Monday, November 29, 2021


Horticulture Hotline 11/29/2021

By Bill Lamson-Scribner




On the bark of my tree, I noticed grayish growth.  I can peel this growth off fairly easily.  What is this growth and is it hurting my tree?


I have been asked some form of this question in Possum’s, on the radio, or in the grocery store in the last month. It sounds like you have lichens.  Lichens are grayish-green organisms that are a cross between fungi and algae.  They make their own food and collect their own water and minerals, so technically they do not harm the plant or tree on which they are growing. They are a sign that the tree or shrub isn’t flourishing.


Since lichens manufacture their own food through photosynthesis, they need sunlight to carry on photosynthesis. A healthy actively growing plant or tree is the best defense against lichens. If the tree or shrub has a thick canopy, the lichens will not survive since they need sunlight to manufacture their food. Culturally, the plant must be planted in an area that provides the conditions that the plant can thrive, so it produces a dense canopy that will shade out the lichens. Proper fertilization based on soil tests and proper pruning will help to keep the canopy thick. Think of trying to grow grass under the thick canopy of a tree – the grass needs sunlight for photosynthesis like the lichens and will not grow in the dense shade.


Although lichens do not hurt the plant, it could be a sign that the plant is in a very moist area or in an area that is not getting good air movement. Any area that is not ideal for plant growth can contribute to lichen growth.


Lichens thrive in these conditions which are not very favorable for plant growth.  With our on-again, off-again rain, it is hard to control these moist conditions.  If you have an irrigation system, be sure you are not over-watering, as this contributes to the problem.  Irrigation systems are great; however, if over used can cause great problems in the landscape.  Large patch fungus and lichens could be a couple of examples of over-watering issues. 


The best control for lichens is cultural controls. Try to minimize the moisture in the soil and maximize air movement around the plants and trees.  Pruning to increase air movement will help dry the soil.  Excessive mulch whether fallen leaves, pine straw or wood mulch will keep moisture high in this area and should be limited to 2-3 inches in depth. A good fertility program derived from a soil test helps a whole bunch.


Lichens, although a bit unsightly, do not harm the plant, so if you can’t get the moisture out of the area because of large trees, it may be something you just have to live with.


Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that lives in our trees.  It manufactures its own food; however, it has a root-like growth that penetrates the bark and collects minerals and water from the host tree.  If left to grow, it will eventually kill the host tree.  Mistletoe has seeds that birds eat and spread.  These seeds also get under the soft bark and germinate spreading the parasitic plant. Mistletoe can get you a kiss during the holiday season, but it can also kill a tree.


Soil Test, pots, potting soil, neem oil, horticultural oil, SUPERthrive,for Christmas Trees or winter root growth, Cotton Burr Compost, gift certificates, rodent control, roach control, large patch control, mole crickets, fire ants, moles, pruning, checking out other landscapes for ideas, inspecting trees that lose their leaves (deciduous) for anything that might need pruning, winter fertilize lawn, trees and shrubs for root growth and transplanting are a few things to keep you busy and get a jump on 2022.


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


Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at You can also call in your questions to “ The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at 


Sunday, November 21, 2021



Horticulture Hotline  11/21/21

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


Rats, Roaches, Large Patch, Mole Crickets, Neem Oil, Pruning and of course Moles are always fun to write about, but let’s talk bulbs.


When you buy your bulbs, buy them pre-cooled and keep them in the refrigerator if you have room.  Different bulbs have different chilling requirements.  It is easier to let the professional bulb grower figure out the exact chilling hours for your bulbs, this way you won’t be counting hours of cooling under a certain temperature.  Daffodils (Narcissus) have a low chilling requirement and that is why they come back each year in the Lowcountry.  Tulips require more chilling and this is why they do not come back and you must replant each year.  Tulip breeders are trying to develop tulips that require fewer chilling hours so that they can be used in warmer climates.  The apple and peach breeders are trying to do the same with their crops.   


For early Spring blooming bulbs, plant them in late November through early January.  Bulbs will start to grow when the temperatures get in the 80’s, so if you want them to bloom in February watch getting them out too early.  With our crazy weather, they might start coming up earlier than you wanted. 


