October 2012 / Volume 68              

In This Issue
October Lawn and Garden Tips
Fall Fair Includes Gardening Expertise
Keep on Watering
Cool Season Annuals
What's With All the Crickets?
Ask A Master Gardener...Azaleas

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

72 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

4.53 inches


4 Ways to Contact Us
Email us at:

See our website at: www.tulsamastergardeners.org 

Call: 918-746-3701 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.
Cool Season Lawn Care (Fescue)
12-month maintenance calendar.
Warm-Season Lawn Care (Bermuda)
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 each year. Register at our office on 15th Street 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.
October Lawn and Garden Tips


  • Plant radish and mustard from seed until October 10th.
  • Other vegetables can continue to be planted in a cold frame. For more information on cold frames, visit our website.
  • Plant cover crops now for weed suppression, to prevent soil erosion and to add nutrients when turned under in the spring. For more information see fact sheet HLA-6436.
  • Continue to plant garlic bulbs through mid-October.   
  • Dig sweet potatoes and harvest pumpkins and winter squash.
  • Remove green fruit from tomato plants when frost threatens. Ripen indoors. 
  • Remove all debris from the garden to prevent overwintering of various garden pests. 
  • Start new planting bed preparations now with plenty of organic matter.  


  • Mow and neatly edge warm-season lawns like Bermuda before the first freeze. In the urban Tulsa area this is about November 3 (and a week earlier outside of the city). The first hard freeze is typically 2-3 weeks later. 
  • Fall is an excellent time to spray a 2,4-D-type combination herbicide to control broadleaf weeds such as dandelions.
  • You can continue to replant or establish cool-season lawns like fescue.
  • The mowing height for fescue should be lowered to approximately 2 inches for fall and winter cutting.
  • After newly seeded fescue is up, start mowing with a sharp bladed mower at a height of 3 inches. Remove 1/3 of the height each mowing.  
  • If weeds sprouted along with fescue seeds, it is generally safe to use a 2,4-D type postemergent herbicide such as Weed-B-Gon after the third mowing.

  • If you did not fertilize your fescue in September do so now. Fertilize again in November. Use 1 lb of actual nitrogen per 1000 sq feet of lawn each application.


  • If mulched well and sheltered, both cannas and elephant ears can usually survive an average Tulsa winter outdoors.
  • Young trees that are well mulched and watered have been shown to grow three times faster than those not. Mulch like a donut, not a volcano. For instructions on how to plant a tree, contact the OSU Master Gardeners.

  • 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.

  • Plant fall hardy mums and keep them watered during dry periods. Don't crowd them when planting since they require a few years to mature. Read the label for spacing.

  • Fall is not a good time to do general pruning. Pruning before dormancy may stimulate new growth sensitive to the cold. Fall pruning also removes energy stores needed for winter survival. However, prune trees or shrubs anytime there are dead or diseased limbs.

  • Bring in houseplants. Inspect plant, pot and soil for pests. See September calendar for specifics. 

Fall Fair Includes Gardening Expertise  

Once again, the Tulsa County Master Gardeners will be on hand at the Tulsa State Fair to answer your gardening questions. Our booth will be in the lower level of the QuickTrip Center. Fall is a great time to plant trees, and we will have information on proper tree planting. We will also have lots of information on Oklahoma Proven plants, as well as xeriscape plants that can withstand drought conditions. We will also be giving away free eastern redbud and bald cypress trees. Our booth will be open from October 2nd through the 7th, and we hope to see you there!

Keep on Watering  
The good news is we have actually received a little rainfall in

Tulsa area recently...the bad news is we still have a LONG way to go to get where we need to be in terms of soil moisture! We are still several inches behind the average year-to-date rainfall through September and remain under extreme drought conditions. Lawns and all other plants, especially evergreen plants, will continue to need irrigation throughout the fall and winter, especially if the dry weather of the last two years continues.


From now through winter, all plants will steadily lose water that needs replacing, even though they may be dormant. This is especially true of all things with green leaves. Winter leaves will continue to lose water, and this process is made worse by wind and low humidity that we commonly see in the winter months. The leaf buds for next year and also the flower buds for the spring bloomers, such as azaleas, are still being formed and this process requires adequate water. If plants experience a hard freeze without ample water they will be damaged - not only the buds but the root systems may experience freeze injury. You may not see evidence of damage until next spring, when the overall growth of the plant and bloom production will be poor.


And, yes, you should keep the lawn watered as well - it needs from one-half to one inch of water per week. If a hard freeze is in the forecast, it is important to water all shrubs, especially azaleas, before the freeze. This will greatly reduce the likelihood of winter damage. And lastly, don't forget the pansies or other cold weather annuals.

Cool Season Annuals         

Fall has finally arrived, and not any too soon for many of us after another blistering hot and dry summer. Many gardeners get a little depressed after 3 or 4 months of oppressive heat, but the cooler weather really reinvigorates us soil lovers. October is the best month to plant for cool-season color, using pansies and other cool-season blooming annuals.


