October 2016 / Volume 115

In This Issue

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

68 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

2.59 inches

(Average: 4.62 inches)



2016 YTD Rainfall total: 

22.49 inches

(Average YTD: 33.96 inches)





Donations Keep The Tulsa Master Gardeners Program Going Strong
Recognition of this month's donations:

Lee Kutner

Donations to Lee Kutner's 85th Birthday and Associated Pond Fund:

Carolyn Rogers
Jim & Ann McKellar
Diane Hambric
J.K. Simmons
Doris Peckner

The Tulsa Master Gardener Foundation receives no city, state or federal funding for its programs. In fact, the majority of Tulsa's Master Gardener programs are self-funded.

Tulsa Master Gardener's own fundraisers make up most of the income to cover expenses. A significant portion comes from the Tulsa Master Gardener Annual Plant Sale that is held each April. Other fundraisers include the Garden Tour (June) and "Garage Sales" that occur from time to time. Finally, one other income source that sometimes gets overlooked are personal and corporate donations.  These are so important in helping to meet our financial obligations and are very much appreciated. 

You can make an online contribution by going to the Tulsa Master Gardeners website and donate directly through PayPal. For other information on how you can help support all that the Tulsa Master Gardeners do for their community, contact the Tulsa Master Gardeners Office by calling 918-746-3701.  Thank you! 

4 Ways to Contact Us
Email us at:

See our website at: www.tulsamastergardeners.org 

Call: 918-746-3701 from 9-4, Monday - Friday 
Visit us at 4116 E. 15th Street, Gate 6 at the Fairgrounds

Whether you call or bring samples of plants to the office, trained Master Gardeners will answer your gardening questions with science-based information.
Need More

Click on any of the links below:


All about butterfly gardening in Tulsa County 

How to Take a Soil Test

How to collect a good sample of soil from your lawn or garden and get it tested at the OSU lab.
Understanding Your Soil Test Results
Once you have collected your soil test and gotten the results back, now what? Find out here. 
How to Plant a Tree in Oklahoma Soil
Show and tell.
Cool Season Lawn Care (Fescue)
12-month maintenance calendar.
Warm-Season Lawn Care (Bermuda)
Ditto above.
Trees for Tulsa
A list of recommended trees with descriptions.
A list of over 60, by size and color.
Demonstration Garden
Visit our demonstration garden on 
15th Street, open 7 days a week.  
Oklahoma Proven Plants
State horticulturists, nurseries and growers pick favorite plants, shrubs and trees for use in the Oklahoma landscape. See the winners for this year and years past.
Current and historical source of rainfall, air temperatures, soil temps and much more. Click on Bixby station.  

Back Issues  

Past issues of our eNewsletters can be read and downloaded.

Become a Master Gardener

Classes start in September each year. Register at our office on 15th Street for more information.

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services.
October Garden, Lawn, & Landscape Tips

  • Dig sweet potatoes and harvest pumpkins and winter squash.
  • Remove green fruit from tomato plants when frost threatens.
  • Harvest Oriental persimmons and pawpaws as they begin to change color.
  • There is still time to plant radishes and mustard in the fall garden.
  • Use a cold frame device to plant spinach, lettuce and various other cool-season crops for production most of the winter.
  • You can continue to replant or establish cool-season lawns like fescue.
  • The mowing height for fescue should be lowered to approximately 2½ inches for fall and winter cutting.
  • Broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be easily controlled during October (HLA-6601).
  • Mow and neatly edge warm-season lawns before killing frost.

  • Plant cool-season annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller when temperatures begin to cool.
  • Begin planting spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, crocus and daffodils.
  • Good companion plants for bulbs are ground covers such as ajuga, vinca, English ivy, alyssum, moneywort, thrift, phlox, oxalis and leadwort.
  • Peonies, daylilies, and other spring-flowering perennials should be divided or planted now.
  • Dig and store tender perennials like cannas, dahlias, and caladiums in a cool, dry location.
  • Purchase trees from nurseries and garden centers at this time to select the fall color you prefer.
  • Plant container-grown trees and shrubs this month.
  • Many perennials can be planted at this time and the selection is quite nice.
  • Plant fall mums and asters and keep them watered during dry conditions.  Don't crowd since they take a couple of years to reach maturity.
  • Check and treat houseplants for insect pests before bringing them indoors and repot rootbound plants.


