Monday, January 31, 2022

Oh Yeah, Spring is Coming

Horticulture Hotline 01/31/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


The Saucer or Tulip Magnolias are blooming, which usually indicates spring is rapidly approaching. Camellias are blooming. My Bottlebrush and Lantana never stopped blooming; however, after the recent cold weather, I’m going to need to do a wellness check on a few plants. I know the Lantana and Hibiscus took a hit from the cold.


The time is now to introduce some organics to your landscape. SeaHume, with its high humic acid, seaweed and carbon content, is a great choice. SeaHume is very concentrated organic material that has been compacted under heat and pressure over time, and is mined. Cotton Burr Compost also does a terrific job this time of year.


The soil temperature indicates that it is just about time to apply preemergent products to your beds and turf. Valentine’s Day and the running of the Daytona 500 are just around the corner. The time to apply the magical weed preventer is coming up fast.


Depending on which Phd doctor you believe, crabgrass germinates when the soil temperature (3 inches deep) stays above 55 degrees (some people say 57 degrees), for 3 straight days provided adequate moisture in the soil. Now some doctors say remains 57 degrees or above for 24 hours at a depth of 3 inches with adequate moisture.  The manufacturers of the preemergent products suggest that you apply the product 2 weeks before the temperatures are right, so you have to be able to predict the future. Do you have a crystal ball? If you are not into monitoring the soil temperature and do not have ESP (do people still use the term ESP), Valentine’s Day or the running of the Daytona 500 should work for you.  Spreading a preemergent product now could save hours of spot spraying later.


The turf areas as well as the landscape bed areas will greatly benefit from the use of preemerge products. Not only will the yard look better, but your plants will not have to compete with the weeds for sun, nutrients, and water. If you are controlling weeds with preemergent products, there are less weeds there for you to spray or pull, saving you time. There is also less stress on you trying to find time to control the weeds in your yard later once the weeds have emerged. Control them now with a preemergent control product!


For those new readers of the Horticulture Hotline, preemergent control products kill weeds as they germinate.  The weeds never come up and you never have to worry about them.  Crabgrass, goosegrass, barnyardgrass, crowfootgrass, dallisgrass (seedling), foxtail, annual bluegrass, smutgrass, barley, kikuyugrass, wild oats, bittercress, carpetweed, chickweed, Carolina geranium, henbit, knotweed, lespedeza, marestail, black medic, mustard, oxalis, pineappleweed, pigweed, redroot, parsley-piert, purslane, rocket, shephardspurse, speedwell, spurge, and woodsorrel are examples of weeds controlled by preemergent products.  Small seeded annual weeds are controlled by preemergent products.


Read the label of the specific product that you are using to get an exact list of weeds that the manufacturer has tested and shown to control. Preemergent products applied now do not control winter annual weeds that are already up like annual blue grass. To control annual bluegrass, you would have used a preemergent in August and again in October (this could vary with products and rates).


Clover, Florida Betony, Nutsedge and Dollar weed are not controlled by preemergent control products.  These are perennial weeds. Weed Free Zone is a liquid that will do a good job on controlling many of your broadleaf weeds. The Nutsedge will require a different product and is most likely not visible right now.  It is important to control these weeds now before they go into their reproductive stage.  A weed in its reproductive stage is harder to control than a weed in its vegetative stage. By controlling the weed now you avoid having to deal with more weed seeds next year.


It is very noticeable when you ride through the Lowcountry which homeowners and which businesses used preemergent products last fall at the correct time. One business or home lawn will be nice and brown and dormant without a spec of green in sight. Right next to it will be brown turf mixed with green weeds. Again, it is very important to control those weeds now before they begin to flower.


If you missed your fall application of preemergent, use a post-emerge product along with your preemergent product. Kill what weeds are up and control summer annuals weeds before they come up! Great way to be a lawn hero by killing the weeds and not have to mow weeds for the next two and a half months when you are basically mowing weeds. Killing weeds before they seed reduces your weed population greatly. One annual bluegrass plant produces about 6000 seeds!


If you are trying to control weeds in the lawn that are up and starting to flower or seed, mow – wait 2 days and spray – then wait at least another 3 days before you mow again. The mowing will get the weeds actively growing and weeds that are actively growing are easier to kill. If the product is root absorbed, be careful around desirable plants, and water-in properly. If you water in too much, you could move the product passed the shallow root zone of the weed you are targeting.


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


Monday, January 24, 2022

A Cold Day In The Lowcountry


Horticulture Hotline 01/24/22

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


Ravenel Bridge – ice falling – bridge closed – umm.


We finally had some freezing weather and more in the forecast. If you haven’t already pruned your plants that turned to a black mush, you can wait and some of the damaged foliage and branches will help insulate the plant for the next freezing event. I know some of you that maintain high end properties aren’t going to be able to get away with this, so prune away or replace. Sometimes it depends where the damaged plant is located. By the front door – one set of rules. In a big bed mixed in with other plants in the backyard, maybe another set of rules.


