Tuesday, October 17, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

How to Prepare Tropical Plants for Moving Indoors for Winter

Moving Plants indoors for Winter
Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday October 17, 2017
Q: I moved my indoor plants outdoors for the summer as they seem to enjoy it out there. Now that the weather is getting cooler, I want to move them back indoors. What do I need to do to make that move a success for them? Lisa M., Tulsa
A: Houseplants that spent their summer vacations outside are nearing time to be brought indoors. Because tropical plants may be damaged if nighttime temperatures drop into the low 40s, start bringing your plants in when nighttime temperatures start dipping below 45 to 50 degrees.
While outdoors, your plants may have picked up one of several insects, such as spider mites or mealybugs. Inspect the leaves for insects or evidence of insects, such as webbing, wet sticky areas or yellow-speckled leaves. Look in the top layer of potting soil for pill bugs and slugs. Inspect and thoroughly clean the sides and bottom of the pot and its saucer.
If you find insects, a chemical insecticide may be needed. However, if there are only a few insects, consider a different approach. A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol is excellent for removing small numbers of insects. Be sure to follow this by thoroughly hosing the plant with a stream of water, even if you do not see insects, as this will help remove any hidden pests, as well as clean the leaves.
For further pest avoidance, you may wish to spray the plant with an insecticidal soap or light horticultural oil according to the product’s label. You may also mix a dilute solution of an insecticidal soap and pour through the soil, then flush the soil after 15 minutes with fresh water.
Before moving the plants indoors, especially if they have been in the sun, first move them into shade, gradually reducing lighting for at least one month before bringing them inside. Plants, especially ferns, may drop some leaves due to this transition from sun to shade. Once they are brought back into the house, be aware of how much light they are receiving.
For regularly fertilized plants, now is also a good time to leach the soil. Fertilizers cause accumulation of salt residues in potting soil, which is bad for the plant’s health. Running water through the soil and allowing it to completely drain will remove these salts. Irrigate with a volume of water approximately twice the size of the pot. Do this twice yearly.
Reduce the amount of watering and do not fertilize during the winter months. Plants do need some moist air, so a humidifier or bowls of water nearby will help to keep them healthy, but never put them near a heat vent. Plants will typically do better in a 60- to 70-degree environment, rather than overheated rooms. Finally, unless they are extremely overcrowded in the pot, it is best to wait until spring to repot them.
In the spring, wait until outside temperatures are above 50 degrees, then place them in a protected area out of any sun. Repot, fertilize, water and enjoy. Do keep in mind that some houseplants want to stay inside all year, so look up your plants’ needs in a good indoor garden book.
Garden tips

Peonies, daylilies, and other spring-flowering perennials should be divided or planted now.

Dig and store tender perennials like dahlias and caladiums in a cool, dry location. Cannas and elephant ears can also be dug, but most will survive the winter fine if mulched heavily and in a sheltered area.

Plant fall mums and asters and keep them watered during dry conditions. Don’t crowd because they take a couple of years to reach maturity.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Fall is the Best Time To Plant Trees and Shrubs

