June 2012 / Volume 63          

In This Issue
June Lawn and Garden Tips
Beneficial Insects...Who are the Good Guys
Beneficial Insects...Who are the Good Guys
Companion Planting, A Habitat in Harmony
Amazing Acrobats: Hummingbirds
Ask A Master Gardener

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

74 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

1.36 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.
June Lawn and Garden Tips


  • Spider mites on ornamentals and vegetables may appear this month. They love marigolds and tomatoes. The foliage becomes pale and speckled. They are very small-shake a branch over white paper and watch for specks that crawl. Spider mites need early control. Use powerful jets of water to wash them off plants leaves and spray with horticultural soaps and/or horticultural oils such as Neem.
  • Renovate overgrown strawberry beds after the last harvest. Start by setting your lawnmower on its highest setting and mow off the foliage. Next thin crowns 12 to 24 inches apart. Apply recommended fertilizer and apply preemergence herbicide if needed. Keep watered. 


  • Fertilize warm season grasses (Bermuda and zoysia) with 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. Do not fertilize fescue in the summer, this promotes disease.


  • It is a great time to plant annuals and perennials. The nurseries have beautiful selections of plants to choose from such as impatiens, geraniums, marigolds, petunias, vinca, salvia and many others.
  • Most annuals benefit from regular applications of nitrogen containing fertilizers during blooming season, apply according to the label.
  • Check all plants, especially newly planted ones, for moisture on a regular basis. Water deeply and thoroughly as needed.  
  • Spruce up summer landscape with beautiful color in containers. Be sure to use potting mix and not garden soil. A water-grabbing polymer may be added to reduce the frequency of watering.

  • Remove wraps from young trees to avoid potential disease and insect buildup.

  • Mulching plants now will prevent weeds, conserve water, moderate soil temperature and, for trees, prevent damage from lawn care equipment.

  • Pinch back leggy annuals to encourage more stems and blossoms. Many annuals and some perennials will benefit from regular dead heading. This allows the plant's energy to go toward new blossoms and growth, rather than seed production.

Master Gardener Showcase Garden Tour
"Behind Our Garden Gate" 
Five Tulsa Master Gardeners will have their gardens featured in the Tulsa Master Gardeners Showcase Garden Tour on Saturday, June 9th and Sunday, June 10th. Hours for the Tour are 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and 11:30 am to 5 pm on Sunday. Tickets are available at the Extension Office on 15th for $5 prior to the tour but will be $7.50 on Tour Days and can be purchased at the homes.

Master Gardeners will be volunteering at each location to answer questions and provide information. Fact sheets and handouts will be available in accordance with the theme at
each garden. For more information contact: Dianne Nail at 918-455-8237.

Beneficial Insects...Who are the Good Guys?

Most people think only of pests when they think of insects. But, most insects found in gardens do not feed on or harm plants. The typical Oklahoma backyard contains hundreds of species of insects, yet only a fraction can even be observed because many are microscopic and/or hidden below ground or within plant tissue. Most are just "passing through" or have very innocuous habits. Others actually feed on and destroy pest species, while others help decompose plant and animal matter, or act as plant pollinators.


Beneficial insects can be categorized broadly as either predators or parasites. During development in both adult and immature stages, predators actively search out and consume their prey, while insect parasites develop in or on a single host from eggs or larvae deposited by the adult. Predatory insects include different species of flies (Hover, Syrphid), bugs (Damsel, Bigeyed, Minute Pirate, Assassin (pictured above), Spined Shoulder), beetles (Lady, Collops, Ground), Lacewings (Green and Brown), Cicada Killers, Paper Wasps, Spiders (not insects, but still important predators), and the ever popular Preying Mantis. As for Parasites, they include Tachinid flies and Parasitic wasps.


