Sunday, May 27, 2018 1 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Match Plants for your Soil and Weather Environment


Selecting the Proper Plants for Your Gardening Conditions
Tom Ingram: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, May 27, 2018
Q: I am planning on making some improvements and enhancements to my garden this year. With so many options, how do I decide which flowers and shrubs would be best for my garden? DS
A: The first thing to consider is the sun. A site would be considered full sun if it gets 6 or more hours of sunlight each day. Part sun would be 4-6 hours and shaded would be less than 4 hours of sunlight per day. Almost every plant you consider is going to have a sun rating on its tag. Pay attention to it. If you purchase a plant that wants full sun and you place it in a shady location, it will not thrive, may not bloom and may not even make it.
When considering the sun, also consider environmental hot spots, such as along a wooden fence or against the house. These structures can decrease circulation and increase ambient temperature to the point only the strongest can survive.
If you are considering a location close to the house, take into consideration which side of the house. The north side tends to get less sun. The east gets primarily the cooler morning sun. And the south and west sides will get the sun in the hottest part of the day, so plant accordingly.
Soil type is another important consideration. Do you have sandy soil or a more clay-like soil? Sandy soils will drain quicker, where clay soils will retain water. Some plants will specify “well-drained soil.” If you have something you want to plant in a location with clay soil that requires well-drained soil, you will need to amend the soil to increase drainage. Or plant something that can tolerate wetter conditions.
Speaking of water, many plants will come with watering recommendations. Take that into consideration as well. If you purchase a plant that needs a lot of water in a location that gets full sun, plan on spending part of your summer watering.
Soil chemistry is another factor to consider, as some plants, like azaleas, prefer a more acidic soil. A soil test is always good to be sure.
One way to get ideas for your garden is to look at other gardens. Knowing this, the Master Gardeners have our yearly garden tour coming up June 9 and 10. On the tour this year, we will have five Master Gardener gardens (plus our demonstration garden at the Extension office) to tour. We have been working hard this spring to make them beautiful for you. In addition, one of the homes will have lectures throughout both days on a variety of topics, such as environmentally friendly gardening, succulents, annuals and perennials for the shade, azaleas, landscape design 101 and monarch butterflies. Visit our website at tulsamastergardeners.org for more information and to purchase tickets.

Garden tips

  • Plant warm-season vegetable crops, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, etc., now.
  • Fruit trees, especially apples and peaches, must be thinned out for best production. Prune apples 4-6 inches apart and peaches 6-8 inches. This will ensure larger fruit and less damage to limbs. If not thinned, the tree's resources will be used to such an extent that next year’s crop will suffer.
  • Late May is the best time to control borers in the orchard. Contact OSU Tulsa Master Gardeners for fruit tree spray recommendations.



Sunday, May 13, 2018 7 comments By: Ask A Master Gardener

Attracting Monarch Butterflies to Your Garden

Attracting Monarch Butterflies to Your Garden
Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener
Sunday, May 13, 2018
Q: I am intrigued by the beautiful butterflies that are around Tulsa each year but know very little about them. Could you tell me how I can attract them to my garden? Melissa H., Tulsa
A: Most of us would agree with you that butterflies are such a visual blessing to our gardens. They are beautiful and do wondrous work in the pollinating world. Two of the most common types of butterflies in our area are monarchs and Black Swallowtails (the Oklahoma state butterfly).
Food is obviously an essential part of their life cycle, but they are somewhat picky eaters and will feed exclusively on particular plants, called host plants. Having these plants available will not only draw butterflies in to lay their eggs, but also will allow you to watch the development of the caterpillars. One of the keys to having beautiful monarch butterflies around your garden is having lots of milkweed. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed (Aesclepias) and cannot survive without it. With almost 20 different species of milkweed native to Oklahoma, you’re sure to find some that fit your garden area. When planting milkweed, be sure to plant multiples (three to five or more). A single plant simply will not be sufficient for monarchs as they are eating machines. If you want lots of monarchs, plant lots of milkweed. Planting milkweed is a great way to help other pollinators too, as the plant provides valuable nectar resources to a diverse suite of bees and other butterflies. Other nectar sources include marigolds, petunias and asters. While milkweed is a beautiful plant to look at, be sure to keep milkweed sap out of your eyes as it can be irritating. Caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail feed on parsley, dill and fennel. So, if you garden with these, plant enough for you and the caterpillars.
A few key tips to coax these beauties to your yard include providing “roost” stations for them at varying heights and protection to shield them from wind and predators. They are attracted to plant color, structure and height. Provide moist areas with shallow puddles to encourage gathering. Butterflies are cold-blooded and enjoy warming themselves in the sun so provide rocks or exposed soil that will warm to the sun’s exposure. Use few, if any, insecticides as they can easily kill good insects, along with bad ones, and no bug zappers please.
Because of modern changes, habitat destruction and shifting land management practices (suburbanization), there is a lot less milkweed today than previously. This has caused a decline in monarch butterfly populations and numbers to be at an all-time low for the past two overwintering seasons. Many pollinators are declining as well. By planting milkweeds and nectar plants for adult monarchs and pollinators, you can help maintain the monarch migration and sustain the pollinators whose pollinating services maintain our ecosystems.
Monarchwatch.org is a terrific resource to learn more about monarch butterflies and milkweed. Also, consider attending a free seminar called “Monarchs, Milkweeds and More” on May 26 at the Tulsa fairgrounds, hosted by the Tulsa Master Gardeners. Detailed information can be found at tulsamastergarders.org.
Garden tips

• Clean out water garden and prepare for season. Divide and repot water garden plants. Begin feeding fish when water temperatures are over 50 degrees.
• Plant warm-season vegetable crops, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, etc., now.
• Fruit trees, especially apples and peaches, must be thinned out for best production. Prune apples 4-6 inches apart and peaches 6-8 inches. This will ensure larger fruit and less damage to limbs. If not thinned, the tree's resources will be used to such an extent that next year’s crop will suffer.
• Late May is the best time to control borers in the orchard. Contact OSU Tulsa Master Gardeners for fruit tree spray recommendations.