Monday, September 23, 2019

A Little Taste of Fall

Horticulture Hotline 09/23/19

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.  These lists are not designed to interfere with high school, college, or professional football games, sunset boating, shrimping, hunting, golfing, eating chicken wings at a local sports bar, oyster roasts, collecting oysters or clams from the local waters, or watching NASCAR on the couch with closed eyes! Shopping the sales (saving money), getting a foot massage, and going to the movies should not be interfered with.  This is not designed to be a “honey do” list.

Hurricane Dorian came by the Charleston area about three weeks ago. Now is the perfect time to look up into your trees (and your neighbors if their trees hang over into your yard) and look for broken off limbs that are hanging over your yard. The broken off limb’s leaves should have turned brown by now and be very visible against the green leaves of the tree.

The reason why this is the perfect time is because if your trees are deciduous (leaves fall off in winter) you won’t have the brown versus green contrast. Rain has been spotty since the storm. Be sure to water. Watch for worm damage and mole crickets.

Many of you will be changing out annual color in the next few weeks. While the beds are empty, you have to chance to amend your soil for better flower production and address any drainage problems. If the bed stays wet, this is a good time to raise it with the addition of soil or amendments. You can also crown the bed so it drains off to the sides.

Back To Natures’ Flower Bed Amendment has proven to do a superb job in our Lowcountry soils. The special blend of composted cotton burrs, composted cattle manure, feather meal, cottonseed meal, and alfalfa meal has the best of gardeners coming back for more. Alfalfa contains Triacantanol, a natural growth enhancer, and is high in organic Nitrogen to get your plants growing. Flower Bed amendment may also help in the suppression and control of certain fungal diseases.

Here is what Dr. Herman Daniell had to say about his experience with the product, “The cotton burr flower bed mulch with amendments has been a superior product for my rose garden. I have had healthier bushes with more blooms since I began using this product.”

Many of you will also be changing out containers, hanging baskets and potted plants. If your plants are in an exposed place requiring daily watering, consider adding soil moist or other water holding gels to your soil. These gels and the use of a wetting agent like Aqueduct can make your life much easier. If you go away for the weekend, your plants will hardly miss you.

If you applied preemergent herbicides in August, put your follow up application out eight to ten weeks later. We have a very long season for weed seeds to germinate here, so you must keep that protective barrier in place. Up North the soil gets too cold for the winter weeds to germinate after a short window of time; however, here the window of opportunity for those pesky winter weeds stays open much longer.

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Few Things To Look For...

Horticulture Hotline 09/16/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

During Dorian many limbs were blown off tearing the bark of the tree as they fell. Clean up those cuts either yourself or hire a professional. Bark peeled down the side of a tree or shrub is an open invitation for insects and disease. Also the large opening creates a bigger area to heal.

If you are planning on transplanting a tree this fall, now is the time to root prune.  For root pruning trees, a good rule of thumb is for every inch in diameter of tree, you want twelve inches of root ball.  Sometimes this is not practical because you are usually transplanting an over-crowded tree or a tree located too close to a house or sidewalk.  At this point outline the biggest ball you can possibly move and just dig straight down severing the roots without actually removing the soil. Treat this ball area with DieHard Transplant and SeaHume to encourage young white root growth and beneficial fungi in this area.  

Come back in a month and dig away from the area that you severed leaving your tree in a little moat.  Spray the tree with Transfilm (anti-transparent) and wait another month then remove the tree. Use DieHard Transplant in the new hole.

When you plant the tree in its new home, be sure it is planted at the same grade that it was growing before you moved it or a little higher. I like to plant higher than existing grade because the soil seems to settle. Many tree problems are associated with being planted too deep.

Brown Patch Fungus is in the ready attack mode. The shorter days, moisture and finally the cooler weather on the way will give this fungus all the conditions it likes to destroy the yard you worked hard on all summer. Apply fungicides before you have an active fungus for best results – like humans and the flu shot!

Scout your yard for sod webworms and army worms. It is amazing with 3 stores (Possum’s) the stories you hear from lawn care people and homeowners about these worms. They can eat so much so fast it is amazing. Whether it is the professional or the DIY homeowner that has worked hard all summer to grow a uniform stand of turf, the sod webworm just doesn’t seem to care.

To scout for this varmint, look for scalped grass that has bite marks on the leaf blade. Moths flying around in a zigzag pattern in and out of the turf at dust is also a dead giveaway.

