Tuesday, December 26, 2023



                                                     Wetting Agent and Biostimulants - Easy


                                            Grass on a Program

Horticulture Hotline 12/26/23

  Bill Lamson-Scribner


We seem to be getting some much-needed rain that will hopefully mitigate some of the salt damage that many of our yards suffered during the recent extreme high tides and flooding. A good free leaching of salt by mother nature is hard to beat and easy on the water bill! These rains also give you the perfect opportunity to identify low areas and areas with drainage issues.


Here are a few New Year’s Resolutions for the Gardener:


Take a soil test so you know what your soil needs are and amend the soil accordingly. I have been doing this for myself on landscape jobs since the late 1970’s and for other people since the early 1980’s. When people return to Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control after following our prescription for their lawn, they are happy, happy, happy. It is amazing how your grass will respond with a little tweaking of nutrients. A custom program is the best way to go, so you have a yearly calendar of what to apply and when to apply it. What is the old saying, “if you write down a goal, your chances to achieve it go way up.” A custom program will give you a step-by-step formula for an awesome yard in 2024. 


Go through all the old products you have in your garage and identify why you purchased them to begin with and if they are products that can still be used.  This will save you money and make room for new and improved products.


Manage winter weeds now while they are young. The bigger they get the harder they are to control. If you kill them now, you will not have to pull out the mower to mow the weeds.


Treat fungus proactively – you will save money. There is a lot of disease out there waiting for conditions to get right for another attack. Our ground stays warm enough for grass to absorb nutrients or systemic fungicides. Keep your eyes out for the next warm spell because the large patch / brown patch we had in the fall will explode again.


Use wetting agents this year.  Wetting agents have been shown to save approximately 30-60% of water consumption for a yard.  This would be a huge savings on your water bill.  By watering less, you will have less fungus problems and save money by not having to buy as much fungicides or water. At Possum’s we have noticed that a lot of people that use wetting agents save even more water because they are more in tune to their watering and their water bill. They are saving more like 80%, so if their water bill was $100.00 per month now the bill is only $20.00. A huge savings and water bills are usually more than $100.00. There are many other benefits to using wetting agents, and I was finally able to develop an easy RTS (connect straight to your hose) applicator. Your roots will grow deeper and you will be able to capture more nutrients, so you will get more out of your fertilizer.


To conserve water, it is time to get that hose that leaks at the faucet a new gasket. Check your irrigation. Are all the zones necessary or can you turn some off? Shrubs and trees should be established after one year or before. Are the heads spraying the way they were intended to spray?  If you need help, get the irrigation person over now before the spring rush.


In 2024 try to remove fertilizer and other control products from hard surfaces like driveways, sidewalks, pool decks, and streets before these products are washed into the storm water.  This will help protect the beautiful area in which we live.  Since a lot of storm water ends up in our marshes and waterways, this will also help protect our natural resources that we use for recreation (oysters, crabs, shrimp, and fish), food (oysters, crabs, shrimp, and fish), and jobs (oysters, crabs, shrimp, and fish). You will also avoid that nasty staining.



Buy a 100 pack of disposable nitrile gloves.  These things are great!  You can use them when handling control products and fertilizers, when changing the oil in your lawn mower, while taking down your Christmas tree to keep sap off your hands, while painting or taking out the trash, cleaning, picking up after your dog and yard work….  These gloves are very inexpensive and can save you lots of hot water while trying to remove things from your hands.  These gloves are also good at keeping the human scent away from mole, mice, and rat bait.


In 2024, add organic matter to your lawn and beds.  Organic matter will also help you lower your water bill while adding many other benefits to your soil.  Cotton Burr compost has been improving Lowcountry soils with great results for the past 20 years.  If you want to see for yourself the benefits of cotton burr compost, measure a 100 square foot area in your turf (10 feet x 10 feet) and spread one 2 cubic foot bag. Check out the progress over a month. Many people feel their fungicide use has gone down after using cotton burr compost.


To combat weeds, plan to put out preemergents in your lawns and beds according to product label.  This will make your life a lot less stressful and your yard will be looking a lot better without weeds.  If time is a big issue, consider buying a year’s supply of product now, so you will have the product handy when it is time to apply. 


In 2024, always apply product according to the label’s directions.  No more, “if one ounce is good….two ounces will be real good”. Many of our fire ant products, less is better. On the pest control side of our business, roaches and rats can be repelled with too much product. Follow the label that has cost the manufacturer millions of dollars to get approval from the EPA and you will have better results. This will also save you money - not to mention the product label is a Federal Law. 


For those pet owners out there, whose animals have a history of flea problems, be proactive by applying growth regulators. Nyguard, D-Fense NXT, or Precor 2000 applied every three months, should keep your pet free of fleas. Rotate products with different active ingredients.


Always mow the grass with a sharp mower blade and prune the bushes with sharp pruning blades.  You will have cleaner cuts and less chance of disease. Take your mower to the shop for a tune-up before the spring rush.


Read a good book about gardening.  Reading is how we learn and it will motivate you as a bonus.  Picture books are fine.


Plant a plant for a pollinator – like milkweed, butterfly bush, bottlebrush, bee balm, salvia …


Happy New Year!


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 possumsupply.com. You can also call in your questions to “The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, or listen to the replay of Saturday’s show, Sundays from 11:00 to noon on 1250 WTMA (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at possumsupply.com. 



