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February 1, 2011                                                        Number 45  

""The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination."  ~Terri Guillemets

Soil temperature, 4" below sod: 39 degrees                         


 Ask a Master Gardener


Question: Are you familiar with some of the new cultivars of Hosta that stay small?

Answer: One such variety is the Hosta "Blue Mouse Ears."  

It makes a mound 6-7 inches tall of small, rounded leaves, each about 2 inches tall and 2 inches wide. The lavender blooms are held just above the foliage, which remains blue in the summer heat. Another variety is Hosta "Pandora's Box," just 4-6 inches tall and 8-10 inches wide.  

The leaves are green with a white center. Both are zones 3-8 and do well in containers.


Question: Some of my late fall plantings of perennials are beginning to push up out of the soil after the snow melted. The ground is still partially frozen. What should I do?

Answer: Frost heaving occurs when perennials are planted too late or were root-bound and did not have time to entrench themselves into the soil. Water the plant as soon as temperatures allow and gently press around the crown of the plant to push it back into the soil. Sometimes placing stones or bricks around the crown, not on top, will aid in keeping newly replanted root masses down in the soil and prevent them from drying out and causing the plant to die.


Question: I want to plant onions this spring and need to know which is best to buy, the onion sets or the onion plants?

Answer: Onion sets usually come pre-packaged and are small onion bulbs grown from the previous year's seed. Onion sets can be used to grow either green onions or dry onions, but because they are biannual plants they sometimes bolt, or go to seed. That is why some gardeners prefer onion transplants. Onion plants look like tiny green onions and are bundled with twine in clumps of 50 to 75. Short-day or intermediate-day are grown in southern climates. Both are planted Feb. 15-March 10 and are frost-hardy. If growing onion sets for green onions, place close together and one inch deep; for dry onions plant four inches apart and one inch deep. See HLA-6004


Question: I want to change and add to my gardens this growing season. Where do I begin ?

Answer: Now is a great time to walk around the yard and garden and make notes about what you didn't like last year. Note plants and shrubs, and even small trees that need to be moved or pruned. Find pictures of cultivars that you like and ask neighbors or friends to identify plants in their yard that you admire. Bring your pictures into the Master Gardener office, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., to identify plants and trees and find out if they will work in your light exposure and soil. Take a snapshot of your problem area and allow Master Gardeners to suggest plant materials that will fulfill your expectations. This is a great time to dream and plan with a little guidance from the MGs, so that you will be prepared to start the ground work when temperatures warm.


Question: How can I help my pansies and panolas thrive through springtime?

Answer: Pansies and especially the new hybrid of panolas, which are a cross between the pansy and the viola, can thrive up until temperatures get hot. Continue to water throughout the winter, and fertilize now. Dead-heading or removing spent flowers will improve their appearance. Pinch as far down on the stem as possible to remove spent flowers.

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Twelve lawn and garden tips
for February
  • It's hard to think gardening when it's bitter cold and there's 14 inches of snow on the ground. Our only advice is Think Spring. And one place to start is by looking at the exciting list of plants available from the Tulsa Master Gardeners. See below for more about the spring plant sale.
  • Once this snow melts and the soil dries a bit, think about tilling spring garden beds. Add compost when tilling.
  • Seed many cool-season vegetables mid-February to mid-March. Plant Irish potatoes and onion sets after mid-February.
  • Plant tomato seeds in indoor flats around Valentine's Day for mid-April garden transplants.
  • Bare-rooted trees and evergreen shrubs are best planted in February before buds open.
  • Prune trees and summer-flowering shrubs now. Prune spring-blooming plants after flowering. Don't prune roses until mid-March.
  • Pruning Crape myrtles with no specific reason is called "Crape Murder." Avoid this.
  • Pre-emergent herbicides to prevent crabgrass and other weeds should be applied from February up to March 15th. The generic names of the common preemergents for this area are prodiamine, pendimethilin, or dithiopyr. Read labels carefully. 
  • Fruit trees and other plants at risk for aphids, scale and spider mites should be sprayed with all-purpose horticultural oil at the dormant rate.
  • Prune monkey grass (Liriope) and ornamental grasses such as Pampas grass before new growth begins.
  • Trees, shrubs and perennial plants needing fertilizer should be fertilized now.
  • Don't forget your feathered friends. Clean and refill feeders, and don't forget to provide fresh water. Clean up birdhouses before spring tenants arrive.
  • For winter weed control, a product containing glyphosate can be used on dormant Bermuda in February when temperature is above 50 degrees. See below for more information.
MG Plant Sale just around the corner

Kick off spring planting by purchasing high-quality plants at an attractive price at the annual Master Gardeners' Plant Sale.You will also be supporting the many Master Gardener programs serving our community. Plants may be purchased two ways:

  1. Preorder - Get great bedding plants, hanging baskets, herbs, ornamental grasses and accent plants. Orders must be prepaid.Pick-up day for preordered plants is Thursday, April 14.
  2. Day of Sale - Additional plants, including a wider selection of herbs, vegetables, perennials and native plants, will be available for sale on a first-come, first-served basis on Thursday, April 14.

Order forms are available from any Master Gardener, or you can click here to print an order form and obtain more information about the plant materials available. Order forms and payment must be received in the Master Gardener office by 4 p.m. Friday, March 18.They can be mailed or delivered to Tulsa County Master Gardeners, 4116 East 15th Street, Tulsa, OK 74112-6198. 

Cool-season vegetable gardening

It's time to get that money-saving, delicious vegetable garden started. 


Here is a short list of some crops that can be planted now, along with the days until harvest:

  • Carrots (70-90 days)
  • Cabbage (60-90)
  • Swiss Chard (40-60)
  • Head Lettuce (60-90)
  • Onion (60-120)
  • Spinach (50-70)
  • Irish Potato (90-120)

Many more selections can be found in our Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide (fact sheet HLA-6004), and Vegetable Varieties for the Home Garden in Oklahoma (fact sheet F-6032)


If you are a late-winter, early-spring vegetable grower, remember to rotate your crops. Continuous planting of the same plant in the same spot may deplete some specific nutrients.

Kill winter weeds in dormant
Bermuda lawns

In the winter, Bermuda grass goes dormant and turns brown. Anything green in Bermuda lawns now may safely be killed with glyphosate, the herbicide found in the brand Roundup and others. In the Tulsa area, glyphosate is generally safe to use on Bermuda during January and February.


The herbicide must be absorbed into the plant to be effective, so it is best to use it when the temperature is above 50 degrees. The effect on the weed is much slower in the winter, so it may be several days before effects are seen.


Never use glyphosate on Zoysia or tall fescue lawns. Zoysia, which goes dormant and turns brown in the winter like Bermuda, will be damaged by the herbicide. Fescue, which stays green all year, will be killed by glyphosate in any season.

Time for soil testing

In the lawn or garden, too much of a nutrient can be as damaging (and more expensive) than too little. Having the soil tested every three to five years can save money and maximize production. A soil test report provides information about the soil's pH (alkalinity or acidity) and the nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). Do not take samples in areas that have been fertilized within the past 60 days, since this can give false readings.  


Sample(s) can be brought to the OSU Extension Center at 4116 E. 15th Street in Tulsa. The cost is $10, and results will be delivered in 2-3 weeks. Click here for detailed instructions on how to collect your soil samples.


Back Issues

Past issues of our eNewsletters are now archived. You can read and download by just clicking here.


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.