First, be aware that there are three varieties of annuals: hardy, half-hardy and tender. Hardy annuals survive in cold temperatures and have the ability to tolerate light freezes. Half-hardy annuals withstand cooler temperatures of winter with ease, but frost damages the plants. Tender annuals prefer warmer to tropical climates and are easily damaged by winter weather and frosts. As you make your selections, keep this in mind.


For our area, pansies easily provide the biggest bang for the buck in terms of color, variety and endurance. They tolerate all seasons except the hot summer. Although they have a slightly smaller flower head, violas also provide excellent fall color. And, a hybrid of the two, called Panolas, are very popular and are extremely hardy through fall, winter and spring. Many varieties exist and more are developed each year. Other common selections to plant this time of year include: Ornamental cabbage, Kale, Dusty Miller, and Snapdragons. While mums are more of a perennial, they are also an excellent selection to plant now and will provide several weeks of colorful blooms this fall, as well as greenery through the winter.


Planting these selections now gives them a head start on root growth before exploding with color in the early Spring. Root growth continues until the soil temperature lowers to about 45 degrees. When hot weather arrives next year and the plants begin to fade, simply replace them with summer annuals. Like most plants, they need regular watering (particularly if we have a dry winter) and well-drained soil.


These cool season annuals have now arrived at most of the local garden centers. So, get out there and be the envy of your neighborhood by planting a variety of color that will last through next Spring.

For more information on this subject, see  Fact Sheet 6425.

By Jiminy, What's With All the Crickets?  

First the drought, then the fires, and now the locusts...well, not exactly! But what we are seeing lately are crickets by the score. While the sound of crickets chirping away on a summer night can be pleasant, seeing them by the hundreds is definitely not! And lately, we have been seeing plenty of them as field crickets are taking advantage of the weather conditions and spreading like wildfire.


According to Oklahoma State University's Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, these outbreaks seem to occur after periods of prolonged dry weather in spring and early summer followed by rainfall in July and August. Extensive soil cracking may also be an important factor.

Such conditions provide good sites for egg deposition, an abundance of favorable food, vegetation for shelter and a scarcity of parasites and predators.


While not necessarily considered garden pests, crickets will feed on almost anything and occasionally damage alfalfa, cotton, strawberries, vegetables and ornamentals. Additionally, they will be drawn indoors by lights and sometimes damage fabrics, wood, plastic, rubber and leather goods.


Crickets commonly spend the daylight hours hiding in dark, damp areas. Eliminating piles of bricks, stones, wood or other debris around the home will help reduce numbers. Weeds and dense vegetation around the foundations of homes are other good hiding places. Trash dumps provide both food and shelter for crickets and should be cleaned out. Eliminating light sources at night and ensuring there are tights seals around all doors and windows will reduce the number of crickets inside a house or business.


Adult crickets can be difficult to control. Inside homes or buildings, ready-to-use sprays or aerosols applied to baseboards, door thresholds and cracks and crevices where crickets hide can help to control them. Also, it may be helpful to spray outside around the foundation and nearby areas to prevent crickets from moving inside.


Really, though, unless they are coming in your home or place of business in large numbers, it isn't necessary to eliminate them, because they are an important food source for birds and other animals. Give them a little time and they will eventually go away when the weather cools down.

QandA  Q&A

Question: My Encore azaleas are now in bloom and I want to keep them as healthy as possible. When should I fertilize them?

Answer: For those unfamiliar with Encore azaleas, this is a trade name for a cross between a spring blooming azalea and an Asiatic summer blooming variety. Encores bloom both in the spring and as an "encore," they bloom again in the late summer and fall.


The second blooming period may last until cold weather develops. These azaleas are certainly something to add fall color to the garden other than the usual pansies and mums. There is a wide assortment of colors of the 20 or so varieties available.


Local garden centers carry the azaleas that do best in Tulsa. Encore azaleas can tolerate more sun than the standard spring bloomers and seem to bloom better with four to six hours of morning sun and afternoon shade. They are more sensitive to the cold and should be planted with winter wind protection and kept watered in winter. The standard azalea planting techniques with acidic soil, good drainage and mulching apply.


Fertilization for encores is similar to what is recommended for the traditional spring blooming varieties. The fact that they also bloom in the fall suggests they might need a later feeding, but this is not the case. Azaleas are unique, in that they have low nutritional needs and may get ample amounts of nutrients from breakdown of the organic matter in the soil and mulch.


Many people do not fertilize at all; however, if a soil test indicates deficiencies or if the plant is performing poorly, you should fertilize. Also, if the plant has yellowing leaves with dark green veins, this may indicate iron deficiency due to lack of soil acidity. If the soil does not have enough acid, the plant cannot absorb iron and other nutrients. This is common in older azaleas.


If you fertilize, you may use either a preparation labeled for azaleas and rhododendrons or a slow release fertilizer, such as Osmocote, following the label directions. If there is evidence for iron deficiency, use a fertilizer that has added iron or apply iron separately.


The best time to fertilize is in the spring after blooming. Be sure to water well before applying fertilizer. Don't fertilize in the hot summer. Most authorities think that more azaleas are killed by tender loving care, including over fertilization, than by natural diseases.


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