Conservation is key in retaining these pest warriors in your garden and landscape. There are three things you can do to help them help you. First, reduce the overall use of insecticides, as most are broad spectrum, killing beneficial insects as well as target pests. A few insecticides, such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), are not toxic to predators and parasites. Where possible, use a systemic insecticide which penetrates the plant and has less contact toxicity. Second, protect beneficials from environmental extremes by providing them a space where temperature, humidity, and light intensity are optimal for survival. Plants with a dense canopy, such as small trees, shrubs, bushy perennials, and tall ornamental grasses, provide shade as well as nesting sites to enhance reproduction. These plants also can be ideal for ambush predators such as predatory bugs and some spiders. And, don't forget about organic mulches and ground cover plants as they can support greater numbers of ground-dwelling predators than bare soil. Finally, provide beneficials with food resources necessary for their survival and reproduction. Flowering plants rich in pollen and nectar will attract adult predators that feed on these important energy sources.


It is important to recognize the valuable role that these beneficial insects play so they can be appreciated and conserved. So, get out there as a garden detective and investigate the world of beneficial insects, for they are truly the good guys.


For more information and specifics on the various insects, see OSU Fact Sheet EPP-7307 and E-1023.

Companion Planting, A Habitat in Harmony

Companion planting is the practice of growing a number of crops together such as vegetables, herbs, and flowers in order to create a habitat that attracts beneficial insects or animals and repels problem pests. While the approach of planting one crop in one space may be the traditional one, the gardener is actually creating a system that will rely on pesticides and herbicides for the crop's survival. In contrast, a companion planting plan simply mimics the interrelated system that is found in nature and works in harmony within itself.


There is no significant scientific data to prove the value of companion planting or intercropping, but it is thought that certain plants may produce substances which confuse insects, altering their impact as a pest.  


For the gardener who is interested in using minimal amounts of pesticides and herbicides, even organic ones, companion planting is the ideal situation. Instead of concentrating all of one crop in a single area, plant several small plots throughout the garden and combine with another vegetable, herb, and/or flower. For example: combine tomatoes with basil, which will help repel insects, as well as borage which will help control the tomato horn worm. Wormwood and hyssop grow very well in our Oklahoma climate, and when planted with cabbage or kale will help repel the cabbage moth. Planting herbs and flowers among your vegetables will also attract bees that for pollination, and birds that will eat harmful insects. The fragrance emitted from the herbs and flowers will also confuse pests from locating your crops.  


Following are a few more common crops and some recommended companion plants:

Garlic: plant with roses to deter Japanese beetles

Onion: plant with lettuce to help deter slugs

Peas: grow well with any vegetable and help add nitrogen to the soil

Nasturtium: plant with cucumbers to help deter cucurbit pests


For more information see: Companion Planting from Cornell Extension; Cultural Control Practices Fact Sheet from OSU; the Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide Fact Sheet HLA-6004; Annual Flowers for Specific Uses in Oklahoma Fact Sheet HLA-6425; Perennial Flowers for Specific Uses in Oklahoma Fact Sheet HLA-6410; Home Vegetable Garden Insect Pest Control Fact Sheet EPP-7313; the Tulsa Master Gardener Gallery of Herbs.

 Amazing Acrobats: Hummingbirds    

Looking for some really cheap summertime entertainment?

Attract some hummingbirds to your garden! These endearing miniature dynamos are ready to put on a show of acrobatics.

Hummingbirds love nectar, particularly that from flowers. To attract hummingbirds, plant some red or purple native flowers for their enjoyment. Some examples include: Columbine, Garden phlox, Bee Balm, Fuchsia (try a hanging basket in the shade under the eaves of the house), Salvia, Verbena, and Cigar flower (great in a hanging basket).


Carefully plan so you have blooms from spring to fall. You don't want to run out of blossoms just when fall migration is beginning as migration times in spring and fall are prime times to attract hummingbirds. And, keep an adequate supply of water available. Hummers particularly like mist, either from fountains or misters.  


You can also make your own nectar and hang a feeder. Simply combine 1 part sugar with 4 parts water. Boil the water and add the sugar, then stir until dissolved. Let the mix cool and pour it into your feeder. No coloring is needed and could possibly be harmful. Anything that holds water can be made into a feeder, especially if it is red. Make your own or just stick to the basic plastic type...the birds don't care!  