  • Take tropical water garden plants indoors when water temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Close the water garden for the winter by placing hardy plants in the deeper areas of the pool.  Stop feeding the fish.
  • Cover water gardens with bird netting to catch dropping leaves during the winter months.

Brief Weather Update

According to the National Weather Service, Northeastern Oklahoma is experiencing moderate drought conditions.  This is especially important to know if you have recently planted any trees or shrubs and is not a good way to head into winter.  If we do not have significant rainfall in the next few weeks, you will need to provide adequate water to your plantings.  Drought is a recurring part of Oklahoma's climate cycle, as it is in all of the Plains states.  Almost all of Oklahoma's usable surface water comes from precipitation that falls within the state's borders.  Therefore, drought in Oklahoma is tied almost entirely to local rainfall patterns.

Freshly installed plants will need to be watered in all seasons, including winter, for two to three years in order to get well established.  Until the roots grow into the surrounding soil, the plant can dehydrate even though the bed soil is damp.  Be aware that winter drought can stress plants as readily as a hot summer drought.  And, s now doesn't necessarily count!  It takes 5-10 inches of snow to yield just one inch of water.  Keep your plants well mulched to provide insulation and to help retain moisture.  

Check the Oklahoma Mesonet ( www.mesonet.org ) for dependable information on soil moisture any time of the year.


Proper Tree Planting

It's that time of year again where tree enthusiasts dig in and plant trees.  All across Oklahoma opportunities abound to plant flowering trees, fruit trees and trees that will one day reach heights well beyond thirty feet. The proper time to plant a tree is from October to March, essentially from fall to early spring. During that time, a newly planted tree has an opportunity to attach itself to the soil, benefit from the organic matter and countless organisms that together support its life.

Trees that are plant-ready come in either a container or what is referred to as ball and burlap (B&B).  The following are general instructions to ensure proper planting and thus providing the tree with a strong chance for success.
Proper Planting for Ball and Burlap
  1. First, dig a saucer-shaped hole that 2-3 times the diameter and as deep as the root ball.  These dimensions will provide the proper space and encourage root growth. Make certain to measure the depth so theroot collar is at or just above ground level.
  2. Place the tree in the center of the hole.  If you have to move the tree after it is set in the hole, handle it by the root ball.  As you continue to position the tree, check the depth.  If the root collar is below ground level place some soil underneath the root ball in order to elevate it to just above ground level.
  3. After placing the tree in position, use a wire cutter to remove wires and strings. Remove what burlap is possible without disturbing the root ball.
  4. Step a few feet away from the tree and make certain it's straight before firmly packing the soil around the root ball with backfill. Do not add any amendments to the native soil before backfilling.
  5. Burm the soil at the holes edge to contain water. Once the water soaks in, spread 2-4 inches of loose mulch around the tree, making certain to keep the it a minimum of 4 inches away from the trunk.
  6. In the weeks following your planting, keep the soil and mulch moist, not soggy and water at the drip line. Trees need at least 1 inch of water per week by irrigation or rainfall.
  7. Make certain to remove all tags and labels from the tree and prune any broken or dead branches.

Proper Planting for Trees in Containers

  1. Remove the tree from the container and identify the trunk flare.  It's the area where the trunk expands at the base of the tree. This area needs to be level with, or above, the soil grade, never below. 
  2. Dig a shallow, broad planting hole 2 to 3 times wider than the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball.  Digging a broad planting pit breaks up the surrounding soil and provides newly emerging tree roots ample room to expand. 
  3. Place the tree at the proper height taking care to dig the hole to the proper depth. The majority of a tree's roots develop in the top 12 inches of soil so. Planting trees too deep is a major cause loss during the first 3 years.
  4. Straighten the tree in the hole.  Before completely backfilling, look at the tree from several directions to confirm that it is straight.
  5. Fill the hole gently, but firmly.  Pack soil around the base of the root ball to stabilize it.
  6. Stake the tree if necessary, especially if windy or on a slope or if it comes as a bare root plant.  Studies have shown that trees grow much faster if they are not staked at the time of planting. Always remove the support and ties after the first year.
  7. Mulch the base of the tree to hold moisture, to moderate soil temperature extremes, and to reduce grass and weed competition.  Use no more than 2-4 inches of loose mulch.
  8. Keep the soil moist.  For follow-up care, water trees at least once a week and more frequently during hot, windy weather.  When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. Trees need supplemental water at all seasons for the first 3 years.


