February 2012 / Volume 59       

In This Issue
February Lawn and Garden Tips
Spring Plant Sale!
Home and Garden Show
Magilla Perilla is Proven
Early Garden Starts from Seed
Winter Care of the Landscape
Ask A Master Gardener

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

48 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

1.13 inches


4 Ways to Contact Us
Email us at:

See our website at: www.tulsamastergardeners.org 

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.
Need More Information?

Click on any of the links below:


All about butterfly gardening in Tulsa County 

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.
Understanding Your Soil Test Results
Once you have collected your soil test and gotten the results back, now what? Find out here. 
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 60, by size and color.
Demonstration Garden
Visit our demonstration garden on 
15th Street, open 7 days a week.  
Oklahoma Proven Plants
State horticulturists, nurseries and growers pick favorite plants, shrubs and trees for use in the Oklahoma landscape. See the winners for this year and years past.
Current and historical source of rainfall, air temperatures, soil temps and much more. Click on Bixby station.  

Back Issues  

Past issues of our eNewsletters can be read and downloaded.

Become a Master Gardener

Classes start in September. Register for more information.

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services.
February Lawn and Garden Tips


  • To obtain the fruit tree spray schedule, click here. Horticultural oils and fungicides may be used this month. Each fruit type has a different schedule.
  • Begin planting blackberries, strawberries, grapes and other perennial garden crops later this month. Click here for a Home Fruit Planting Guide. 
  • Cool-season vegetable transplants can still be started for late spring garden planting. Plant tomato seeds in indoor flats around Valentine's day for mid April garden transplants.
  • By February 15 many cool-season vegetables like cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peas and potatoes can be planted. Click here for the Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide. 


  • Mid-February is the time to apply a preemergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass in lawns. A brand containing one of the chemicals dithiopyr, pendimethilin or prodiamine would be an excellent choice. Read and follow the label. They must be watered in to be effective and some will require a second application. See links in the left column reference section for specific information about warm and cool season grass care. 


  • The dreary weather of February is a good time to sit back and design your landscapes for spring. The Oklahoma Proven selections offer lots of ideas for trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.
  • All trees, including fruit and nut trees, along with shrubs and evergreens may be fertilized now. A soil test done at the County Extension office at 4116 E. 15 street will recommend what fertilizer nutrients to use.
  • All bare-rooted trees and shrubs (including roses) should be planted in February or March.
  • Finish pruning shade trees, summer flowering shrubs and hedges. Wait to prune roses until mid-March. Spring blooming shrubs such as forsythia and azalea may be pruned immediately after flowering. Don't prune crape myrtles without a reason. Click here for a guide to pruning. 
  • Cut back "monkey grass" (liriope) and all ornamental grasses, such as Pampas grass before new growth begins.
  • Horticultural oil in dormant strengths can still be applied to trees to control mites, galls and overwintering aphids. Click here for Earth-Kind Gardening Guide to Mechanical Pest Controls 
  • Spring-flowering bulbs such as Daffodils should be fertilized as soon as they emerge in late winter. Tulips which are grown as annuals do not need fertilizer.  

Spring Plant Sale!  
Are you ready to make your flower beds stand out like never before? Mark your calendars now for the Tulsa County Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale. We are working hard to provide a fantastic selection of interesting, high-quality plants that will make your yard beautiful this summer! The Spring Plant Sale is a great way to kick off spring, and support the many programs that Tulsa County Master Gardeners provided free to our community.

How to Order: Order forms are available in PDF and Excel format.  

Orders due: Wednesday, March 28th by 4pm. Order form and payment must be received (by mail or in person) at the Tulsa County Master Gardener office, 4116 East 15th St, Tulsa, OK 74112-6198.  

Sale Location: Tulsa County Fairgrounds, Central Park Hall

When: Plants must be picked up at Central Park Hall on Thursday, April 19th, between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm. Also, come early to shop for additional plants at this one day only sale!   


Pictures and plant descriptions available here. Thank you for your support of the Tulsa County Master Gardener Program!

2012 Greater Tulsa Home and Garden Show 

The 2012 Greater Tulsa Home & Garden Show is scheduled for March 8-11 in the QuikTrip Center at the Fairgrounds. There will be something for everyone's enjoyment, from the young to not so young, from nostalgic displays to new technology. Information about the show can be found on our newly created Web site. Come visit, and keep checking back as more information will be added between now and the show.

 Magilla Perilla - Proven Annual for 2012  

This may sound a little like a children's breakfast cereal, but actually, Magilla Perilla is a spectacularly flashy foliage plant to add vibrant color to your garden. Its scientific name is Perilla frutescens and is known to some as Beefsteak Plant. With its brightly colored leaves and irregular blotches of dark purple, magenta, cream and green, it is a coleus look-alike. It is in the same family as coleus and has similar growing needs, but has a stronger stem. As with coleus, Magilla can be pinched back to encourage branching and bushiness. The insignificant blossoms are well hidden down in the foliage.

