Monday, August 29, 2022


Horticulture Hotline 08/29/2022

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


Vines, vines, everywhere are vines (in the rhythm of Signs – The Five Man Electrical Band 1971).


I seem to get vines from air attack (bird droppings) and infantry attack (crawling over from next door). Right now, the vines have the soft new fall growth that is easiest to kill (like the spring growth). The infantry attack is mainly Asiatic Jasmine, English Ivy, and Algerian Ivy. My counter attack has to be swift and effective because once these vine’s leaves harden off, they are very difficult to control (these vines seem to laugh at my vine killing weapons)!


The air attack vines are tricky! Smilax, pepper vine, morning glory, and Virginia Creeper are usually my main enemies. Luckily no poison ivy at this point.  As you pull vines, they are designed to break apart.  One common mistake I see when driving around neighborhood is people pulling vines over the top of bushes.  It is very satisfying to pull the vines from the top, but if you really want to get rid of them, you have to get on your hands and knees and find where the vine is coming out of the ground and treat it at the base.   The best thing to do is to go to the base of the plant and pull the vine down through the plant.  If there is room beside the shrub that has the vine in it, do the following:


  1. Pile the vine next to the plant.  If this is a turf area, lay a plastic leak proof tarp or sheet of plastic down first. You are going to use the vine’s leaves to translocate the control product to the root system.
  2. Spray the vine with a combination of Killzall (Gly), Brush Master, Possum’s 80/20 Sticker (help “stick” product to vine), and Possum’s Blue Alert SS Dye (so you can tell where you have treated).  These are systemic control products that will move through the plant and kill it at the root level so you will not have the re-growth.
  3. If the vine breaks off and you don’t have any leaves to spray the control product on, you can apply a control product to the fresh green wound where the vine broke off. With a pair of pruners, cut the vine’s stem close to the ground.  Treat the end that is going back into the ground with Brush Killer / Stump Killer. In the old days, we would buy paint brushes to dip into control products for treating targeted areas. VPG has built the paint brush into Brush Killer / Stump Killer so the product is very easy to apply. 
  4. Always Read, Follow and Understand the product label and wear proper safety equipment.


A few other things going on in the landscape. The nasty rascal – The Chinch Bug is out sucking the life out of the grass now that it has some moisture in it. Worms attacking the turf (look for moths in your turf in the morning and evening) and worms attacking trees. Good guys – tree cattle – spinning their web close to the tree’s limbs and trunks, like a stocking women used to wear, while they clean organic matter off the tree. Those darn mosquitoes. Wasps. With the rain comes the mushrooms – nothing to really worry about. Florida Betony, rattlesnake weed anyone?


Main thing to do right now is apply your preemergent product of choice for the winter seeds that drive you crazy in the spring in your beds and turf areas.

Monday, August 22, 2022

August in the Lowcountry


Horticulture Hotline 08/22/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Mosquitoes, roaches, fleas, flies, chinch bugs, army worms, wasps, spiders, spittlebugs, and mice have become much more visible with the hot weather. Localized pop-up thunder storms (gray leaf spot St. Augustine) have dominated our weather, so there is no telling how much rain we are getting across the area as a whole.


With three Possum stores in the area, I get a regular dose of how crazy our weather is in the Lowcountry. Possum’s West (West Ashley) might get a half inch of rain, Possum’s North (North Charleston) might get an inch and a half and Possum’s East (Mt. Pleasant) nothing at all. It is amazing how the waterways and sea breezes affect the weather patterns!


The Lowcountry is one area that a rain gauge is a must. Rain gauges come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very expensive and record your rainfall, and others are very basic and are less than five dollars. You can make your own “rain gauge” very easily from anything that has an equal top diameter and bottom diameter. Soup cans, tuna fish cans, a coffee cup, or an empty can of canned possum (the other white meat) make great rain gauges. Be sure to place your rain gauge in an area where your house or trees are not going to skew your results.


Fall mosquitoes seem to be the meanest mosquitoes. Probably because I spend more time outside in the fall when it cools down and because we usually get more rain in the fall, mosquitoes are out with a vengeance. Deer hunters know all about fall mosquitoes!