Planting Trees and Shrubs in Fall is Best
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Q: I’ve heard fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Is this true? LK
A: In some ways, this may seem counter-intuitive, but fall is indeed the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. The reason for this is that trees and shrubs planted at this time have the fall, winter and spring to develop a healthy root system before our Oklahoma summer arrives.
The best way to help a young tree or shrub acclimate to its new home is to dig the hole two to three times the diameter of the root ball and no deeper than the root ball itself. If you have hard clay soil, you should plant trees and shrubs 1-2 inches above grade. For sandy soils, plant at grade level.
Plan on keeping a 4- to 6-foot grass-free mulched circle around young trees or shrubs for at least 2-3 years. This mulch should be 2-4 inches deep. Be sure to use some kind of organic mulch, such as compost, bark, grass clippings or straw. Do not use plastic under the mulch to prevent weeds, as this will limit your tree’s or shrub’s access to water.
New trees and shrubs have a limited ability to utilize fertilizer until they have an established root system, therefore, fertilization is often not recommended at the time of planting. Optimally, young trees and shrubs can be fertilized from March through July. But, before adding fertilizer, we recommend you get a soil test from the OSU Extension so you know which elements are needed in your soil.
On average, young trees and shrubs need 1 inch of water per week whether this comes from rain or hand watering. In dry conditions, newly planted trees and shrubs may need to be watered 2-3 times per week as their root systems have not developed to the point where they can replenish the water they are losing through their leaves.
Some young trees will need to be staked if top heavy or planted in windy areas. If this is the case, use only the quantity of stakes necessary and leave it a little bit of room to move, as this is how the trunk develops strength. When stakes are left in place longer than 2 years, the tree’s ability to stand on its own will be compromised.
Young trees with thin bark, such as ash, birch, linden or maple, should have their trunks wrapped with a paper tree wrap during winter for the first two years if they are exposed to the southwest winter sun. The heating and cooling by the sun during winter can cause bark damage from which the tree never recovers.
We have quite a bit of information at our Diagnostic Center on varieties of trees and shrubs that do well in our area. Give us a call or drop by; we would love to help you find the perfect addition to your home.
Garden tips
·        Plant cool-season annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller when temperatures begin to cool.
·        Prune trees or shrubs anytime there are dead or diseased limbs. Do not perform routine pruning now. Pruning before winter dormancy may stimulate new growth sensitive to the cold. Fall pruning also removes energy stores needed for winter survival. Prune summer-blooming plants in late winter before spring growth starts, and prune spring-blooming plants after blooming is completed.
·        Continue to replant or establish cool-season lawns like fescue. Mow and neatly edge warm-season grasses before the first killing frost.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Fall a Good Time to Divide Iris and Lilies

Dividing Iris and Daylilies
Allan Robinson: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Q: When should I divide my irises and daylilies? And how should this be done? Francis R., Tulsa
A: Irises 
Of the many types of irises, the most commonly grown are hybrids or bearded irises. Bearded irises are the ones that have a hair-like structure on one of their lower flower blades, along with showy, multicolored blossoms.
They usually bloom in spring or early summer but then go dormant until the fall. These irises should be divided every three to four years during late summer to early fall.
Irises have a root-like structure called a rhizome from which they reproduce. It is a slender potato-like structure. As a plant grows and blooms, it produces small baby rhizomes at the edge of the mother plant.
It’s these young rhizomes that produce new plants. The mother rhizome will not bloom again. These new rhizomes will have small buds where they will produce new plants.
To divide: Dig up the whole structure, trim the iris blades to 6-8 inches in length and separate out the new rhizomes by cutting or breaking away from the parent structure. The goal is to get young rhizomes that have one to three small buds, along with a few healthy leaves and some roots. Discard the rhizomes that are mushy or appear diseased.
To prepare the soil: The new planting area should be prepared beforehand. Irises do well in a range of full sun to afternoon shade, but they must be planted in well-drained soil to prevent rot. If you have a clay soil, incorporate several inches of organic compost to aid in drainage. A slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil is optional, but beware that too much nitrogen will increase disease susceptibility.
When planting, cover the roots well, but the rhizome should be shallow, preferably less than 1 inch deep with the top of the rhizome slightly out of the ground. If planted any deeper, it likely will not bloom. Do not mulch, as it may cause disease.
Dividing and transplanting bearded irises will improve health and produce more blossoms, but be aware that they may not bloom the first year after moving.
Division of daylilies, as well as hostas, may be done in either the spring or fall. But in our area, fall division is preferable as replanting will allow for considerable root growth before next spring.
Before digging, trim the leaves to 6 inches or so and water the plants to loosen the soil. Dig the plant with a large root ball and wash the soil from the roots with a hose. This will allow you to tease out individual plants without cutting them. The goal is to have plants with three or more leaf fans and a healthy-looking clump of roots. A large clump of daylilies may yield several new plants for you and your gardening friends.
When replanting, prepare your site beforehand by mixing in a generous amount of good organic compost and making sure the new location will get several hours of sunlight. Adding a slow-release fertilizer into the soil at planting is optional.
Garden tips
·       Begin preparing your outdoor plants for a move indoors. Move houseplants indoors when the outside and indoor temperatures are about the same. For plants in full sun, move to shade. Begin with light and then heavier shade over a week’s time to prepare the plant for the low light indoors. If you move the plant from full sun to a low-light indoor situation, the plant may experience “shock,” lose leaves and perform poorly inside.
·       Inspect plants for insects and disease and treat accordingly. In many cases, a few insects can be controlled by hosing down the plant and removing by hand. Another option is to use an insecticidal soap spray. This is effective and safe for you and your plant.
·       Also consider drenching the pot with 2-3 pot volumes of water to help remove insects and residual fertilizer salts.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Fall is the Best Time to Reseed Fescue