Planting bulbs is easy.  Some people plant them in pots and others in the ground.  When planting in the ground it is best to group them for a good show.  Ideally, when planting in the ground, you would place a 3 inches layer of Nature’s Blend Bed Amendment evenly over the area to be planted.  Till this into a depth of 6 inches.  After tilling, water the area to firm up the area.  Plant your bulbs, then place chicken mesh over the bulbs, this will keep the squirrels from digging up the bulbs.  Top dress the area with Cotton Burr Compost and spray it with Squirrel Stopper.  Nature’s Blend Bed Amendment contains Cotton Burr, composted cattle manure, humate and alfalfa meal.  This mixture will get your bulb off to a good start.  Be sure to plant the bulb at the right depth and with the root side pointing down! Add some 04-04-04 Sustain to the hole when you plant the bulb for the benefit of mycorrhiza fungi.    


Some types of bulbs that do good around here include; Tulips (one-time spectacular showing), Daffodils/Narcissus (many types – “Ice Follies” does particularly well), Anemone, Glanthus (Snow Drop), Muscari (Grape Hyacinth-watch heat-this plant likes morning sun and then shade), Leucojum, Lycrois (Surprise Lily and Magic Lily), Allium, Ipheon (Star Flower), Iris (all types), and Gingers.  Gladiolus are a summer blooming corm – begin planting in April every week to two weeks, they will bloom 90 days after planting so you can have cut flowers or good color in the yard all summer long.


After you eat the big turkey dinner, plan to walk off a few calories around the beautiful Lowcountry or at The Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Keeping Busy In The Yard


Horticulture Hotline 11/14/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Moles are doing their fall tunneling, and they are everywhere! The three-step method of control still gets the best results. Kill the mole. Traps,

Mole Patrol and Talprid seem to work best. Manage the moles food source. Sevin, Over & Under and Grubz Out are very good at killing moles’ food supply. The third step is to apply a repellent to keep new moles out of the yard. Mole, Vole, and Gopher repellent and No Moles do a very good job. With the repellents, you can create a barrier around your property, so you use less repellent and save money.


Speaking of small fury animals, I can’t believe how many RATS are in the Lowcountry. I know Charleston has been written up several times for being a great place to live, but I never knew RATS could read.


Large Patch / Brown Patch / Zoysia Patch have been in lawns this fall. The recent rains made it explode in some yards with those all too familiar circles of disease. In our warm season grasses, these diseases can be in irregular patterns as well as the circles. Map the areas you see the disease, since the disease is in the soil it will tend to reappear in the same areas. Turn off the irrigation. Correct any thatch, compaction or drainage issues. Apply T-Methyl or Strobe G to manage the disease. Add Neptune Harvest’s Crab Shell (organic) product to the area to add beneficial organisms to the soil to combat the bad organisms. We have also seen for ourselves and heard from customers that the use of Cotton Burr Compost really helps with this disease.


Yes, you can still winterize your turf – it is not too late. Look for a product with a 00 for the first number (nitrogen). A 00-00-25 with sulfate of potash and minors would be great. If you do not need the potash, consider SeaHume a wonderful combination of seaweed and humic acid. The seaweed has over 60 minor nutrients, amino acids, and bio stimulants. The humic acid is also full of bio stimulants that help make nutrients that are in the soil available to the plant, help with soil structure, grow roots, and feed the microorganisms in the soil. Both these products can be used together and will help your yard this winter and next spring.   


Now is the time to collect soil to get on a program for 2022. If it has been 30 days since you applied a fertilizer, why wait? Beat the spring rush of soil tests at the lab (and my desk if you use Possum’s). If you have any amending to do (lime, etc.), you do it over the winter and be ready for spring. Having a soil test and program is like having a landscape design; it gives you a roadmap to follow, so you are applying the right products at the right time for your soil. 


Yes, you still have time to plant bulbs. A little 04-04-04 Bolster, Bio-Tone Starter Plus, and / or SeaHume should get them off to a good start.


Do not forget your Neem oil or Horticultural oil for your plants. With all the leaf spot diseases this year, I really like the Neem oil, since it acts as a fungicide as well. If you had any plants that had leaf spot this year, rake up the leaves as they fall (and destroy them), and spray Lime / Sulfur on the ground to help kill overwintering spores.


Hopefully, you have applied a preemergent herbicide to your lawn and beds. If not, why wait? Applying these products now can save you a lot of time this spring and your lawn and plants will thank you for removing the weed competition.


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