Keep your sugar-water feeders filled so the birds will stay around all summer. Change out the nectar regularly and keep feeders clean. Hanging feeders in the shade will cut down on the algae growth, so you won't have to change the sugar water as often.


Hummingbirds are vigilant in protecting their territory when they find a reliable nectar source, whether a patch of flowers or a feeder. Their interesting behavior in protecting their turf leads to the dive-bombing acrobatics along with high-speed comings and goings of hummers.


Be patient and relax as it may take a while for the hummingbirds to find this wonderful habitat you have prepared for them. So, take a seat in your yard and enjoy the beauty, sights, sounds and hopefully, the free show of the hummingbirds. Let the party begin!


For more information, see OSU Fact Sheet Landscaping and Gardening for Birds


Question: I'm having problems with dead spots in my lawn?  What is causing this and what I can I do to have a greener, more uniform lawn? 

There are many fungi which may infect turf grasses, but from a practical standpoint there are only 4 which are significant to homeowners lawns; Spring Dead Spot (SDS), Large Patch (LP), Brown Patch (BP) and Dollar Spot (DS). The occurrence of all of these diseases is greatly influenced by how we manage our lawns, especially the misuse of fertilizers.


All of our grasses in Oklahoma go into one type of dormancy or another. Bermuda and zoysia go dormant in winter and tall fescue and blue grass become semi-dormant in the heat of the summer. These grasses should all receive the correct amounts of nitrogen fertilizer only during their active growing phases, not immediately before or during dormancy. Fertilizing Bermuda or zoysia after the end of August or Fescue after the end of May, will delay dormancy and make the grass susceptible to fungal diseases. This applies to all but DS.


The two diseases which appear in the spring and early summer are SDS (as seen in the above photo) and LP (pictured below). SDS infects mainly Bermuda and LP mainly Zoysia grasses, although there is some cross-over of infections.

Spring Dead Spot starts in the fall when the soil temperatures drop to about 70 degrees. Involvement is usually not noticed at that time due to Bermuda going into dormancy. In spring, the fungus begins to grow again, and the involved grass does not green-up. The size of the dead areas ranges from inches to many feet and occur in the same area yearly often expanding from year to year. 


Large Patch in zoysia develops simlar to SDS; infecting grass in the fall and spring when conditions are cool and moist. It grows especially well in wet soils. LP becomes apparent in zoysia during spring green-up and, like SDS, tends to expand yearly. The patches of dead grass may range from a few inches to many feet in diameter and often have a bronze cast to the outer ring. 


Brown Patch of tall fescue is usually a summer infection. It grows best when temperatures are greater than 85 degrees, typically developing in June and later. Involvement initially causes fescue to be purplish green, turning to brown or bronze. The size ranges from inches to feet. Fescue leaves may have tan spots with dark brown edges. Usually BP kills the fescue and it will need to be reseeded in the following fall. 


Dollar Spot may affect all turf grasses, but prefers hybrid Bermuda and zoysia. It grows best when days are hot and nights are cool...usually late summer and early fall. The lesions are straw colored, 1-3 inches across and tend to occur in groups. There may be some cottony threads seen with early morning dew. It prefers lawns with drought stress, especially those mowed too short. Unlike SDS, LP and BP, this fungus is more likely to occur in lawns needing extra nitrogen fertilizer. 



Much of the control of these diseases depends on how you care for your lawn. As mentioned, the timing and type of fertilizers are key and should be based on results of a soil test.


Other attention should be paid to moisture control; fungi need moisture to thrive. Try to eliminate low spots and irrigate only in early morning to give turf leaves a chance to dry out before nighttime. Also remember that lawn clippings from the diseased areas are infectious and should be bagged and disposed of to prevent spread of disease. 


Unfortunately, the fungicides available to homeowners in garden centers are not effective for SDS, LP and BP, even though they are labeled for the diseases. Several university studies have been done showing that professionally available fungicides are useful for control of these diseases but none will cure existing disease. These fungicides should be applied in the fall, usually in two doses. There are some effective fungicides for DS available to the homeowner. Call OSU Master Gardeners for recommendations.


The referenced fact sheets have much more useful information about these diseases.


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