Reseeding Fescue in the Fall
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener
September 19, 2017
Q: My fescue thinned out during the summer. How should I reseed it and when is the best time? SJ
A: Tulsa is located right between the ideal climates for growing turfgrass. Warm-season grasses do much better south of here, and cool-season grasses do better north of here. As you can imagine, this complicates our turf choices and how we care for those grasses.
Fescue is a good choice for areas of your landscape that are shaded, although no grass can grow without any sun. Fescue thrives in spring and fall, stays green in winter but struggles with Oklahoma summers. As a result, most of us need to re-seed our fescue each year to keep a healthy, thick turf.
Cool-season grasses, like fescue, germinate best when the soil temperature is in the 70-degree range. This happens in the spring and the fall, but fall is the best time to re-seed as this gives the turf more time to develop a healthy root system. The last half of September through the first half of October usually gives us the soil temperatures we need.
For best results, we recommend purchasing seed with a blend of at least three different types of seed, rather than a single cultivar. Doing this not only increases your likelihood of success, but also by combining grasses, the incidence of disease is typically reduced, as each type tends to mask the weaknesses of the others.
It is also a good idea to prepare your soil, rather than just sprinkle seed on the ground. The upper layer of soil can develop a crust so seeds dropped on this hard surface will either blow or wash away before they have a chance to germinate. Breaking up the soil can be done with a rake or by perhaps renting a tiller or verticutter for difficult situations.
Seed should be sown evenly with either a rotary or drop spreader. A drop spreader gives you more control over where your seed goes but either will work. Fescue seed should be applied at a rate of 3-6 pounds per 1,000 square feet when reseeding and a rate of 6-8 pounds per 1,000 square feet when seeding a new lawn.
The seeds must have water to germinate, which may mean watering twice a day for a few minutes for the first 2-3 weeks. Once the seedlings are 1-2 inches tall, you can begin watering less frequently and for longer periods.

Fertilization will also be necessary, and we recommend getting a soil test from the OSU Extension so that you will know exactly which nutrients your soil requires for best performance.
We have quite a bit of information at our Diagnostic Center and on our website, tulsamastergardeners.org, to help you maintain your new and existing turf. Ask for fact sheet HLA-6419.
Garden tips

·        Watch for fall specials at garden centers and nurseries because fall is a great time for planting many ornamentals. Choose spring-flowering bulbs as soon as available.
·        Fertilize established fescue lawns with one pound of actual nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet now and again in November. Do not fertilize Bermuda or zoysia lawns until next spring. Late fertilization of these warm-season grasses may promote disease.
·        Winter broadleaf weeds like dandelion will begin to emerge in late September, which is also the best time to control them with a 2, 4-D type herbicide.
·        September and early October is garlic-planting time with an aim for harvest in June of next year. There are many varieties from which to choose. OSU suggests German Red, Inchilium Red, Silverskin and Spanish Roja for varieties, which do well in our area.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Most Wasps are Beneficial

