Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Winding Up 2020


Horticulture Hotline 12/29/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


These high humidity days have really kicked in the Large Patch (Brown Patch) fungus disease. Strobe or T-Methyl are 2 good systemic fungicides to apply now.


As the leaves from the trees in your yard fall, be sure to rake them up (consider composting them) or mulch them with a mower.


Look up into your trees and see if any limbs are damaged. Those big, broken but hanging on limbs are called “widow makers” in the industry for a reason! As time passes, the torn wood that is holding the limb on loses more water making the limb more brittle and has a better chance of falling.


If you think you might want to transplant a tree or bush in the spring, now is the time to root prune for an easy move.


Moles have been tunneling looking for food. They must overeat during the holidays also!


Visit Charleston County Park’s Holiday Festival of Lights with friends and family. The Holiday Festival of Lights is one of the best in the Nation and always improving.


Our city, town, county, state and national parks have a lot to offer. The different plantations also provide great landscape interest with the camellias, holly berries, and all the other winter color.


Winter weeds are popping up everywhere. Control them while they are young and they are in their vegetative growth stage. Once the weeds start producing seed and enter their reproductive stage, they are much harder to control.

Now is a great time to test your soil and get on a Possum's Custom Program or buy a gift certificate for someone else to get on a custom program. The time is now to beat the spring rush. Prevention and protection are so important in this area. I don’t know of any part of the world that is harder to maintain a beautiful yard! Our insects and fungi are relentless.

Any bare areas in the lawn should be teased with cotton burr compost, so the grass will fill in. Weeds love to move in on thin turf.


Rats, roaches and mice are moving into homes away from the cold.


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


Monday, December 21, 2020

United States Most Popular "Flowering Plant"

Horticulture Hotline 12/21/20

  Bill Lamson-Scribner 


Little did Joel Poinsett know that when he brought the first Poinsettia back from Mexico that it would become the United States most popular “flowering plant”.  Joel Poinsett, a South Carolinian, was the first ambassador to Mexico. There is a Historic Marker for him in Otranto, SC (an area in North Charleston).  In 1825 he introduced the Poinsettia to the United States.  These plant sales top over 70 million each year.  The dollar value is much greater.  If you ever have a chance to visit a whole sale nursery while the Poinsettia crop is being grown, it is a site you will not forget! 


How can you force the Poinsettia to “bloom” before next Christmas? I have bloom and flowering in quotes, because Poinsettias are mainly grown because of its colorful bracts, not flowers.


After Christmas in the Lowcountry, you can put the plants outdoors as long as the weather is not going to get too cold. In the early days of “The Garden Clinic”, Lowcountry radio legend Dan Moon used to boast how he kicked his Poinsettia off his back porch by his A/C and how it grew into a monster Poinsettia. Poinsettias do not like to be in direct sunlight, so place them in a protected area. Some people like the garage. Filtered light is good.


To force the bracts to change color beginning in early October, keep the plant in total darkness for 14 hours straight.  After the 14 hours of darkness, the plant must receive 6-8 hours of bright sunlight daily for 8-10 weeks.  Depending on the variety of Poinsettia you should see the bracts change color.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to place the plant in a dark room with a grow light and a timer. This way you don’t have to adjust your schedule to care for the plant.  My little secret is to support the local nurseries and buy new plants each year!


Unfortunately, this cool, wet weather is bringing out the Large Patch in our turf.  Be sure to treat the areas before it goes into dormancy.  Now is also a good time to apply horticulture oil or Neem Oil for over-wintering insects. Neem oil will control certain fungi too. Winter weeds are visible now. Control them now while they are young and actively growing. Your results will be much better. 


Judging from our sales at Possum’s, fleas seem to still be an issue for our pets, and the rats, roaches and mice are seeking shelter from the rain and cold. I’m sure you don’t want any uninvited guest for the holidays!


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



Monday, December 14, 2020

Gifts for the Gardener

Horticulture Hotline 12/14/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Does it seem like your free time is spent doing maintenance yard work around the house?  You work long hours all week, and then on the weekend instead of spending time with your family, shopping, on the boat, on the golf course, hunting, etc., you are spending it pushing a lawn mower inhaling that blue smoke?  Give yourself a lawn care company for a year and enjoy your time off doing what you like to do.  You can still spend time in the yard doing specialty things; just get rid of the mowing, edging, control product applying and blowing.  Also consider hiring professionals to do other house maintenance (power washing, painting….). The gift of free time is awesome! 


Plan a trip to a local public garden (for example Magnolia Plantation, Middleton, Boone Hall, Drayton Hall, Charles Towne Landing, the many county parks – be sure to take in the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park, or Hampton Park) and get ideas for your own landscape.  This also makes for a wonderful day with the family.  You can take a picnic lunch and make it a full day enjoying the beauty of the Lowcountry. Many of these parks you can buy a yearly pass for just a little more than a onetime visit and enjoy the park throughout the year. The gift of doing some social distancing in a place unique, ever changing and special to the Lowcountry is awesome!


If you would like to take a road trip, travel to Brookgreen Gardens by Myrtle Beach, or Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. You can also give a gardener a trip out of the area for a long-distance gardening adventure.  Calloway Gardens in Atlanta, Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, The National Arboretum outside of Washington, D.C., The Redwoods in California or any other garden throughout the United States…. or anywhere in the world!

There are some awesome gardens out there! Check Covid-19 restrictions. The first time I used the ‘fine print’ in over 30 years of writing the Horticulture Hotline!


Give a gardener a gift certificate for a future Home and Garden Tour event.  There are great tour events throughout the year in areas all over the Lowcountry.  Kiawah, Seabrook, Daniel Island, City of Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant all have different garden tours.  If you want to go on a road trip, Savannah and Beaufort also have garden tours. Seeing what other landscape ideas do well in the Lowcountry is awesome!  Check Covid-19 restrictions


Give your gardener a membership to one of the many clubs or societies in the Charleston area. The Rose Society, The Charleston Horticultural Society, The Native Plant Society, The Camellia Society, The Koi Fish Club and Daylily Society just to name a few.  I have attended many of these club’s lectures.  They are all very informative and are passionate about their interests, willing to help newcomers, and provide different community projects to improve the Lowcountry.  I have run into many old friends and have made many new friends at these meetings. Gaining knowledge about a topic you are interested in is awesome! Check Covid-19 restrictions


Books (different Universities sell very informative books at very good prices), quality hand tools (especially pruners and pruning saws), cuttings from your garden, a plant, tree, or bulbs, or something you have canned from your garden, all make awesome gifts!


A gift certificate to any of the local garden centers or nurseries makes an excellent choice for the garden enthusiast.   They are bound to find something they want and you don’t have to worry about whether they will like the gift. Now that’s awesome!