Additional follow-up care for all trees may include minor pruning of branches damaged during the planting process.  Prune carefully after planting and avoid unnecessary corrective pruning until a full season of growth in the new location has occurred.


A Winter's Nap for Caladiums

A winter nap in the garage works wonders!
Tropicals such as caladiums and banana trees are beautiful, but will not survive Oklahoma winter temperatures.  Other tropicals such as cannas and elephant ears usually can be left in the ground if covered with a thick layer of mulch. Those which are removed may stored indoors. Such carry-over of planting stock can considerably reduce cost for the following season!
After the first fall frost, gently lift the healthy plants and cut back the stem to the soil line. Leave the ball of roots intact. Remove the soil and allow bulbs to air dry.  Cut off any rotted spots, and dust with a fungicide.  Store the tubers at 50°F in low humidity.  Pack them in dry peat, sand, sawdust, or vermiculite to prevent excessive moisture loss.
The now dormant bulbs need the right climate to survive the winter. They love basements, cellars, crawlspaces and garages.  Check them monthly for signs of rotting or shriveling.  Spray any shriveled bulbs with a bit of water to revive them.
Storing the dormant bulbs will allow you to get a jump start next spring.  Re-pot the bulbs in early March and keep indoors.  After May 1st, they can be moved or re-planted outdoors.
What to do with the banana tree over the winter?  If it was grown in a container, cut it down at pot level after a light frost darkens the foliage.  Move the container to a dark area of about 40-45 degrees and keep the soil on the dry side.  In early spring you will see a new shoot coming from the center of the cut stump - your new tree!  In the spring, after the last frost, haul the container outdoors and provide moisture and fertilize. 
If the banana was grown directly in the ground, dig it up after the first frost but don't cut it back.  Wrap the root ball and long trunk in a black plastic garbage bag and store it in a dark area at 40 to 45 degrees.  In the spring, cut it back to four inches above the root ball.  Pot it up and stand back!
Palms, hibiscus, angel trumpet, tuberous begonias and ferns can also be stored in a cool location as dormant plants and then brought back to life in the spring!  Remember to minimize their water to keep them sleeping through the winter.
Click below to read more about overwintering:

Shrubs for Fall and Winter Color

Fall can be a riotous time of purple, orange and red colors in your garden.  Now is the time to shop for those vivid colors and here are a few cultivars to consider.  They have been selected because they tolerate Oklahoma's temperature extremes.  They are void of serious pest problems and often times provide attractive fruit or bark.
 Beautyberry Callicarpa Japonica Species


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil and in full sun to part shade, they also have some drought tolerance.  They flower best and fruiting is in full sun.  They flower on new wood and should be pruned, if needed, in early spring. Stems may die back to the ground in winter with new growth emerging from the roots in spring.
This is a deciduous shrub that typically grows to 4-5' tall and to 6-8' wide with slender, upright-arching branches whose tips may dip to the ground.  Its best ornamental feature is its fruit.  Clusters of small, lavender-pink flowers which bloom in the leaf axils in summer are followed by large clusters of bright, glossy, amethyst-purple fruits which ripen in late summer and put on their best show through October.  Plantings: foundation; border, mass planting, container or above ground planter, naturalizing.

