Monday, March 25, 2019

Dry or Wet - I Know What to Do

Horticulture Hotline 03/25/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Over the past few weeks during this dry spell, I have talked to two different customers with different situations that have had great success with one of my money saving products that I wrote about a while ago. The product is Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants.

My well needs a little attention, so I have been watering with city water. Having the reputation of being cheap, or as I prefer to think of it as being thrifty, saving money for the future, conserving water, managing runoff, or being more agronomically correct, I have been using Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants in my yard. The product has been working great! Too much rain, Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants helps dry the lawn. Too little rain, it helps keep the lawn wet. Just like a thermos knows whether to keep something hot or cold.

Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants is a water management product. Imagine a bunch of tiny microscopic little balloons that penetrate into your soil through the tiny cracks, absorb water, expand, relieve compaction , and then release the water slowly back to the plant. After about a month, these balloons begin to break down in the soil, like a helium balloon does in the atmosphere, then you reapply.

The first customer that thanked me for introducing her to Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants lived in a clay type soil. The first benefit she noticed was areas that stayed wet in the past seemed to dry out quicker. Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants (PWAB) let the water go into the ground instead of sitting on the surface. She also noticed that the water that flowed over the curb after a rain now stayed on her lawn. For hours or even days after a rain, her neighbors curb was wet while hers was dry. Strong evidence that her lawn was absorbing the water instead of it running down the storm drain.

Once the rains began to slow down, she began to notice the big savings in her pocket book. She went from watering Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for thirty minutes a zone down to Monday and Friday for 20 minutes a zone. In other words she went from watering a total of 90 minutes down to 40 minutes. She cut her watering in more than half!

Because of the clay soil she didn’t like to plant into the ground, so she had lots of containers and hanging baskets for color plants and a small herb garden. These plants also needed far less water. In our brutal heat some of her hanging baskets needed watering twice a day. Not anymore!

The other customer lives in a sandy soil area of the Lowcountry. He suffered from a large dry area on a hill and an annual bed that always dried out; however, the annuals were on a zone with turf so the turf was getting over watered to keep the annuals alive.

Through the monthly use of Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants, he was able to solve both problems without having to rework his irrigation system. He had been watering everyday for 30 minutes and has cut his watering to 3 times a week. On last report he was going to try to lower the minutes per watering. Another lowered water bill of over 50% and another better looking yard!

Less watering also means less disease and less expensive fungicides. This slow release watering can save you money on your water bill, help fertilizer work better, lessen compaction, prevent runoff into storm water drains that go to our marshes, grow deeper roots, develop healthier plants that can withstand stress better, and let me mention again save you money!

In parts of the country wetting agents are common knowledge because water is so expensive. Around here golf course superintendents use this product on greens for hotspots or on steep bunkers (especially if made of sand) that dry out quickly.

Give Possum’s Wetting Agent with Biostimulants a try. We have been told the water bill savings more than pays for the product and the other benefits are a bonus!

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

What is that Growing on my Tree?

Horticulture Hotline 03/18/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner


On the bark of my Crepe Myrtles, I noticed grayish growth.  I can peel this growth off fairly easily.  What is this growth and is it hurting my tree?

I have been asked some form of this question in Possum’s, on the radio, and at an oyster roast in the last month. It sounds like you have lichens.  Lichens are grayish-green organisms that are a cross between fungi and algae.  They make their own food and collect their own water and minerals, so technically they do not harm the plant or tree on which they are growing.

Since lichens manufacture their own food through photosynthesis, a healthy actively growing plant or tree is the best defense against lichens. If the tree or shrub has a thick canopy, the lichens will not survive since they need sunlight to manufacture their food. Culturally, the plant must be planted in an area that provides the conditions that the plant can thrive, so it produces a dense canopy that will shade out the lichens. Proper fertilization based on soil tests and proper pruning will help to keep the canopy thick. 
Think of trying to grow grass under the thick canopy of a tree – the grass needs sunlight like the lichens and will not grow in the shade.

Although lichens do not hurt the plant, it could be a sign that the plant is in a very moist area or in an area that is not getting good air movement. Any area that is not ideal for plant growth can contribute to lichen growth. A shady area for Crepe Myrtles will also cause the lichens to flourish.

Lichens thrive in these conditions which are not very favorable for plant growth.  With our on-again, off-again rain, it is hard to control these moist conditions.  If you have an irrigation system, be sure you are not over-watering, as this contributes to the problem.  Irrigation systems are great; however, if over used can cause great problems in the landscape.  Large patch fungus and lichens could be a couple of examples of over-watering issues. 

The best control for lichens is cultural controls. Try to minimize the moisture in the soil and maximize air movement around the plants and trees.  Pruning to increase air movement will help dry the soil.  Excessive mulch whether fallen leaves, pine straw or wood mulch will keep moisture high in this area and should be limited to 2-3 inches in depth. A good fertility program derived from a soil test helps a whole bunch.

Lichens, although a bit unsightly, do not harm the plant, so if you can’t get the moisture out of the area because of large trees, it may be something you just have to live with.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that lives in our trees.  It manufactures its own food; however, it has root-like growth that penetrates the bark and collects minerals and water from the host tree.  If left to grow, it will eventually kill the host tree.  It has seeds that birds eat and spread.  These seeds also get under the soft bark and germinate spreading the parasitic plant.

Wet fall means fleas. Protect your buddy!

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Spring Checklist

Horticulture Hotline 03/11/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

While walking my dog, I noticed it is time to mow down the Liriope. Hedge shears or a lawn mower with a sharp blade is great for doing this.  Holly fern and cast-iron plant will also benefit from cutting back to remove old discolored foliage. I do not know why, but I can convince people to cut back their Liriope; however, trying to get them to cut back holly fern and cast-iron plant is not as easy. I see more people pruning individual leaves than just cutting the whole plant back to the crown. The complete new growth from the cast iron plant and the holly fern will look as spectacular as the new growth from the Liriope. Get rid of all that tattered old foliage!  

Control small seeded annual summer weeds now with a preemergent product. Enough said!

Soil Test? Bring them to Possum’s for accurate testing and an easy to follow interpretation of the results.

We are about ready to be able to prune back our cold damaged plants. Wait about another week or two and see if you can see any new growth emerging. We should be passed the last frost date (no crystal ball here), and your plants should (hopefully) have some visible new growth. The Sago’s can be pruned now. Be sure to fertilize with 07-00-09 Possum Palm Fertilizer, so the new growth looks it’s best. Or better yet take a soil test and see exactly what your plant needs for nutrition.

After you have done some ‘Spring Cleaning’, SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost with their loaded micronutrients and biostimulants should help your plants and turf come out of dormancy healthy.

Re-cut and redefine your bed lines. Bed lines are a basic element of landscape design.  They define your landscape. Well defined bed lines with just mulch can be very attractive even without plants. Bed lines can be defined by a clean trench with a shovel, wood, brick or steel edging. Plants grow, so bed lines need to be re-defined periodically. If you have brick or steel edging, this may require that you remove plants instead of just redefining the bed line. 

Do not prune any spring flowering plants unless you want to sacrifice the flowers.

As temperatures allow spray your trees and shrubs with dormant oil sprays. These products will kill over-wintering insects and keep them from munching on your new spring foliage. Neem oil works great on some diseases as well.

If you have plants like Camellias (scale), Gardenias (white flies), Crepe Myrtles (aphids), Lantana (lace bugs) or any other plant that you know regularly turns black from sooty mold, consider drenching with Dominion Tree and Shrub for season long control of sucking insects. This systemic product is awesome!

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