Monday, November 28, 2022

Ryegrass? Paint?


Horticulture Hotline 11/28/22

Rye, Cassia, Bottlebrush

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Great weather, Cassia blooming, Tea Olive fragrance, Camellias blooming, Holly berries, fall leaf color – what a good time to visit on of our local gardens / plantations. We are still having great weather and football seasons are coming to an end, so still a good time to get outside in the yard.


One big question to answer this time of year is do I want to grow ryegrass in my lawn, paint my lawn green, or let it go dormant? The football fields, baseball fields, and golf courses look so nice this time of year. Green grass all winter would be nice. If you are a little apprehensive, instead of doing the front yard where the whole world can see, try the back yard or a side yard. If you have active children or dogs (the other children), ryegrass can lessen the damage from traffic. Many people living in Charleston now grew up with green grass in the winter and the that can still happen.


While driving through neighborhoods, I see a lot of houses for sale. Ryegrass or green paint could separate your house from the multitude of other houses that are on the market.

For the very low cost of seed and fertilizer or paint, if you could sell your house one month earlier saving you a monthly payment, wouldn’t it be worth it? What about a year earlier?


Ryegrass gets a bad reputation because people misapply it. I often get asked, “doesn’t rye kill my centipede (or St. Augustine)?” If you manage the rye correctly, you should have no problems. The ryegrass question is like buying a dog. If you base your decision on the few untrained pit-bull stories and never purchased or adopted a dog of any type because of these stories, it would be too bad.


The 3 biggest mistakes I see with rye grass that give it a bad reputation are:

  1. Put out at too high of a rate, so it chokes permanent grass.
  2. Use cheap rye with lots of weed seeds and poor color.
  3. No fertilizer programs. Light green grass and no additional fertilizer so dog urine spots (dark green grass) become your fertilizer program.
  4. Not managed in the spring chemically or culturally, so it competes with permanent grass.


If you decide you want to put out ryegrass, now is the time to check your trusty application chart. Have you put out preemergent herbicide this fall? If so, when and at what rate? If you have recently applied preemergent products, you may want to try the paint or wait until next year. You could put out something to deactivate the preemergent so you could rye, but that will just add to your cost.


If you are painting or not using rye, you can attack some of the nasty winter weeds that will compete with your turf grass next spring without having to worry about the rye grass. Painting will also capture heat that will help your grass “green up” sooner in the spring. Who wants to be “mowing weeds” late winter / early spring? Florida Betony and other winter weeds are visible now. Remember it is easier to kill them now when they are young and actively growing than to wait until they are flowering. Even with ryegrass you can spray out weeds, just read and follow product label as always.


3 Possum’s Stores hot topic reports – vicious late season mosquitoes, winterizing fertilizers (stay away from winter fertilizers for fescue and blue grass), brown patch / large patch, moles (of course), fire ants, and mole crickets.Take soil test and apply SeaHume for a better lawn in 2023.


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

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Holidays Are Coming

                                                        Early Trip By The Jack in the Box


Horticulture Hotline 11/21/22

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Another year has almost gone by. What a year! Covid ((still? really?), Ian, Nicole, lots of high tides, mosquitoes, strange rain (or lack of rain) patterns, and moles. With the dry spring very little brown patch – a nice change! Shortages of products? Umm…


This week I started seeing tents going up in parking lots and people wearing Christmas Hats, so I figured it was time for the yearly Christmas tree article.  


I’m looking forward to my trip through the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. For the last 19 years (several times each year) I went through the display (700 displays and over 2 million lights) with my pound hound Ol’Boy. He loved the lights and walking around Santa’s Village. Ol’Boy also loved going to James Island County Park’s dog park as well. The light show is in its 33rd year. Before Ol’Boy it was my other ‘best friend’ Brown Dog that enjoyed the lights. OK, I would occasionally take some humans, but I swear the dogs liked it the best! If you’re a kid, does Christmas still seems like it takes forever to get here? It sure comes up quick to me! 


I wanted to get this yearly Christmas Tree article out, so you could make plans to go to a local Christmas Tree Farm, find a local source for a cut tree, or use a live tree that you could use in your landscape after the holidays, if you were so inclined.


After Thanksgiving, many of you will be searching for a Christmas tree.  If you are going to buy a cut tree, consider buying it from a local business that is here year-round like an independently owned garden center.  If you buy it from a tent, or a temporary site, look for one that is run by the Exchange Club, Optimist Club, Rotary Club, a local church, a local school club, a local landscaper or another local organization.  Many local organizations that sell trees give a portion of the profits to local charities such as Camp Happy Days.


There are some people from out of state that set up tents in grocery store parking lots. They take their profits out of state when they leave. If you support our local businesses, then you keep our money in our local economy and maybe save a local job. Very important to always keep profits local, especially these Covid days.


Many of the local garden centers offer great Christmas gifts along with trees this time of year.  They have purchased many seasonal items that would be a great present for anyone. Gift certificates are usually available for the hard to shop for gardener. Shopping at a garden center is a great way to avoid long lines.  The parking is free and plentiful this time of year. Pot’s anyone?


Have you ever considered a live tree? Different Hollies (right now you can tell the females with beautiful berries), Eastern Red Cedar, Little Gem Magnolias, Osmanthus, Deodara Cedar and many more make great trees and after the holidays you can plant them in your yard instead of throwing them to the curb. Leyland Cypress have been removed from this list due to their disease issues.