Quince, Flowering (Chaenomeles species)

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.  Best flowering occurs in full sun.  Occasional renewal pruning in spring after flowering will improve the bloom for the following year.
This flowering quince variety is a dwarf, deciduous shrub which typically grows to only 1' tall and features a network of interlaced, thorny stems. Orange-red flowers bloom in early spring before developing dark green foliage. Small, pleasantly scented, apple-like, greenish yellow fruit (quinces) ripen in the fall and, although quite bitter and unappetizing when fresh, may be used in jellies and preserves.
Harry Lauder's Walkingstick

This walking stick is commonly called Corkscrew Hazelnut or Contorted Filbert.  Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.  Separate male and female flowers grow on the plant. Male flowers appear in spring in showy, 2-3" long, yellowish brown catkins.  Female flowers are insignificant.  Round, double-toothed, light green leaves (2-3" long) typically turn to an undistinguished yellow in the fall.  After leaf drop, the contorted form of the branches becomes quite noticeable and provides winter interest.

Ninebark Purple Diablo

Perfect as a border, screen, hedge or specimen plant, Ninebark will grow 5-10' tall and 6-10' wide and is virtually indestructible. Plants can be rejuvenated by heavy pruning in the early spring. Brown bark exfoliates during the winter adding seasonal beauty. The Diablo has stunning reddish purple foliage. Ninebark may be planted in full sun and will flower during May and June with clusters of white to slightly pink flowers.
When selecting shrubs for your landscape consider height, width, shape, foliage color, texture and fruiting habits to obtain the right plant for your design.
For a list of over 70 recommended fall and winter shrubs and photos, go to the OSU Fact Sheet  HLA-6439 "Selecting Shrubs for the Landscape".


TLC For Perennials

Fall Care

Cut back most perennials to about 3 to 6 inches above the ground in fall or spring.  If the growing season has been dry, water deeply in fall and keep watered, if no rain, all winter.  Remove and dispose of diseased or insect-infested foliage and try to keep weed-free. Now is the time to plan for and create new flowerbeds to be ready for spring planting. Also, consider collecting and saving all your seeds to plant next year.
Winter Mulching

Many perennials benefit from a protective layer of much during winter.  It serves as a dual purpose; it keeps conserves moisture and acts as winter insulation.  Wait until after a couple of frosts before you mulch to allow the soil to cool, which insures winter dormancy.  Even though many plants appreciate protective winter mulch, there are some perennials that perform best without it (see below).

Winter Watering

Remember to provide winter water to all of your perennials during drought.  Water every 4- 6 weeks during these dry periods. Most plants do best in well drained soils if they receive 1 inch of water per week, in all seasons.


One of the best things about perennials is that they grow bigger and better each year.  But many will start to crowd their centers and perform poorly after a few years.  Keep them performing well by digging them out of the ground and splitting them into smaller chunks every 3-4 years.  The best time to divide a plant is when they are dormant . . . either in the early season or in the fall before the ground freezes.

Perennials that prefer no additional mulch through winter:
Aster                                               Black-eyed Susan  
Blanket flower                                 Creeping Phlox
Shasta Daisy                                     Chrysanthemum 
Daylily                                             Delphinium  
Dianthus (Pinks)                                Evening Primrose  
Oenothera                                        Linum
Dictamnus                                        Geranium    
Globe Thistle                                    Grasses/Ornamental grasses
Hens & Chicks                                   Iris    
Lamb's ear                                        Larkspur    
Delphinium                                        Mexican Hat   
Ratibida                                            Pasqueflower   
Pulsatilla                                           Poppy    
Purple Coneflower                              Echinacea  
Pussy-toes                                          Antennaria 
Rockcress                                          Russian Sage  
Perovskia                                           Salvia   
Silvermound                                       Artemesia
Soapwort                                           Saponaria
Snow-in-summer                                 Cerastium 
Spiderwort                                          Spurge   
Stonecrop                                           Sedum 
Sulfur Flower                                      Sunrose   
Tansy                                                 Thrift, Sea Pink 
Thyme                                                Valerian    
Yarrow                                                Peonies
Tender perennials that prefer extra mulch throughout the winter:
Plumbago Ceratostigma
English Daisy                                      
False Mallow
St. John's Wort
PIncushion Flower