This fast growing vigorous annual is a heat lover and is drought tolerant. Its outstanding color and texture can be used in beds, mixed borders, baskets...plus, it makes an excellent container plant, especially when mixed with flowering plants of a harmonizing color. Also, it can be used as cut foliage in a flower arrangement and has a long vase life. Caution is in order around small children and pets, as parts of the plant are poisonous and may cause skin irritation.

Magilla has no serious known diseases or insect problems. Because it is a tropical, it should be planted after the soil has warmed in the spring and all danger of frost is passed. Magilla is used as an annual here in zone 7, but may be over-wintered in a container. A planting of this multicolored gem would add to the curb appeal of your landscaping!

Magilla at a glance:

Requires: full sun to light shade, well drained, moist soil    

Height: 24" tall and wide, mounding habit

Hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 (frost tender)

Easily propagated by stem cuttings

Low maintenance


For more Oklahoma Proven plants, click here

Early Garden Starts from Seed

If you are planning to put in a spring vegetable garden, get a head start by starting seedlings indoors, such as lettuces, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers.  

  1. A "seed starting mix" can be purchased at any home and garden store. The mix is a sterilized combination of topsoil, peat, sand, perlite, and sometimes vermiculite. 
  2. It should be kept moist, but not wet, and placed in either a small plastic container or a peat pot. You can make your own from newspaper or cardboard, which can be placed directly in the soil...seedling and all!
  3. To ensure germination, sow 2-3 seeds in each container, covering loosely with about " of soil.  
  4. Cover with a plastic lid or plastic wrap and place in a sunny, south-facing window. Check seeds each day and remove the lid as soon as they have germinated.  
  5. The first two leaves to emerge are called the cotyledon and often bear very little resemblance to the mature plant. As the seedlings continue to grow, water just enough to keep the growing medium moist to the touch. Too much moisture may result in "dampening off" of seedlings. When this happens, fungi in the soil attack the seedlings and cause them to wilt and die soon after they sprout.  
  6. When the first set of true leaves appear, add a small amount of diluted liquid fertilizer.  
  7. Rotate the plants often to keep them from stretching or leaning towards the sunlight. 
  8. For best results, gradually allow your seedlings to acclimate to sunlight and outside weather conditions for about two weeks while they are still very young...a process known as "hardening off".  
  9. To transplant them in the garden, dig a hole slightly larger and slightly deeper than the transplant. Set the seedling inside the hole and gently pack the garden soil around it. Water in well, adding an appropriate amount of liquid fertilizer to give the plant a good head start.   

For more detailed information on growing your own transplants, read fact sheet HLA-6020. For more information on what to plant and when see the Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide HLA-6004.

,Winter Care of Perennials, Shrubs and Trees 

josie driskill Trees, shrubs and perennials are an essential element of an attractive garden, but what are their needs during their dormant period? Water and nutrition are vital! Root growth occurs during cool weather even when the foliage appears dormant. In fact, root growth of woody ornamentals is most active in fall and in late winter/early spring, then slows during hot summer weather.  


Plants need water, even in the dormant season. Don't forget to water the lawn, perennials, shrubs and young trees during prolonged periods of dry weather. Know the water needs of your individual landscape plants so you do not over water, which can be just as damaging. 


Proper nutrition is also key to the success of landscape plantings. Lack of proper nutrition makes all plants more susceptible to cold weather damage that may occur from now into the early spring. Poorly nourished plants succumb to drought, insects, and diseases more quickly. You should always base fertilizer choice and amount on a soil test (visit the Web site for details on how to do this), but some basic guidelines are listed below.

Fertilizing Perennials: Top-dressing with a 1 to 1-1/2 inch depth of good aged compost in mid to late February, every 2 to 3 years is the best approach to providing nutrients to most perennials. You may also use supplemental fertilizers (such as composted, organic fertilizers or sulfur-coated, slow-release synthetic fertilizers), applying them March through September according to package directions. If you cannot perform timely soil tests, then apply according to fertilizer labels approximately every 60 to 90 days.   


Fertilizing Shrubs: It is best to use a nitrogen fertilizer alone, unless a soil test indicates a need for phosphorus and potassium (the second and third numbers on the fertilizer container). Make sure to follow the labeled directions. More definitely is not better; more plants are harmed by too much fertilizer than helped. Because shrubs have a somewhat limited root system, spread the described amount of fertilizer under the shrub and scratch it into the soil about 1/2 inch deep. This should not be done for azaleas, as they have a very shallow net-like root system which may be damaged by scratching in fertilizer. A nitrogen fertilizer application will have its greatest effect three to four weeks after application. Woody plants can absorb nutrients as long as the soil temperature is above 40F. Keep in mind that nitrogen is readily absorbed by surface application since it is carried by water, while phosphorus and potassium are much more slowly absorbed.

