Monday, June 24, 2019

Myths and More

Horticulture Hotline 06/24/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

With the rain came the mosquitoes. Most of us that work outside like to get out early in the morning or late in the evening; unfortunately, that is when the mosquitoes are the most active. Cover up and protect yourself! Fleas have become a leaped into full swing. Big Palmetto Bugs (roaches) have moved into the house where the air conditioning is. Lace Bugs have shut down the blooming on the Lantana in several cases I have seen. Chinch bugs and gray leaf spot are making their perennial attack on St. Augustine (Charleston) grass. MOLES are very active as mole crickets just had babies, so there is plenty of sweet little baby mole crickets to feast on in your yard.

Something else that the rain ‘brings’ takes me straight to the first myth:

1.      Myth – “the rain brought fire ants to my yard. After the rain, I now have fire ant mounds everywhere.”

The fire ants have always been in your yard. In a super drought like we had there is not enough moisture in the soil for the ant to build the above ground mound that we are all use to seeing. Did you feel how dusty dry our soils were getting before the rain?  Ants are still below ground and they are still foraging for food above ground. Many people get stung when there is not a mound formed because the mound indicates there are ants in the area.

2.      Myth – “I’m not going to feed (fertilize) my shrubs because I don’t want to have to prune them.”

This is not a good idea. It would have been like my mother saying when I was 16 that she wasn’t going to feed me anymore because I was 6’4”, and she was tired of buying clothes and tennis shoes!
Plants need food to recover from insect damage, prevent disease, and to stay healthy. If you don’t want to prune, look into growth regulators that will help you manage the height of your shrubs. Also when designing your landscape, try to put plants in areas so they do not require much pruning. For example use a dwarf gardenia if you want a plant to mature at 3 feet instead of a regular gardenia that you will need to prune regularly.

Monday, June 17, 2019


Horticulture Hotline 06/17/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

I had a few more myths I was going to write about this morning; however, after being attacked by mosquitoes Saturday morning while trying to help my mother read and follow product label, I decided after that rain (flooding) and full moon tides the mosquito must go. The dry windy spring kept the mosquitoes at bay, but they are out in full force now looking for that blood meal.

Chikungunya, Dengue (still in the tropics), Zika, West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis … 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 protected and 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 Swatter, 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, event planners, weddings, 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.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Japanese Beetles

Horticulture Hotline 06/10/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Japanese Beetles have emerged from the ground and are munching down on our ornamental plants like there is no tomorrow, leaving behind lacelike foliage everywhere they dine. The warm weather has also caused the cockroach to move inside for a little air conditioning (can you blame them?) and the calls are rolling in about chinch bugs and fleas.

Japanese Beetles come out of the ground here around the beginning of June (as you probably noticed) as beetles. In parts of the country, they are the number one damaging insect to ornamentals, and they seem to be gaining a stronghold in the Lowcountry. As recent as five years ago, I can remember talking to friends in Charlotte, whose plants were getting devastated by this ferocious eater, and they would say how lucky we were not to have them down here in the Lowcountry. Roses and Crepe Myrtles are some of their favorite plants.

Once the Japanese Beetles come out of the ground, they eat and mate. A female returns to the ground to deposit between 40 and 60 eggs (you can see how the populations can grow rapidly). The female beetle must burrow in the ground to lay eggs and the eggs need moisture to survive. A well-irrigated landscape is a lot easier for the beetle to dig in than a dry, hard, area. The adult beetle dies off and the eggs turn into grubs over the summer. By mid to late August, the grub is full-grown and overwinters in the soil. In late May to early June, the adult (beetle) emerges again and the life cycle starts over.  

The grubs from this beetle damage grass and other plants by eating the roots. Using a product like Grubz Out or Sevin in late August or early September (if your grub populations warrant treating) or in April will help your turf; however, do not fool yourself into thinking all your beetle problems will be solved.  The adult beetle can fly for miles to chow on your precious ornamentals! Milky Spore is an organic option that seems to do a good job now that our grub population is high enough for the spores to have a steady food source.

Using a ground drench systemic insecticide in the early spring like Dominion will help protect your plants, and you might get lucky and kill a few grubs while you are drenching! Once the beetles are eating your plants, use a good contact insecticide to kill them. Cyonara and EcoVia EC (National Organics Program Compliant) are two of the many products that will help control these beetles. Since contact insecticides have limited residual activity, plan to reapply the product according to the label.

Traps for Japanese Beetles are a little controversial. The attractants they use (one is a virgin female beetle scent) can lure more beetles to an area than the trap can trap! Many ornamentals on the way to the trap and near the trap can suffer extensive damage.

Roaches, fleas, mice, and chinch bugs are becoming uninvited guest in many homes and yards. Are you protected from these unwelcome guests?