Monday, April 24, 2023

May Flowers? No April Showers to Speak of...

                                                      Prune after bloom
                            Pro-active work in the yard gives you more time to enjoy the Lowcountry

                                                      Mosquito - #1 killer of humans world-wide


Horticulture Hotline 04/24/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Here is a quick list of questions about events in the yard:


Soil tested?  Custom Program written? Apply the products that your soil needs instead of guessing. Doing soil tests are cheaper and provide better results than random applications. Why do you think farmers with hundreds of acres’ soil test?


“I started using Possum’s recipe for my lawn 3 years ago and I have never had a better lawn in the 35 years that I have been trying to grow the perfect lawn. Possum’s is awesome! I have the best lawn in the neighborhood.”  Greg Lienert


“Great products for my lawn.  15-00-15 Lawn Food!  My lawn never looked better!  Better than Scotts!  Great Products!”  George Bryant


Mosquitoes? Do you have a plan? Have anything collecting water outside – gutters, flower pot dishes, bird bath, tarps, water bowl, children’s toys…?


Prune and fertilize azaleas, camellias, and other spring flowering plants after they bloom? Wait on Gardenias for now.


Fertilized your trees and shrubs? 17-00-09, 08-02-04 (organic)? Professional feeding?


Huge fleshy leaves on new growth of camellias and azaleas? Leaf gall? Remove infected leaves and destroy.


Is Powdery mildew attacking roses, crepe myrtles, dogwoods?  Neem PY (organic) Perfect weather conditions – dry and cool nights.


Large Patch Fungus in turf – get an early start – prevention is cheaper than curative. Strobe Pro, T-Methyl, and Heritage are a few good chemical controls. Crab Shell by Neptune Harvest, SeaHume, and Cotton Burr Compost are organic products that we are told lessen the situation. Managing your water and drainage will also help – wetting agents?  


Adult mole crickets are tunneling and mating – babies to come soon - manage them. Intice Bait.


Fire ants are starting to forage – manage them.  Wisdom, Bug Blaster, and Extinguish Plus.


Grubs are near the surface – manage them. Some of these grubs will emerge into Japanese beetles that will shred your plant’s foliage in a month (especially roses and crepe myrtles). Kill them now!  Lebanon Insect Control, Above and Below, and Grub X.


Get a “jump” on fleas this year. Lebanon Insect Control, Bug Blaster outside. Precor 2000, Alpine Flea Insecticide with IGR, or D-Fence NXT all have an adulticide as well as a growth regulator and are labeled for indoor use. Petcor to apply to pet.


Plant a vegetable garden?


Plant a flower garden?


If you applied preemergent in February, it is time for your second application (depending on the rate and product you used the first time). Remember the ornamental beds!


The leaves have fallen – new mulch? Try Cotton Burr Compost as a mulch and give that sweet compost tea to your plants and trees every time water runs through the compost.


Fertilized Palm Trees with 07-00-09 (the most awesome Palm Fertilizer)?


Tested your well water? Many are getting salty.


Pruned holly fern, cast iron plant, and monkey grass (Liriope)?


Moles? Mole Patrol or Traps, Sevin then Repellex? Moles are having babies (multiplying) this month!


Checked your irrigation?


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


Monday, April 17, 2023


                                            Wetting Agent
                                           Beautiful Japanese Maple
                                           Play Ball!

Horticulture Hotline 04/17/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


I keep getting these same calls with a similar subject. They start something like this, “I’m getting these mysterious brown areas in my yard”, “a crazy fungus has taken over areas of my yard”, and “insects have ruined my beautiful custom program yard”.


These windy, low humidity days really dry out the surface of our soil quickly and give me chapped lips! The drying winds also show where the irrigation is working properly and where it needs some modification. The irrigation technician during a dry spell is like the lawn mower mechanic in March and April. Most likely you are going to have to wait for that house call.


The “mysterious brown areas” have in all cases turned out to be lack of water. Money has been spent on fungicides and insecticides when all the area needed is a little water. If you have an irrigation system, check to make sure your heads are turning properly and all your zones (valves) are working, or hire a professional to go through your system.


“My irrigation system runs for 20 minutes per zone three times per week, is that enough water?”  This is a question I get asked frequently, and the answer is not a yes or a no response.  Different irrigation systems have different gallon per minute nozzles so the rate varies according to the type of nozzle installed.  Water pressure also varies depending on where you live and whether you have a well.  Some irrigation heads pop up and mist and others pop up and spray in a rotary fashion.  The difference is enormous to a yard.  The pop ups that are spraying a constant mist can flood an area very quickly. The rotary head can run for an hour without too much water being applied. Rotary heads also can rotate 360 degrees or maybe only 180 degrees. The 180-degree heads would put out twice the water in a given area than the 360 degrees rotor in the same period of time. 