Wasps Should be Respected, But Most Are Beneficial

Allan Robinson: Ask a Master Gardener

Tuesday Sept. 12, 2017

Q: I have noticed a lot of wasps buzzing around and landing in my yard lately. What is going on, and should I be concerned? Beth H., Tulsa
A: There are several types of wasps that we encounter throughout the year. The more popular ones are red wasps and yellow jackets, both of which are quite aggressive toward humans and produce a painful sting. But there are a couple of other less common wasps that are much more beneficial, as they tend to attack other pests rather than humans.
First, digger wasps come in many sizes and colors including yellow/black-striped, black, blue, brown, white/orange or yellow. In general, they will use the same area of the yard over and over until their population is eradicated. While they are not aggressive and do not defend their nests, stay clear of them because their sting and venom may cause an unexpected allergic reaction. The first year these pests start to nest, they usually go unnoticed but then grow exponentially each year thereafter. Working in the same area, most prefer to dig in bare ground between grass and plants, through cement mortar joints and even under walkways. Most are predatory feeders, foraging for grubs, small flying insects and ground-dwelling pests. Once food is found, it is stung to death, brought back to the nest and buried. Eggs will be laid on it so that hatching larva will have a ready food supply.
They are generally beneficial and do not need to be controlled. But if you choose to do so, control is fast, easy and effective once the general nest site has been found, using an insecticide dust labeled for wasps. It generally works as a desiccant and will dehydrate all active wasp stages in just a few minutes.
Secondly, the cicada killer is a large black, orange and yellow wasp that prefers to nest in bare areas around homes and in flower beds feeding on flower nectar. The females catch and paralyze cicadas, place them in a burrow in the soil and lay an egg on them to provide a fresh food source for their larva. Because they specialize on one type of prey, they tend to become more numerous as cicada activity increases in late summer and fall.
In spite of its formidable size and burrowing habit, this wasp is unusually docile and harmless. Although capable of inflicting a painful sting, the female cicada killer wasp is usually difficult to provoke. Mating males are aggressive and are more easily disturbed but cannot sting. An unsightly mound of soil surrounds the burrow of each cicada killer as they prefer to nest in areas of sparse vegetation.
Garden tips
·        Now is a good time to submit a soil sample to the OSU Extension office for testing. Do this before reseeding fescue or creating a garden bed this fall. Call the Master Gardener office at 918-746-3701 for instructions.
·        Tall fescue should be mowed at 3 inches and up to 3½ inches if it grows under heavier shade. Don’t fertilize fescue lawns until it cools in September, then fertilize again in November.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Attracting Birds into the Landscape

Attracting Birds to the Landscape
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Q: I love watching the birds. What can I do to help attract more birds to our yard? SM
A: Birds are not only beautiful and fun to watch, but they also help manage insect populations and maintain an ecological balance in outdoor environments. To attract birds, you are going to need three things: food, water and shelter.
Many plants are beautiful but not all provide a food source for birds. Filling the yard with plants that bear fruit or seeds are best for habitat development. Native plants are always a good option, as native birds are adapted to these plants that are often drought-, heat- and cold-tolerant, as well as proven bird attractors.
Vines on fences are also prime real estate for food, nesting and shelter. Clematis, honeysuckle and grapes would fit in this category.
A healthy lawn can also contribute to attracting birds, such as robins, mockingbirds and flickers, as they love to eat insects and worms.
You may want to consider supplemental feeding via a bird feeder, especially in bad winter weather. Just remember not to locate your feeder closer than 10 feet to shrubs and trees so birds have time to escape in times of danger.
A source for water is often overlooked but is nevertheless an important component in your bird sanctuary. When we think water for birds, we typically think birdbaths. However, a variety of water features or fountains may make for a more interesting water source. Whatever you choose, the water should not be more than two inches deep and have a clear area of 10 feet in diameter to prevent predators from sneaking up on your birds while they are enjoying the water. A rock in the water for standing is also a good idea. Be sure to wash your water feature every three or four days and disinfect with bleach once or twice a year.
Last but not least is shelter. Shelter can be provided in a variety of ways. A pile of broken branches or pruning clippings will attract cardinals, wrens, towhees and sparrows. Trees and shrubs with dense branches, leaves or perhaps thorns will also provide excellent shelter. In addition, birdhouses or nest boxes can be added to your landscape.
We have an excellent fact sheet with information on Landscaping and Gardening for Birds that is available on our website, tulsamastergardeners.org, or by contacting the Master Gardener office. Ask for fact sheet #HLA-6435.
Garden tips
·        In fall, strawberry plants build up food reserves and form fruit buds for the next year’s crop. They should be fertilized between mid-August and mid-September with a nitrogen fertilizer such as ammonium sulfate at a rate of 1.5 pounds per 100-foot row. Apply 1 inch of water if no rain is expected.
·        You have all of September to plant cool-season vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce, mustard and radishes, and until the middle of September to plant rutabagas, Swiss chard, garlic and turnips.
·        The last nitrogen fertilizer application of the year on warm-season grasses should be applied no later than Sept. 15.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 0 comments By: Jack Downer