I am not a big fan of Weed and Feed this time of year, especially on Centipede grass. Now is a great time to kill young winter weeds before they begin to flower and seed; however, it is way too early to put nitrogen down on your lawn.   Adding nitrogen at this time of year can set your grass up for winter kill.  Centipede grass is the most susceptible to winter kill.  Centipede should not get any significant nitrogen fertilizer until late April/early May depending on the weather.  The ratio of the most common Weed and Feed product is not very appropriate for Centipede grass either (29-00-10, 34-00-04).  Centipede usually likes a 1:0:1 or 1:0:2 ratio fertilizer (15-00-15), depending on a soil test.  This means that the nitrogen is either equal to the potassium or one half of the potassium.  It is a good time to control winter weeds that are up before they start flowering.  Instead of putting a product across your entire yard, if you can spot spray the weeds with Weed Free Zone; you will be putting less chemicals into the environment.


Most Weed and Feed products that you see mountains of at this time of year in certain stores contain the active ingredient:  Atrazine.  Atrazine is what kills the weeds.  Atrazine is a root absorbed chemical and it will go into desirable trees and shrubs via their root system as well as weeds.  If you read the label of the product it will tell you not to put it in the root zone of desirable trees and shrubs.  This is very difficult to do as it is impossible to know exactly where all the roots of trees and shrubs are located.  Remember you could also have roots coming from the neighbor’s yard.  Your trees usually will not die the first time you put out this type of product, but over time it will weaken the tree or shrub until something else (insect or disease) kills your tree.


With Valentines Day coming up, why not buy a nice decorative pot, some good potting soil,  some good fertilizer, some nice plants and some wetting agent and have a present that can last forever?


It is the time to put preemergent herbicides on your lawn that will stop small seeded annual summer weeds from coming up and terrorizing your lawn.  These products are very safe to use in and around shrub beds and trees.  They will not only keep weeds out of your lawn, but will also keep them out of your beds.  Dimension is a very good product, but there are numerous others based on your needs. 


As with any product, read, understand and follow product label when applying. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Spring Indicators, Secrets, and Getting Old


Horticulture Hotline 01/17/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Well, I had something happen to me last week that I guess most people have happened to them at some point in their life. I realized I must be getting old. I was with the Director of Grounds of a college and one of the coaches. The coach and I were exchanging phone numbers. I said the same thing that I have said for many, many years, “are you sure you want my last name. I have a long last name that is hyphenated. It is the name I was born with from my dad’s side and it’s not like my mom (although she was a model and could still be a model) hyphenated her name like Farrah Fawcett-Majors.” My reference about Farrah Fawcett-Majors was met with deer in the headlights looks and crickets. I had to try to explain Charlie’s Angels (but of course since I’m old I couldn’t remember the show’s name at first), the hair, and ‘The Poster’!


The early signs of spring are here. Saw some cardinals messing around and my favorite indicator the saucer magnolia (tulip magnolia) showing some color.


Three “secret” products that have proven to be useful; however, not everyone talks about:


3. Dog Rocks – a great product from “Down Under” that neutralizes dog and cat urine, so you do not have dead areas in your grass. It is crazy, but these rocks from Australia work great! Many dogs will urinate in the same area, killing the grass, and opening the area up for weed attack (often times the more salt tolerate Bermuda grass – sometimes called joint grass – that is very hard to control).


Your neighbor who is using Dog Rocks might be in your backyard for a few “shrimp on the barbi”, and might comment about the urine spots killing your grass. Then, take a sip of his oil can Foster’s Lager, and never mention the Dog Rocks. Competition between neighbors is alive and well.


2. Nitrile disposable gloves – similar to what Doctors use. The people that buy these gloves use them all the time for everything. They are nitrile, so no latex issues and are resistant to most chemicals. Spreading fertilizer, spraying control products, painting, cleaning up after a pet, changing diapers, putting fuel in mower or car, carrying out trash, cleaning the house, changing the oil in a mower or vehicle, and carrying in the Christmas Tree are just a couple of uses for these gloves. The gloves are very inexpensive; however, not many people know about them.


The same neighbor that uses the Dog Rocks reaches out to shake your hand that is covered with paint, then pulls back his hand and says, “doing a little painting today, Ol’Sport?”


1. Neem oil. Most people have heard of horticultural oils for insect control; however, not everyone has heard of Neem oil. They work very similar on insects, but Neem oil also controls certain fungi as well. Powdery Mildew on Crepe Myrtles, Dogwoods, and Roses can be a big issue in the Lowcountry. Lucky for us, this disease usually only lasts for a short period of time, making it a perfect candidate for this organic product.


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