Ideally your soil should be moist down to six inches.  Moist…not saturated.  A soil probe is an excellent way to determine the moisture levels in the soil.  Soil probes are available at garden centers.  Soil probes will allow you to check the moisture as well as the profile of your soil (see the layers of thatch, sand, clay, loam).  You can also determine how much thatch you have using these probes.  Soil probes also make taking a soil test much easier. 


Measuring the amount of water your sprinkler or irrigation system is putting onto your landscape is very easy.  A few coffee cups that have an equal diameter on top as the bottom is all you need.  If you are not a coffee cup person, you can also use tuna fish cans, soup cans or other containers that have an equal diameter on top and bottom.  If you do not want to look like a hillbilly, you can invest in several rain gauges. 


Simply place these coffee cups throughout your lawn and run the sprinkler for 15 minutes, then measure the amount of water in the container.  If you have an irrigation system, you will have to measure each zone separately to get an accurate measurement. Place the coffee cups different distances from the head that you are measuring to see how evenly your heads are spraying. If heads from another zone are going to spray back into this area, you should collect that water too.   If you collected an average of a quarter inch of water in 15 minutes and you wanted to put out a half inch of water, simply increase your irrigation time to 30 minutes.


While you are out there, make sure you have good even coverage. Be sure the heads are turning properly and not pointed to the street. Usually, you have to spray a little on the street or driveway to get water to the edge of the yard where it meets the street or driveway. Are your trees and shrubs established to the point that you can turn off the zones that water them?


By applying organic products and/or wetting agents you can greatly reduce the amount of water you need to apply.  Cotton Burr compost is a great organic product that will reduce your watering bill, and increase the soil’s nutrient holding capacity making your fertilizers more effective.  Cotton Burr compost will also help reduce runoff of fertilizers and other control products into the environment because the products penetrate the soil. 


Wetting agents allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil resulting in deeper rooting grasses, plants, and trees.   Wetting agents will also help reduce runoff of fertilizers and other control products into the environment because the products penetrate the soil.   Although water is very inexpensive here compared to other parts of the country and world, you still do not want to waste it.  Wetting agents have been shown to reduce water usage by 30-60%. I have been hugged by people that I sold wetting agents to and they returned to tell me about their savings on the water bill. Fungicide use can be reduced with less watering. 


The most important aspect of watering is keeping the soil moist to a depth of six inches.  Add the appropriate amount of water for your yard with your soil type, wind exposure, slope or yard, and exposure to sun. Adding organic products and wetting agents will help lower your water bill. 


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



Monday, April 10, 2023

Azalea Leaf Gall - Hot Topic

Give your grass a little 'Perk'


Horticulture Hotline 04/10/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Have you noticed an azalea or a camellia whose leaves are 2-3 times the normal size and are thick and fleshy?


They have leaf gall. Leaf gall is a very common disease that affects camellias and azaleas while they are putting on new leaves in the spring. This disease affects Camellia sasanqua (the small leaf camellia that blooms in the fall) more than Camellia japonica (the large leaf camellia that blooms in the winter).  The cool nights, overhead irrigation and rains in the early spring make this disease flourish.  This disease in camellias is caused by the fungus Exobasidium camelliae. Sometimes galls can be caused by insects or mites as well. There is another fungus, Exobasidium vaccinnii, that affects azaleas in a very similar way. 


Leaf gall is the common name for this fungus.  The leaves become very large and fleshy.  The new growth is much thicker than normal and then the leaves break apart and release spores.  When the leaf breaks apart, you can see the lower part of the leaf turns white.  The disease spreads by wind and splashing water. A good layer of mulch will help with the splashing water.


The best control for leaf gall is to pick the infected leaves off as soon as you see them in the spring.  If you can pull them off before the spores develop, you can prevent the disease from spreading.  Once you pull them off, place them in a plastic bag (the one your newspaper comes in is handy, a dog poop bag, or any other plastic bag you might have around the house) and throw them away in the garbage or burn them in the ever so popular backyard fire pit. 


Usually, this disease does not require chemical treatment.  The manual pulling off of leaves and limiting overhead irrigation in the spring, when the nights are cool, will keep it in check.  If you have a severe problem year after year, you could apply Mancozeb at bud break (the new growth in the early spring).  This control should be your last resort, and only used in severe cases when a good percentage of your leaves are affected. Leaves are the food factory. 


For this year, pull off as many infected leaves as you can.  Soon your plants should go back to producing its normal size leaves.  The leaves that were affected by leaf gall will soon wither, turn brown and fall off the shrub.


Soil test taken to Possum’s (check), preemergent product on lawn and beds (check), SeaHume on lawn and beds (check), 17-00-09 in beds (check), Perk on lawn (check), Citrus Leafminer Pheromone Traps in citrus (check), irrigation gone through and adjustments made (check), Dominion drench on plants with history of insect pest (check), lawnmower serviced (check), Cutless growth regulator for shrubs I don’t want to trim (check), Intice Perimeter around outside of house for roaches and other uninvited guest (check) …


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