Scale, aphids, mealy bugs and lace bugs are still out there sucking the life out of your plants. Evergreens you could use a drench product like Dominion. If your plant or tree is losing leaves for the winter, horticultural oil might be a better choice, depending on the infestation. Lantana, Valley Forge Elm, Sweet Grass, Azalea, Camellia, and Hollies are under attack.

Winterizing your turf and shrubs should also be considered. No one likes to go to sleep hungry! Possum Minors, 00-00-25 Sulfate of Potash + minors, SeaHume, Cotton Burr Compost and / or Excell are a few excellent options. Watch out for the national marketing campaigns that promote products that were not designed to be used in this area.

I’m sure you have put out one round of preemergent herbicide by now for winter weed control in your beds and turf. If not, better late than never. Weed seeds germinate pretty much all year here.

If you are changing out flowers in containers or hanging baskets, consider incorporating HydroStretch or Hort-a-Sorb. These products help manage water and your plants will not dry out so fast.

Roaches, moles, fleas, mice, rats, mole crickets, fire ants?

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

Monday, September 9, 2019

Hurricane Dorian

Horticulture Hotline 09/07/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner          

“Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away”                       
Gimme Shelter  -  The Rolling Stones
Song writers: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

I have family in Florida just above Ft Lauderdale, so that slow moving Dorian almost drove me crazy. I was checking that weather off and on (drives me crazy to watch especially since I always have work to do) since about 8/26/19 when there were 180 mph 70 miles East of Ft Lauderdale until my power went out 9/5/19 around 2:00 am. With the track and the slow speed I think that is the longest I was aware of a single hurricane. The weirdest thing about a hurricane is you almost have to wish it on your neighbor to the north of you or to the south of you. What a crazy slow moving storm. I was surprised with so much of it over the land that it didn’t weaken more. I guess the warm Gulf Stream kept it fueled.

If the storm’s threat or the aftermath of the storm got you to look up into your trees for broken limbs, diseased limbs, limbs with cavities, or heavy overhanging limbs, then the storm did some good. Inspect your trees closely for “widow makers”. Gravity will pull these limbs that are hanging in the trees down to the ground, and hopefully, you or your loved ones are not between the ground and the tree that they are hanging out of. Getting a tree care professional out to your house is always a good idea. Remember most injuries and deaths occur during cleanup.

Use local tree people to work on your trees. After Hugo, I saw many safe trees that were removed that could have been left to grow. Some could have been straightened and braced. Trees take a long time to grow, so you do not necessarily have to remove them if they have a little lean. The topping of trees after Hugo was also ridiculous. Again a reputable, local, insured tree care professional should come inspect your trees for dangerous situations.

Be sure to listen to “The Garden Clinic” every Saturday and especially this Saturday from noon until 1:00 pm on 1250 WTMA. Paul Mulkey (AKA Super Garden Hero) the owner of The Tree Clinic will be glad to take questions about your trees and share his over 30 years of experience (he is getting old!)! If you are not available Saturday, “The Garden Clinic” is replayed on WTMA Sunday from 11:00 am until noon.

Salt was the biggest issue with flooding the last few years, and it appears that for many of you, salt is going to be a main issue again. Gypsum, Salt Free, Excell, SeaHume G, ProMag and a soil test that test for Sodium provide the road map for the recovery of your landscape. You would want to take a soil test first so you know where your starting point is, then you could immediately apply products to mitigate the salt damage (keep track of what you use and at what rates so when your soil test results come back you will know what you have already applied). At Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply we can help you through this process and help you with directions on taking a soil test and using these products.     

Although it is still 90 degrees, the daylight hours are getting shorter and the start of football are making the weather feel like fall is not too far away. Worms eating the grass and chinch bugs sucking the grass are still in full force. The worms love the cloudy weather we have had because the birds and the wasps that feed on them cannot see them as easily. I noticed and the white flowers of Virginia Buttonweed are visible peeking through the foliage of the turf grass. Protect your grass from fungus by applying Fame or T-Methyl. Fungicides work best if used before you have a fungus (like the flu shot for us).

Preemergent herbicides for the lawn and beds now will make your spring landscape much nicer. Treating your lawn and beds with Cyonora will keep mosquitoes, fleas, roaches, and other pests from bothering your pets, your lawn, your shrubs, or yourself.

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