wetting agents to lower your water bill (we hear between 30 and 60 percent)? Less water equals less disease.
·        Prune Crepe Myrtles – don’t butcher them. Remove crossing (rubbing) limbs, inward growing limbs and diseased limbs. Topping or reducing their height is not considered proper pruning.
·        Hold off on pruning plants damaged by the cold – we could still have freezing temperatures.
·        Test well for salt, if you own a well.
·        Attend meetings of the Rose, Camellia, Horticultural Societies and other like horticultural societies.
·        Get out and enjoy our County, State and City parks as well as our local plantations.

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