Monday, December 18, 2023



Horticulture Hotline 12/18/2023

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Wow, what a difference a week makes! Last week my yard was full of nutrients and now after almost six inches of rain, totally stripped of nutrients. Where I live, Sunday was mainly a rain event (fresh water) in other areas, with record high tides, salt water was more of an issue.


Your soil nutrients took a big hit over the weekend. A soil test now would help you out tremendously in 2024. Bring your soil to a Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control and we will get you back on the right track. If you think salt water is an issue, be sure to test for sodium. Salt Free RTS should help flush out the salt while you wait for test results.


Potassium like nitrogen moves in the soil – leaches. Phosphorous does not move so readily. If you do not have a soil test, 00-00-25 + minors is a very good fertilizer to consider for your lawn, trees and shrubs. A light dose of Cotton Burr Compost right now is a super organic product for your whole yard. Not only will it provide needed nutrients and break down thatch, but many people have noticed a reduction of fungus as well. Excell and Possum’s minors are two good minor nutrient products.


SeaHume G should be used with any of the above or, if you were going to use only one product, this would be the one to use. The host of minor and major nutrients as well as biostimulants will be a big help to your lawn, shrubs, and trees. SeaHume combines well with any of the above products, especially Cotton Burr Compost.


The rain has stripped your soil of most of its nutrients. Do you like to go to sleep at 11:00 pm after only eating breakfast at 5:00 am? Please feed your trees, shrubs, and lawn, so they have some protection from cold, insects, and disease this winter. Send your landscape to dormancy with a full belly.


Because of damage potential, really inspect your trees closely. With these saturated soils, wind can blow over trees. I know when I stepped into one of my beds that usually has very firm soil, I sank up to my ankle.  Eastern Red Cedars, magnolias, and other evergreens are very susceptible because of the big sail their foliage provides. Young trees that have not developed an extensive root system are also susceptible. Just ride through a new neighborhood and you will witness these young trees lodged over.


Look at your trees and see if they have developed a new “lean.” Inspect near the roots of your tree and look for any heaving or raised areas. Not all trees become instantly dangerous because they are leaning. If the tree fell, what would it hit is always one consideration. Having a tree care professional inspect your trees is a very good idea.


The above products will also help your roots grow over the winter. The trees and shrubs swaying can tear roots that you will want to re-grow, so they will be ready for what 2024 brings their way (remember the drought Spring of 2023). If you have heavy soil, the saturated soils might have cut off oxygen and drown the roots or encouraged root rot disease. Our soils are warm enough that roots grow all year, so give the roots some food to encourage root growth.


Now is a great time to walk around your yard and identify any low areas. Fungus and weeds love low areas. If you know that you have had fungus in the past, consider putting out a preventative fungicide as the label recommends. T-Methyl and Strobe G are two good systemic fungicides that are good to rotate.


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 http://www.possumsupply.com. You can also call in your questions to “The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, or listen to the replay of Saturday’s show, Sundays from 11:00 to noon on 1250 WTMA  (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at possumsupply.com. 

Monday, December 4, 2023

Disease and Insects Flourish in Mild Weather

                                                      Large Patch Explosion





                                           Sucking the life out of Sweetgrass

Horticulture Hotline 12/04/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Last week, I wrote about the explosion of Large Patch, Brown Patch, and Zoysia Patch. Over Thanksgiving weekend, the conditions were perfect for the disease triangle, and the disease flourished! If you missed the article and want to read it, you can go to possumsupply.com and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab.


The extended warm weather we have had has kept an insect that attacks our beloved Sweetgrass active as well. Sweetgrass is being attacked by an unarmored, soft body, scale insect called a mealybug. Mealybugs are like aphids, scale, white flies, the “nasty rascal, the chinch bug,” lace bugs, and other sucking bugs in that they suck plant juices or sap from the host plant.


I was surprised when I first saw mealybugs on Sweetgrass. I usually associate mealybugs with plants grown inside buildings, homes (interior plantscapes) or greenhouses. I usually think of ornamental grasses as being pest free – wrong!


As with any sucking bug, you want to get the situation under control fast, or you will have the secondary problem that looks way worse than the fuzzy, airy mealybugs. The secondary problem is the dreaded sooty mold.


Sooty mold is the black mold that grows on the excrement (poop) of certain sucking bugs. Have you ever seen a black gardenia (from white fly poop) or crepe myrtle (from aphid poop)? Certain insects have a very short digestive track and they are drinking sap from a plant that is pressurized. The sap goes in their mouth and out their behind very rapidly covering the plant with a sugary substance (often called honey dew) that this mold grows.


In human terms, if you could connect your mouth to, let us say, a keg of beer or maybe a soft serve ice cream machine at some point the beer or ice cream would be coming out of somewhere (nose, ears, …) leaving a mess. Insects have hardly any digestive tract to slow things down, so the sugary plant juices come out of their butt. On this substrate grows the unattractive black sooty mold.


A very effective way to control these mealybugs, while not hurting the beneficial insects, is to use an insecticidal soap. Also drench the area around the Sweetgrass with Dominion.

Dominion is a long-term systemic insecticide that will give you more time to do something else.  


Check your local temperatures to see if it is a good time to apply Neem Oil or Horticulture oil for over wintering insects. Armored scale (like you see on camellias – aka tea scale), unarmored scale (mealybugs, cottony cushion scale), aphids, and others.


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