Sunday, May 27, 2018 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 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.


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