Monday, November 30, 2020

Something Good To Know


Horticulture Hotline 11/30/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


This weather is crazy. I can’t decide whether to run the heat or the air conditioner! This type of weather is why our grass can not decide whether to go dormant or continue to grow. The rain continues and so does the Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch. Hopefully, the cooler weather will make the environmental conditions part of the ‘disease triangle’ less of a factor. Of course, the cooler weather will make the rats, mice and roaches come inside out of the elements.


Knowing the square footage of your grass areas and bed areas are key to applying any fertilizer or control product correctly. Whenever we sell a bag of fertilizer at Possum’s we are going to ask, “how big is your yard?” You have to know if you need one bag or more than one bag. Some of our bags might be able to treat your yard twice. That is nice to know because that cuts the price per application in half, and also lets you know you still have product waiting in the garage for your next application. With the nice weather we are having, now is a great time to get out there and measure the yard.


I can remember several times hearing different variations of this same answer to my question while at the counter at Possum’s. “How many square feet is your yard?” Rough answer,” well, last year I put out that bag that covers 5000 square feet and it was perfect for my yard, so I must have 5000 square feet.”  Sorry, wrong answer.


Based on a pound of nitrogen, we sell 50 pound bags that cover as much as 23,000 square feet and as little as 1000 square feet. Unfortunately, the bag does not know the size of our yards or how fast we walk.


In the old days, yards were mostly square or rectangular, and they were easy to measure. Now most yards have curvy bed lines that sweep across the landscape, making them more difficult to measure. If you can break the yard up into little squares or rectangles, and measure the length and the width then you can get your square footage. Length multiplied by width will give you your square footage. Add up all the squares and rectangles that you measured the square feet of, and you will come up with the square footage of your yard.


If this sounds like total “Greek or Geek” to you, ask a landscaper, a realtor,  a landscape architect, someone that works with floors or carpets, an engineer, a construction worker, someone who pours driveways, or anyone else that regularly needs to measure the square footage of something to help you. Your plat map from when you purchased your house might help as well.


Now, there are even websites that you can log onto and they will tell you the square footage of your yard. Of course, I like to do it the old fashion way – length times width.


I know this measuring seems like a pain, but most of us stay in a house for several years or decades. A little pain spread over several years of having very useful information is worth it.


Once you measure the yard, put the measurements in about 5 to 10 locations throughout your house, your car (so you have it with you when you go to buy product) and the garage, so you do not lose them. I have learned over the years that I put information like that in one “special place” so I do not lose the information. I then forget where that “special place” is!


Monday, November 23, 2020

Color in the Lowcounrty and that Rampant Disease


Horticulture Hotline 11/23/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


The Lowcountry – what a beautiful place! We have a different fall color than many areas of the country, and the wonderful fragrance of Tea Olives as a bonus. Our fall color is not limited by the color of falling leaves. Our fall color comes in the form of berries, fruit, bark, grasses, foliage, and flowers. There is one not so pleasant color showing up in our turfgrass that needs to be addressed.


Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch are still very much an issue on our warm season grasses. Diseases need a susceptible host (your grass), the disease present (Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch is in the soil), and the correct environmental conditions (temperature, moisture). These three parameters are often called the ‘Disease Triangle.’ The environmental conditions part of this triangle has been off the chart this year. The weather that has been perfect for us to be outside has been perfect for the disease to flourish.


I like to look at the ‘disease triangle’ as a three-legged stool. If you can take away one leg, the disease / stool will fall. Your grass is not something you want to remove; however, you can keep it healthy (proper fertilization via soil testing, proper mowing height, healthy soil, manage low areas that collect water and thatch free.)


The environment is very difficult to control. Managing your watering would be the only easy thing to do with this leg of the stool. Temperature and rainfall are a little more difficult to control.


The disease in this case is pretty hard to deal with because it is in the soil. We (Possum’s) get reports from customers that using SeaHume and Cotton Burr Compost lowers the disease pressure in their lawn. In this case the good fungi are competing with the bad fungi. Fungicides are also work. When the weather conditions stay so perfect for the disease, multiple applications are required.


I don’t like writing about something that I just wrote about 2 weeks ago (go to and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab for the 11/09/20 article), but this disease is running rampant!


The warm weather has lent itself to some nice color options in the Lowcountry. Many of my plants are blooming - Cassia is a bright yellow, Hibiscus (two colors), Bottlebrush (red), Lantana (multi), Milkweed (multi), Burford Holly Berries (red), Yaupon Hollies (iridescent red), Sasanqua Camellias (white) and Camellia Japonica (red and white). I also have brown backed Magnolia leaves that with the Camellias and the lemons off my lemon tree make a nice Thanksgiving arrangement. The warm weather has kept my Tea Olives smelling great!


My friend across the street has persimmon trees that have this cool red / orange fruit. The fruit appears after the leaves fall and from a distant look like plastic ornaments on the tree. They are tasty as well! I also saw some Pyracantha the other day. Beautiful berries but do have thorns. When I grew up people planted them and you learned quickly to stay away. Nowadays people probably just plant something else. Sweetgrass and ryegrass are jamming.


If you are planting pansies or snapdragons, be aware that these warm temperatures might make these plants more susceptible to disease. T-Methyl or Strobe should help you.


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


Monday, November 16, 2020

Holiday Time

Horticulture Hotline 11/16/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Another year has almost gone by. What a year! Covid, army worms, sod web worms, and now the largest large patch / brown patch / zoysia patch breakout on record! Does anyone / everyone have moles? Mole Crickets? Fire Ants?


This week I started seeing tents going up in parking lots and people wearing Christmas Hats, so I figured it was time for the yearly Christmas tree article.  


I’m looking forward to my trip through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. I understand things are going to be a little different this year; however, I’m sure I will be treated to another outstanding display of lights. If you’re a kid, does Christmas still seems like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me! 


I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree article out early, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas Tree Farm, find a local source for a cut tree, or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays, if you were so inclined.


After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree.  If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like an independently owned garden center.  If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Rotary Club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper or another local organization.  Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.


There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these Covid days.


Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year.  They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. I know I felt like a professional athlete, signing Possum gift certificates last week. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines.  The parking is free and plentiful this time of year.


Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb. Leyland Cypress have been removed from this list due to their disease issues.


Local tree farms are also an option. A ride in the country is always a good family event (young children, “how much longer will it take to get there?”).  Lebanon Christmas Tree Farm in Ridgeville and Toogoodoo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are some local tree farms.  Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself. 


If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off of the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb after the holidays.  Once you bring the tree home, cut an inch off of the bottom of the tree, and place the tree in a five-gallon bucket of water.  While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the leaves at a minimum. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house. 


Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace.  A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day.  Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors.  If you can, fill (2) one-gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water.  Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.  


There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh.  Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut at all times is the most important thing you can do for the tree.  The water conducting vessels quickly close up if the tree does not have constant water.  Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7-up and an aspirin in the water. You might want to save the aspirin if you drink Uncle Joe’s egg nog.  


Thank you for shopping at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply and for all of your letters, questions, comments when I meet you, and for reading “The Horticulture Hotline”!