Over the weekend, I was surveying the yard for potential mosquito breeding sites. We have this roll around basketball hoop in the driveway that requires water in the base to stabilize it. Of course, someone lost the cap to the place you add water and now there is a great place for mosquitoes to breed. Mosquito larvae were swimming around this big water reserve like they were in the Atlantic Ocean. It looked like one had a long board and several with stand-up paddle boards! The slightest dent on my trash can lid also collects water where there was mosquito larva. I keep 3 sizes of measuring cups on a window sill near the hose where I mix up my “solutions” for killing weeds, fungus, and insects around the house. Rainwater had got in them, and you guessed it – more mosquito larvae. Tarp on my boat, tarp over the wood pile (away from the house so the wood doesn’t give the termites a bridge over the barrier around my house of termiticide), magnolia leaves, five-gallon bucket (s) ...Oh yeah, the rain gauge had mosquito larvae in it as well. Always empty out your rain gauge! Mosquitoes just need a very little amount of water for breeding – think of a plastic water bottle cap.


With all the insects that are active in the yard Cyonara Lawn and Garden Concentrate or RTS is an excellent product with a very broad label and a low price point. Cyonara is labeled to spray the outside of your house to keep roaches in check and even your vegetable garden, so you know it is safe. If you prefer organic products, EcoVia might be more to your liking.

Have you controlled your winter weeds with a preemergent herbicide this year? Now is the time. Pots can add color and diversity to your landscape. Plant now for the fall and winter.


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


Sunday, August 14, 2022

Too Dry To Aerate This Spring?


Horticulture Hotline 08/14/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


I was asked about aerating a yard this time of year the other day, and I replied go for it as long as your grass is actively growing and not under any stress. Aerating should be considered for the health of your whole landscape and it is not a spring only activity.  While you have the holes open in your yard, there are many products that you can add to that root zone area that will benefit your turf, trees, and shrubs.


Aerating reduces compaction, reduces thatch, increases oxygen movement to the roots, brings beneficial microorganisms to the surface, cuts runners, and allows better penetration of water, fertilizers, or control products into the soil. As a bonus you may cut up an army worm!


If you aerate now, it will be the perfect time to apply your winter preemergent weed control. Even if you don’t aerate, now is the time to control those winter weeds with a preemergent control product.


If you were too busy in the spring or if your yard was just too dry, aerate now before the grass slows down too much. I imagine there are a lot of landscape professionals that have aerators sitting in their shop that would love to aerate your yard now or get a few neighbors and rent one.


Right after aerating, while the holes are open, is a good time to add SeaHume G, BGK 7500, 04-04-04 Bolster, Crab Shell, Turface and/or Cotton Burr Compost.  Even if you are not aerating, these products are great to add to your lawn and beds.

·         SeaHume G is a bio-stimulant humic acid product that will help your roots grow, soften up the soil, feed beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, make nutrients that are in the soil more available to the plants, and keep fertilizer from leaching.

·         SeaHume G also contains 10% cold water seaweed. The seaweed also acts as a bio-stimulant and is a source of over 60 minor elements, amino acids, and natural chelating agents.

·         BGK 7500 is a granular organic product that has thatch eating bacteria mix in with a 03-03-03 fertilizer. BGK 7500 is also fortified with 6% humic acid.

·         04-04-04 Bolster and other products that contain mycorrhiza. By applying these products while the roots are exposed, the mycorrhiza can attach to the roots quickly. These friendly fungi will help the plant absorb water and nutrients from the soil while competing with bad fungus in the soil.

·         Crab Shell by Neptune’s Harvest will increase the chitin eating bacteria in the soil. These bacteria will help control nematodes and fungus. I would definitely use this product in areas that I have problems with large / brown patch.

·         Turface can last about 20 years in the soil and help manage moisture.  This is a clay product that has been super-heated until it pops!  This makes this product sterile as well as turns it into a little capillary.  This capillary holds water and then releases it as the plant needs it.  This product is used on baseball infields to manage the moisture levels in clay; otherwise, the clay would be rock hard or moist and slimy. Turface will also keep fertilizer and water from leaching in sandy soils. Turface is great for wet or dry areas.

·         Cotton Burr Compost will add water holding capabilities to the soil by adding organic matter to the soil.  Cotton Burr Compost will soften up clay as well as giving sandy soil nutrient holding capacity.  Cotton Burr Compost is very high in nutrition and will also help increase populations of beneficial organisms in the soil.


All the above products will help conserve moisture as well.


Those mean and nasty fall mosquitoes are out and watch out for aphids.


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