Local tree farms are also an option. A ride in the country is always a good family event (young children, “how much longer will it take to get there?”).  Lebanon Christmas Tree Farm in Ridgeville and Toogoodoo Tree Farm on the way to Edisto are some local tree farms.  Picking out your own tree is fun for the whole family and usually involves hot chocolate and hay rides. You know you are getting a fresh tree when you cut it yourself. 


If you go with a traditional cut tree, make sure it is in water at the place you buy it (unless it is coming fresh off of the truck), and make sure it stays in water until you take it to the curb after the holidays.  Once you bring the tree home, cut an inch off of the bottom of the tree, and place the tree in a five-gallon bucket of water.  While the tree is still outside, consider spraying the tree with Transfilm, Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof to keep the water loss through the leaves at a minimum. If you notice any insects on the tree, blast it with a strong stream of water or consider an insecticidal soap. Let the tree dry before bringing it into the house. 


Locate your tree within your house away from heating ducts and the fireplace.  A stand that can hold a lot of water is a big plus because a fresh cut Christmas tree can drink 1-2 gallons of water per day.  Have one responsible adult in charge of watering the Christmas tree daily to avoid ruining the carpet or floors.  If you can, fill (2) one-gallon milk jugs each day and let them sit for 24 hours, this will allow the chlorine to evaporate out of the water.  Letting the chlorine evaporate from the water you water your plants is a practice you should use when watering all house plants.  


There are many secrets to keeping a tree fresh.  Having a fresh cut and keeping water above this cut at all times is the most important thing you can do for the tree.  The water conducting vessels quickly close up if the tree does not have constant water.  Using a drop of Super Thrive in each gallon of water will help the tree stay fresh. Many people use 7-up and an aspirin in the water. You might want to save the aspirin if you drink Uncle Joe’s egg nogg, soaked cherries or Holiday Punch.  


Thank you for shopping at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply and for all of your letters, questions, comments when I meet you, and for reading “The Horticulture Hotline”! Make it a Great and Safe Holiday Season!


                                                      I can't have Smores or Hot Chocolate but a Doggy Treat?

Monday, November 14, 2022

Roaches - and a little Extra


Horticulture Hotline 11/14/22

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


When I went outside yesterday and it wasn’t raining, the first thing that grabbed my attention were all the birds singing. I don’t know how they do it in Washington state. We are finally getting some fall weather. Seems like winter weather!


With people getting their preemergent weed control out, I have been asked this question several times: does preemergent weed control get washed away or does it need to be re-applied because all the rain - Big No.


Preemergent products are broken down by microorganisms - it does not leach through the soil (like fast release nitrogen or potassium). Its control will be affected if sitting in a big puddle of water for an extended period. You shouldn't have to re-apply unless your yard stays underwater for a long time. If that is the case, you should work on your drainage.


Although this is the Horticulture Hotline, I decided to write about entomology (insects) today. Instead of the Horticulture Hotline, I’ll call it the Entomology Swat Line. With the cooler, rainy weather, the old cockroach has found its way into many Lowcountry homes.  Contact your pest management company if you have a contract or consider getting on a contract or if you do not like dealing with cockroaches.  If you are a die hard do-it-yourselfer, here are a few tips that will make your battle a little more effective. 


Treat your outside perimeter. A band about three feet from your house generally in the mulch is a good place to start. A granular product like Bug Blaster or Wisdom sand in the mulch beds surrounding your house will help kill the roaches before they get inside your house. A NOP (National Organics Program) organic product that is very effective is InTice Perimeter Bait. Using a spray around windows, doors, garage entry, and any other entry point to your house will also keep them from entering your house. EcoVia is a NOP product you can use around the outside and inside of your house.   


Underneath your house, consider dusting with a boric acid product. BorActin is a NOP product labeled for this or you could use the InTice Perimeter Bait. These products will last a long time in the crawl space of your house because they are away from sunlight and moisture (hopefully no moisture). 


In your house, consider using InVict Gold Cockroach Gel. InVict Gold is a fast-acting bait that has our customers at Possum’s singing its praises. The bait products are great because they move throughout the roach population.  Maxforce Gel capitalize on roaches’ nasty habits needed to survive, making these products very effective.  An immature roach has to eat the fecal pellets of the adult roach in order to mature into an adult roach.  Roaches also cannibalize each other.  By using this bait, you get a domino effect by the little roaches eating the fecal pellets of an adult that has consumed the bait.  When one roach dies from the bait, then another eats the dead roach, it will also die.  In wall voids you can also use InTice Perimeter Bait.



There are many good aerosols that come with a long straw that are designed to be sprayed in cracks and crevices.  Now there is a good selection of “green” aerosols to choose from along with the old standbys. If you treat the outdoors and use a gel inside, an aerosol application probably will not be necessary.   


Definitely consider using a growth regulator to help lengthen your control of the roaches.  Generally, growth regulators are very safe to humans (they work on things that insects have and humans do not have), if applied properly, and some will also help with fleas (Nylar). Growth regulators will keep roaches or fleas from reproducing; therefore, breaking up their life cycle. Fleas like damp moist areas, so they flourished this fall. 


Knowing where to put these products is crucial for the success.  Always read, understand and follow the product label.  There are also many pest control companies that are well established in this area and are very capable of taking care of any of your uninvited guests. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, this article should help and the products suggested should work well.