Monday, April 26, 2021

They are Small But They Stab You (In This Picture You Can See The Dagger)


Horticulture Hotline 04/26/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Fall of 2020 we had a bunch of rain. We also had those very high tides (King’s Tides?) on a regular basis. Like a common grassy weed with a white seed head that maintains a huge seedbank in the soil and that is plaguing many of your yards, the mosquito has been increasing their numbers preparing for a major assault.  I decided after the rain that we waited on for a month and ‘Pink’ Supermoon 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 dog’s 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, so it is more important to treat bed areas than it is to treat lawn areas. Many mosquito products work on lawn pest also, so many folks treat their lawn too while they are spraying. Mosquitoes are very weak fliers, so they do not like wind or air movement (big fans for parties or by your grill – helps with flies too). Mosquitoes are a public health issue, so you might be able to get some help from a government agency if you have a big ditch or pond.


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. DuraFlex and ProFlex are two products with growth regulators ‘built in’ that will increase your intervals between applications.


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, April 19, 2021

The Weather!? Bottlebrush


Horticulture Hotline  04/19/21

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


The weather is crazy! Last fall was super wet. I saw the worst cases of large patch disease I had ever seen, which usually translates to bad large patch (brown patch) in the spring. Now we are having cool nights and little to no rain, so I am seeing the least amount of the disease I have ever seen for this time of year. Crazy! Mole Crickets seemed to have stepped up their game and are very visible during their mating season just to insure the Lowcountry is the hardest place in the world to grow grass.


I would like to talk about the plant that suffered with the cold weather of 2018. The Red Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus) plant has gained great popularity over the past 20 years in the Lowcountry.  It is pretty much at the upper end of its hardiness zone, which means with very cold temperatures it can get some cold damage. This plant has also shown to release a natural herbicide that has been registered with the EPA for home use. The label is very narrow, so read the label closely to see if it is a fit for your situation. It is amazing how many products are being derived from things in nature these days.


The bottlebrush makes a great screen.  It has small leaves that can buffer a lot of sound and visual pollution.  The plant can be used as an accent plant, in a container, or in a large buffer.  Using bottlebrush as a screen gives you good screening and good color with the flowers.  So many of our plant materials used for screening do not have showy flowers. Be sure to blend in some cold hardy plants, if you are using bottlebrush as a screen, in case we have that killing chill your buffer will not be totally lost.


Hummingbirds, people, and butterflies attract to the beautiful bottlebrush shaped flowers.  I have had so many hummingbirds around my bottlebrush that they looked like honey bees!  Butterflies enjoy the nectar from the bottlebrush and add movement and color to your garden. 


Currently the bottlebrush has little to no insect or disease problems in this area.  They are very heat and drought tolerant and are almost considered a weed in Florida.  Unlike azaleas and camellias, they can handle sandy, low moisture, and low organic matter soils.  They are also salt tolerant which means they can be used around the beach or other salt water-front areas. 


A scientist working for Syngenta noticed that certain weeds didn’t grow near his bottlebrush.  He isolated a chemical in the soil that was released from the bottlebrush plant that actually kills weeds.  Syngenta has developed this into a new product, Tenacity, which has EPA registration. This product is not meant for everyone, so read the label closely before you decide to purchase Tenacity. This product is also sold under the name Meso.


I had bottlebrush in my yard for over twenty years without any ill effects from the cold. In 2018, they did take a hit, but they are looking good now. The bottlebrush is a great addition to the Lowcountry landscape!


Things are happening in the landscape. Are you ready? Remember this is next year for your soil test!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Bee, Butterflies, and Hummingbirds - The Pollinators


Horticulture Hotline 04/13/21

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


Last week was The Masters. Are you inspired by the golf and want to hit some balls? Are you inspired by the beauty of the landscape and want to work in the yard? Or both? It is inspiring!


Attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to a landscape adds a whole different dimension to your landscape, while helping pollinators. The movement and pretty colors add excitement to the landscape. Who can look at a hummingbird that is feeding at a hummingbird feeder and not call others in the house to observe or now days take out their phone and try to video the little rascal?


There are many plants that will attract butterflies.  The ones I’m going to recommend will give you the bonus of attracting hummingbirds and bees as well.  I’ve had all of these plants in my yard and they do very well in the Lowcountry with a minimal amount of care. 


One of the first plants that come to mind is the Butterfly Weed.  The monarch butterfly lays its eggs on this plant and when the caterpillars come out, they will devour the foliage.  Do not spray insecticides!  The foliage will come back quickly and you don’t want to kill the larva of the monarch butterfly.  This plant is not a perennial; however, it reseeds itself.   When it pops up elsewhere in your yard, you can either replant it where you originally had it or leave it where it popped up. You can also collect the seeds and plant them where you originally had them or give them away to friends. Some people think it is neat watching the large caterpillars chow down on the plant and others are afraid of the big caterpillars.  This plant provides an important host plant of the Monarch Butterfly’s life cycle and will guarantee you will get plenty of butterflies and bees as a bonus.


Pentas, Bee Balm, Black Eyed Suzanne, Hibiscus, Plumbago, Lantana, Mexican Sage, Verbena, Vitex, and Glossy Abelia are all good choices for butterfly, bee, and hummingbird gardens.  If you have a railing around a porch or arbor, a Passion Vine does very well.  Of course, every Butterfly Garden must have a Butterfly Bush.  A Bottle Brush should definitely be planted as well (hummingbird favorite).  When at the garden center, choose red varieties, when you have a choice (example - red Hibiscus versus yellow). 


When you buy these plants, they can all go in one little area for a compact “Butterfly/Hummingbird/Bee Garden”.  You may also want to plant several plants in one location, then have others groups throughout the yard for the “Butterfly/Hummingbird/Bee Yard”!  If you have a new landscape, it is very easy to design your yard to attract butterflies. bees and hummingbirds.  Also consider a source of water for the visitors to your yard. A hummingbird feeder or three by windows so you can get a close up look at the feeding hummingbirds is always a plus.  If you have an area to screen, try a few Ligustrum. Bees love a Ligustrum’s spring time flowers.

There are many other plants that will attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds; these are just a few of my favorites that I have had great success with.  Some plants that you would not normally think of attracting butterflies are pine trees, oak trees, birch trees, hack berries, and blueberry bushes.


Measure your yard for accurate applications and read and follow product label!