Can Ornamec be used on Sagina subulata? What about Irish and Scotch moss? — Charlie Ostella via E-mail
Ornamec, active ingredient Fluazifop, is a post-emergent, selective herbicide used to control weed grasses in some turfgrass and ornamental plantings. In many cases, Ornamec can be sprayed over the top of existing shrubs and perennials to assist in controlling weeds in those hard-to-maintain areas. The list of plants that can safely come in contact with Ornamec is quite long. More than 500 plant species are labeled for at least some tolerance of Ornamec, and are classified as Type I, II or III in tolerance — Type I being the most tolerant and Type III the least tolerant. After reviewing the list of species labeled, Irish moss, Scotch moss or Sagina subulata are not included. This does not necessarily mean Irish moss is not tolerant. It may indicate that Ornamec has not been tested on Irish moss. Many pesticide labels have a clause that states the product can be used, at the applicator's risk, on non-labeled plants. If using this product is essential to your weed-control plan, select a few plants in low-visibility locations and test spray. Wait 2 to 3 weeks to be sure there are no negative effects before widespread use. Prior to testing, read the label completely and follow the directions exactly.
Our perennial border is about 200 feet long and was established three years ago. The first year, every-thing was beautiful. The second season, many plants became floppy and unkempt. Do I need to switch out those plants for tidier species? — via the Internet
Over the past 15 to 20 years, there has been quite the push to move away from annual flowers to perennials. Perennial plants generally survive more than one season and may not need to be replaced often, if ever. Unfortunately, the amount of labor required to maintain perennial borders can be quite high. You may have installed some invasive or generally sloppy species. You will want to research each of the species in the border. Next, determine the appropriate cultural practices for each. Quite often, floppy plants can be avoided by giving them a “haircut” prior to setting flower buds. Determining which plants can be treated this way is somewhat simple. There are two basic growth habits — upright and basal. Upright plants grow single or multiple stems, producing flowers on the tips. These are the plants prone to flopping over. You may need to experiment a bit, but after the stems have grown 6 to 8 inches tall, take some pruners or hedge clippers and remove or shorten the stems by half. This will cause the stems to branch out even more, making a bushier plant, and the total height of the stem will be shorter and less likely to flop. Basal plants produce a tuft of leaves at or near the ground with little or no stem. After a certain amount of time, they will send up a flower stalk. Usually these plants do not flop, and a “haircut” may remove all of the flowers. Once flowering is complete on either type of plant, you can prune off the spent flower stems.
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