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October 1, 2010                                                          Number 43 
""Who has learned to garden who did not at the same time learn to be patient?"
- H.L.V. Fletcher, "Purest Pleasure" (1949)

Soil temperature, 3 day average: 68 degrees                          Rainfall past 30 days: 5.59 inches

Ask a Master Gardener

Question: Is this a good time to prune my roses? A couple of them are tall and gangly and reaching outside the garden into the path of the lawn mower.

hybrid tea rose
Answer: In general, this is not the time to prune roses. However, it is acceptable to trim overlong stems or bring overgrown bushes back into their boundaries. More extensive pruning or reshaping of rose bushes should be put off until February. Pruning roses and ornamental shrubs encourages new growth. With the first freeze just a month or so away, the new growth would die back and might cause injury to the entire plant. February is also the time, after pruning, to add a little rose fertilizer around the base of the bush to encourage new spring growth. Roses are having a comeback now in the cooler temperatures, and many new blooms are appearing. Continue to water at the base of the plants. You may also deadhead spent roses to prevent the formation of rose hips and to promote more blooms.

Question: The leaves have been turning brown on many of my trees and shrubs. I kept them watered during the hot and dry weeks we experienced in August. Why is this still happening?

Answer: Many trees and shrubs experienced extreme sun scorch during August. Leaves turned brown around the edges, and in some cases entire leaves dried up and dropped. The intense sun can damage leaves, tender sprouts and small green limbs, even when the plants have adequate water.
For plants, the process of transpiration is much like how we perspire. The plant gives off moisture through the stomata, or openings, of cells on the leaf surface. The water lost through transpiration cools the air just above the leaf surface. When temperatures are extremely high and sun rays are intensely hot, plant cells cannot moderate water quickly enough, photosynthesis does not occur, and the leaves turn brown. Some suggest misting leaves in the hottest part of the day, but this is practical only for small specimens, not large trees.
Keep in mind that the growing season is coming to an end; plants are beginning to slow down and may not look like they are thriving. One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make this time of year is to discontinue monitoring the water needs of their gardens and turf. When cooler and dryer northern breezes begin to blow, they can be as drying as the hot sun of summer.

Question:  I have found several mounds of dirt in and around my garden, especially after the recent rains.  They look like an ant hill with a hole the size of a pencil at the base of each pile.  Do I need to treat these with an insecticide, and what is making them?

These small mounds are simply the dirt piled up by the Shorttailed cricket, Anurogryllus arboreus, to clear its' underground tunnels which have collapsed from the rainfall. Shorttailed crickets are light brown and similar to field crickets in size, with a shorter tail, or ovipositor, from which their common name is derived. These crickets feed on grasses, weeds, and pine seedlings. Their damage to turfgrasses by feeding is negligible. The mounds appear in August and activity continues through October and November.  The burrows are rebuilt each time they are washed away by fall rains. Treatment provides only partial control and is seldom needed.

Question: My summer tomato plants are again beginning to bud. Is the time too short for more tomatoes?
Answer: Tomato plants will not set buds when temperatures stay above 90 degrees. Now that the temperatures are cooling down, buds are beginning to set on plants that survived the hot weather. After fruit begins to appear, apply a light application of vegetable fertilizer and continue to water. Even though tomatoes may not have sufficient time to ripen on the vine, green tomatoes may be picked before first frost. They can ripen indoors on a window sill or countertop that is out of direct sun.

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Eleven Tips for October
Lawns and Gardens
  • Now until mid-October is still the best time to overseed or to establish cool-season grasses like fescue. Use a blend of three or more fescues or a mixture of fescue blend and Kentucky bluegrass. Click here for more information about seeding fescue.
  • Fall is an excellent time to spray a 2,4-D-type combination herbicide to control broadleaf weeds such as dandelions.
  • Mow and neatly edge warm-season lawns like Bermuda before the first killing frost.
  • Now is a good time to obtain a soil test. Do a test for each unique area of the landscape to learn if acid adjustment or fertilizers are needed. Click here for more information.
  • Remove tender summer annuals before the first frost. Our first light frost date for the Tulsa area is Nov. 3.
  • If mulched well, cannas can survive an average Tulsa winter outdoors. Elephant ears also survive if protected.
  • Most all spring-blooming perennials do best if planted in the fall. This is also the best time to dig and divide spring-flowering perennials like peonies and daylilies.
  • Your favorite nursery or garden store has a good selection of spring-flowering bulbs. Plant them after Oct. 15. Buy healthy bulbs. Remember: the bigger the bulb the larger the blossoms.
  • Bring in houseplants. Inspect plant, pot and soil for pests. Then hose off with water and finally spray with insecticidal soap or lightweight horticultural oil before bringing inside.
  • Fall is the best time to plant container-grown trees and shrubs. Mulch and water trees well. Click here for instructions on how to plant a tree.
  • Remove green fruit from tomato plants when frost threatens
Want Winter Color?
Try Ornamental Cabbage

g the wintermonths, riyou During the winter months, you can fill your patio, deck of walkway with bright and vary colors with hybridized cabbages or kale. 
Colors range from white and pink to purple and red. These plants can handle freezing temperatures as low as 5 degrees. Click here for more information.

Plan Now for Spring Color


Gardeners Gardeners can have beautiful spring flowers by planting bulbs this fall. In the daffodils/narcissus family there are hundreds of new and attractive cultivars. Add selections from the tulip and crocus family for a wonderful mix of colors, sizes and shapes. They can be planted beds or in containers.

In selecting bulbs, be sure to consider the mature height, the flower size and the differences in color, as well as the requirements for sun or shade.

When planting a large group of bulbs, the easiest method is to prepare the bed, then lay the bulbs out evenly, using the recommended distances between bulbs. Then cover the bulbs with soil to the recommended depth, which usually twice the depth of the bulb. Remember the pointed end of the bulb points up. It is best to cover the bulbs with the same soil used in the bed. Your favorite nursery will offer a wide selection of bulbs. Plant anytime after Oct. 15. You will be well rewarded next spring. Click here for more information.

Need more information?
Click on any of the links below:
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.
How to Plant a Tree in Oklahoma Soil
Show and tell.
Fescue Lawn Care
12-month maintenance calendar.
Bermuda Lawn Care
Ditto above.
Trees for Tulsa
A list of 50 recommended trees with descriptions.
Crape Myrtles
A list of over 100, by size and color.
Oklahoma Proven Plants
The new list for 2010.  State horticulturists, nurseries and growers pick their favorite plants, shrubs and trees.
Current and historical source of rainfall, air temperatures, soil temps and much more. Click on Bixby station.
4 Ways to Contact Us 
Call: 746-3701 from 9-4, M-F 
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.

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