Proper Pesticide Use

First off, what is a PESTICIDE?  It is a material that can be used to control plant or animal life that is considered to be a pest by killing or repelling its existence.  This includes many types such as herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.  Herbicides are for getting rid of unwanted vegetation; Insecticides are for handling unwanted insects; Fungicides are for prevention of molds and mildews.  It also includes rodenticides (for control of rodents), as well as growth regulators.
Many times the application of pesticides may be uncalled for so it is very important that  before purchasing and using a pesticide that you determine what problem you have and how it should be dealt with.  You must identify the type of pest(s), then proceed to purchase the recommended pesticide.  It is extremely important that the instructions on the label be read and obeyed to the letter - use the pesticide only as directed.  The old idea that "More is Better" does not work in this case.
Identification of pest problems can be difficult and hard to come by.  However, there are  several ways that this can be done.   You can either contact the OSU Extension office be phone to visit with our Master Gardener volunteers (918-746-3701) or you can come by the OSU Extension Office (on 15th street between Yale and Harvard at the Fairgrounds Gate #6).   Having actual damaged plants or pictures of plant damage is very helpful in determining plant problems.  In the most difficult situations the problem(s) will be sent to OSU agents in Stillwater for analysis.
When using pesticides, it is very important that you mix and use only the amount called for in each application as it is prescribed on the label.  Since pesticides do not store very well when watered down, they tend to lose their effectiveness.  Before purchasing pesticides, you should make sure of the following:

  • The plant(s) your going to treat are listed on the label
  • Pesticides listed for ornamentals should not be used on plants to be eaten.
  • Pesticides listed for "outdoor"  should not be used "indoor".
  • Pesticides used for some plants can damage others, so make sure your use is listed on the label.
Also, it is important that for any long-term storage, you keep a pesticide in its original container.  This helps to prevent the mis-usage that may kill or harm your plants.   It is also recommended that you do not store any mixed pesticides for long periods.
For more information about Pesticides and Pest Identification contact the MG office  or use our web site (tulsamastergardeners.org).   


Question:  Can milkweed seeds be harvested?  If so, when and how?


Yes, but . . . the timing of the collection of milkweed pods or seeds is critical.  Mature pods are those that are within a day or two of opening.  If you squeeze the pods and they don't open easily, they usually do not contain mature brown seeds.  Seeds well into the process of browning and hardening will germinate when planted the next season.  Pale or white seeds should not be saved.  Freshly collected pods should be dried in an open area with good air circulation.  Once the pods are thoroughly dry, the seeds can be separated by hand from the coma, the silk-like fibers that help the seed "fly" in the wind.
Vernalization is a fancy way of saying that the seeds need a cold treatment.  The easiest way to do this is to place the seeds between layers of moist paper towels in a resealable plastic bag for approximately six weeks.  Without this step, the percentage of seed germination is usually low.  "Shocking" seeds that have been refrigerated by soaking them in warm water for 24 hours also appears to improve germination rates.
Most milkweed species evolved in open areas where they were exposed to full sunlight and they will do best if they are planted in the sunniest areas of your garden.

For more information, go to www.monarchwatch.org, a service of Kansas University.


Question:   Recently, I have seen many small branches from the tips of my oak tree lying on the ground.  They are quite messy and I have to pick several up each day.  What gives?


These small branches accumulating on the ground are a good indicator of an insect called a twig girdler.
The twig girdler is a small beetle that has one generation in Oklahoma per growing season. Some indicators that these branches lying on the ground are due to twig girdlers include: the presence of clean-cut twigs, and/or dangling (flagged) branch tips within a tree. The Twig girdler female chews a V-shaped groove around a small twig, girdling it. She then will lay an egg underneath the bark on the girdled limb. This portion of the limb dies quickly and will fall to the ground with the larva inside. The small larva will overwinter in the fallen twig. During the following spring, the larva resumes feeding, consuming most of the wood. As the larva grows it bores further down into the twig and fills the tunnel with wood shavings and waste. Pupation occurs in a cavity within the twig. Adults emerge in late summer and early fall.
Twig girdlers are a pest that can be managed easily with good sanitation practices. Homeowners should collect and destroy infested twigs and branches they find on the ground, beginning in the fall or early spring. This will eliminate the overwintering larvae. Infested limbs should also be pruned out and burned, if feasible. Sanitation is a cheap environmentally friendly way to manage these pests, especially for small plantings.