Fairy Rings are Varieties of Common Mushrooms

Fairy Ring Type of Mushrooms
Brian Jervis: Ask A Master Gardener
Tuesday, August 19, 2017
Q: There are mushrooms all over my yard and that of my neighbor’s. Are they harmful? What should I do about them? Tom B., Jenks
A: The summer of 2017 has been a bit abnormal. We have had few century-degree days and much more rain than usual. While the rain is truly beneficial to our flower beds, gardens and lawns, it can cause other undesirable issues, such as mushrooms and fairy rings.
Mushrooms are actually part of a fungus that grows underground, well hidden from sight. Your yard is naturally full of fungi (plural for fungus) and spores, some harmless and some problematic. Fungi are interesting as they are one of the few things in our yard that do not get their nutrients from photosynthesis. Fungi receive nutrients by either decomposing or consuming organic matter.
Another phenomenon of mushrooms is commonly known as a fairy ring. These rings are also known as fairy circle, elf circle, elf ring or pixie ring and are produced by many varieties of underground fungi. Fairy rings are simply an organized pattern of fungi, typically circular in nature. They typically expand from a central point into an arc or circle and are particularly noticeable when they grow in our lawns.
The ring’s appearance is variable and may occur in all types of turf grass. They may appear as green rings, brown rings or simply a ring of mushrooms. The rings range from a few inches to many feet across and may persist for years.
The fungus that causes these rings feeds on organic matter in the soil. As it feeds, it frees up the nutrient nitrogen in the organics, accounting for the dark green rings. Typically, most lawn fungi and their mushrooms don’t actually harm the health of a lawn. However, in some cases, the older fungal mass may be dense enough to prevent water penetration and actually starve the grass from nutrients, thus producing a ring of dehydrated dead grass.
Mushrooms, toadstools or puffballs may appear overnight, especially after a rain. They are the fleshly, spore-bearing fruiting bodies of the underground fungi. To be on the safe side, all of these mushrooms and puffballs should be considered poisonous and should be removed as soon as possible.
Management is not easy. Once the disease appears, it is difficult to eliminate. There is no natural control. Most people opt for greening the lawn with recommended amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, which effectively masks/hides the ring but does not eliminate it. Other measures you can take: remove mushrooms by regular mowing or raking; water deeply to minimize the loss of grass due to the fungal dehydration; remove excess thatch and aerate compacted soils; encourage beneficial soil microbes by top dressing with a humus builder, such as well-aged manure or finished compost. However, if grass is lost, reseeding or re-sodding may be needed.
There are fungicides labeled for fairy ring control, but most are not effective and usually require a certified professional for application. Your mantra should be to fertilize, water, aerate and mow. Unfortunately, the only option for complete elimination of the fungus is to remove and replace the soil and grass.
Garden tips
·        Always follow directions on the labels of synthetic and natural pesticide products. Labels will always list where the product may be used and which pest it is certified to cover. If you spray pesticides, do it early in the morning or late in the evening after bees have returned to their colony.
·        If your tomatoes are too tall and gangly, now is a good time to prune the top of the plants by as much as ⅓ to ½, depending on the plant. This will stimulate new limb growth and new fruit production after it cools.

·        Reseeding fescue is best done from mid-September through mid-October. If you plan on reseeding, begin scouting for good seed, there is no “best” variety. Purchase a fescue blend of three or more varieties, with or without Kentucky bluegrass. Read the label on the seed bag. A good blend will have 0.01 percent or less of undesirable “other crop” seeds.