Fertilizing Trees: Osmocote mixed into the soil is optional. For established or mature trees, fertilizer may not be needed if fertilizer is being applied regularly to the lawn around the tree root zone. Roots may easily extend out twice as far as the tree canopy. Where large trees are growing in areas without regular lawn fertilizer applications, base fertilizer on soil test results. In this case, a lawn fertilizer may still be appropriate; these fertilizers are easily available and are sold in many different formulations. Beware that one should not use a lawn fertilizer with herbicide, such as "Weed-N- Feed"; some of the herbicides in these preparations are mobile in the soil and toxic to trees and shrubs. For a diagram of the area to be fertilized under a tree, see Fertilizing Shade and Ornamental Trees and Shrubs Fact Sheet HLA-6412.

For more information, see Winter Protection for Landscape Plants Fact Sheet HLA-6404.  

Question: I have had scale on my euonymus bush for two years. What should I do?

Answer: Scale is a type of insect which, once mature, fixes itself to plants and sucks out sap. There are thousands of scale varieties and each tends to specialize in a certain plant type. They are often mistaken for a bump-like part of the plant. Euonymus scale is very common on several varieties of euonymus plants and is a major reason to avoid the susceptible types.

After hatching in spring, the young scales are mobile and are called "crawlers." After maturing, they attach to a stem or leaf and never again move. They seal themselves off and get nourishment from the plant. Standard chemical insecticides are only effective for crawlers, not fixed adults. A foliar applied (sprayed) insecticide is moderately effective but only for the brief "crawler" stage. This stage is difficult to identify. 


Horticultural oil, sprayed at a more concentrated "dormant" rate in mid-March, and again at a "summer" rate in mid-May, provides excellent control. Several brands of horticultural oils are available at all garden centers. These oils smother the insects and their eggs. They are effective for a wide array of insects and spiders on many plants. Oils are safe for the environment and beneficial insects when used according to the labeled directions. Now is the time to spray dormant oil for your euonymus, as well as many fruit trees, roses and other plants at risk for scale and other listed insects. Oils should be sprayed when the temperature is above 40 degrees but below 85 degrees. Always read and follow the label; some plants are intolerant of oils. For more information about various species of scale insects, click here.  


Question: I read on the internet that the gardening zones for Tulsa has changed. What does this mean?   

Answer: Maps dividing the country up into growing zones, based on the average coolest temperature, have been published since 1927. The new map is based on 8,000 weather stations and 30 years of climate date. (Click here for the full US map.) The country is divided into zones, 1-13, each representing a 10 difference in average minimum temperature. They are then further divided into "a" and "b" subsets, with 5 degrees of temperature difference.


This is important information one needs to follow when selecting plants for your garden. Most all plants and seeds sold are marked with their growing zone tolerance. Plants sold in local nurseries are almost always rated for our zone(s).


In 1990, the USDA cold hardiness map listed Tulsa in zone 6b (average low -5 to 0 degrees) and just south of Tulsa the next warmer zone started, 7a (0-5 degrees). On the new map Tulsa is clearly in zone 7a. Now some of the 7a zone extends up into the Oklahoma-Kansas border. This confirms observations that, with a few exceptions, winter seems to be getting milder. This movement northward of the warmer growing zones is evident in most of the country.

Click here if you are interested in a chart of the average yearly temperature of our area for the past 100 years. It shows the oscillations of temperature during this time. According to this, we have been warmer than average for 20 of the past 30 years, but not as warm as some cycles in the past.


Question: I have always heard that following an unusually warm winter there are more insects in summer. Is this true? What about chiggers and ticks?

Answer: The idea that insect populations thrive because of warm winters has been quoted often, especially in the farming circles, but for the most part it is not true. There are more than a million insect species, and they have countless ways of coping with temperature extremes. They may overwinter in all stages of development - eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. In very general terms, insects and their kin either try to avoid the cold by burrowing into soil or plants for insulation, or they undergo some very sophisticated changes in their bodies that enable them to tolerate the cold.


One group of insects actually benefits from controlled freezing. Through a complicated method of internal water shifting, they are able to allow freezing in non-vital body areas, which offers protection from total freezing in critical parts. Another large number of insects avoid freezing by producing chemicals that specifically lower their body's freezing point. This is identical to adding anti-freeze to automobile radiators. In fact, ethylene glycol, a common chemical additive in automobile anti-freeze, is one of the common chemicals insects manufacture and circulate to prevent their fluids from freezing.

Chiggers and ticks, not insects but members of the spider family, have their own particular strategy. They overwinter under the hair and feathers on the bodies of warm-blooded hosts and are not significantly affected by winter temperatures.

Also, according to an OSU entomologist, web worm populations are more related to rainfall, the health of trees and fluctuations of their natural predators than extremes of temperature.
For more information about the life cycles of specific horticultural insects, spiders and pests of Oklahoma click here.  


Click here to send your question to the Tulsa Master Gardeners or see Answers to other Questions on the Web site