Winter 2013 / Volume 70               

In This Issue
January Lawn and Garden Tips
Gardening New Year's Resolutions
Christmas Cactus Care
Broadleaf Weed Control in Dormant Lawns
A Weather Update for the Gardener
Ask A Master Gardener...Apple and Pecan Tree seeding, grafting

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

42 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

1.08 inches


4 Ways to Contact Us
Email us at:

See our website at: 

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.
January Lawn and Garden Tips


  • Sterilize pots and garden tools. Use one part household bleach to nine parts water. Soak for about 15 minutes, rise, and let dry. 
  • Tulsa also has a free Greenwaste Recycling Center at 10401 E. 56th St. North, which will take your tree (and all other green waste) and will also give you free wood chip mulch, if desired.   


  • Green winter weeds, such as henbit and dandelions, may be controlled in dormant (brown) Bermuda lawns with glyphosate, a herbicide found in Roundup and others. It cannot be used on fescue or zoysia lawns. See article below for more information. 


  • Keep all shrubs and perennials, especially evergreens, watered during dry conditions. Don't forget those under eaves and other protected areas. Watering deeply before predicted hard freeze will reduce chance of winter damage.

    Mulching all plants will conserve water and insulate the soil.

  • Fertilize pansies and violas on a mild winter day. Water when soil is dry.

  • If you have unplanted bulbs from the fall, plant them ASAP. They will bloom less reliably and will have shorter stems, but cannot be saved for the following year.

  • Trees and larger shrubs can still be planted anytime weather permits. Plant what can realistically be maintained, watering when needed through the winter and mulch generously. Wait until spring to plant smaller shrubs, perennials and ground covers. Deciduous shrubs and trees can also be transplanted, weather permitting.

Gardening New Year's Resolutions    

  1. I will spend more time outside in the garden and less watching television and using the computer.
  2. I will water my lawn and gardens only when needed and avoid shallow daily watering. I will water them in the early morning so they will be dry by night.
  3. I will do a soil test for each lawn and garden site and use only the fertilizer ingredients which are indicated.
  4. I will use fewer chemicals in my landscape and when a pesticide is needed, opt for a "softer" organic preparation.
  5. I will start a compost pile and put all my garden wastes to good use rather than sending them to the landfill.
  6. I will visit the OSU Extension center in Tulsa and get OSU's free fact sheets to answer my gardening questions; especially their sheets with detailed recommendations for Bermuda and fescue lawn care.
  7. I will plant that new tree I have been wanting. I will get tree planting instructions from OSU Extension and take care not to plant too deeply and to plant in a wide hole.
  8. I will use lots of mulch. This is my plant's best friend which prevents weeds, moisture loss, moderates temperature and protects against lawn equipment injury.
  9. I will select trees, shrubs and other plants with their adult size-height and width-in mind and place the right plant in the right spot.
  10. I will get my seeds ordered for spring planting by the end of January.

Christmas Cactus Care    

Do you have a Christmas cactus plant handed down from Grandma Mavis that has been in the family for years or did you receive one for the first time as a gift this year? Holiday cacti are known for their colorful tubular flowers and ease of care and you can also take some cuttings and root them so you share your holiday cheer!

Under normal conditions, the cacti will bloom close to the holiday suggested in its name. Florists will often force plants into bloom at other times.  Christmas cacti have flattened leaves with rounded teeth on the margins. Thanksgiving cacti have pointed teeth. To further confuse the issue, much of the Christmas cacti sold are really Thanksgiving cactus and will bloom in the coming years at Thanksgiving. Does it make a difference? It probably matters only to botanists and master gardeners.

Here's how to enjoy your holiday cactus regardless of the variety. When the plant is in bloom, it needs bright indirect light. Temperatures of 65-70 degrees are ideal. Be sure to water thoroughly and let the soil dry between watering. Although the plant name would suggest limited watering, it is actually a succulent and not a true cactus. If the plant gets too dry, the leaves will look wrinkly and flower buds may drop. However, over-watering causes root rot.

You can place your plant in a shady spot outside in the summer. Fertilize monthly from April to October and leave it outside until temperatures reach about 45 degrees. Longer nights and cool temperatures will help it develop flowers. Bring it inside and put it on "automatic pilot", except for regular watering.

Large sections with at least 3 leaves can be rooted either in water or moist vermiculite. Be patient! It takes about two months for a section to develop roots. Although the larger cutting will shrivel and look like it is going to die, do not discard it yet, and don't cut off the wilted leaves. Soon they will green up and puff up into healthy leaves. Just because the cutting looks terrible, it does not mean necessarily that it is dead. Hang in there with it. For more information, click here.

broadleafBroadleaf Weed Control in Dormant Lawns

Oklahoma lawns are made up of either warm-season or cool-season grasses and will either be brown or green at this time of year. Warm-season grasses-Bermuda and Zoysia, become dormant and turn brown in winter. Cool-season grasses--mainly Tall Fescue with some Kentucky Bluegrass, will still be green and remain so through the winter.


Herbicides may be used for weed control in lawns during the winter months. This involves two different types of products. Glyphosate, the herbicide found in Roundup and many other brands is a non-selective herbicide. It will kill any plant which is green at anytime. The other category are the 2,4-D products such as Weed-B-Gon or Trimec (there are many brands and combinations of herbicides in this group). These are broadleaved herbicides and are safe to use on any turfgrass at any time of the year.


Glyphosate is an excellent herbicide to use on a Bermuda lawn in January and February when the lawn in dormant (brown). Dormant Bermuda is insensitive to the herbicide, while anything else in the Bermuda lawn can be killed. This includes both broadleaved weeds (such as henbit) as well as any grassy weeds (such as annual bluegrass). Use on a day when the temperature is above 50. It may take a several days to see the effect depending on the temperature.


Glyphosate should never be used on zoysia or tall fescue lawns at any time of the year. Even though zoysia appears dormant in winter, it still is sensitive to the herbicide.


The most commonly used herbicides for controlling broadleaf weeds in lawns contain 2,4-D often mixed with Banvel (dicamba), MCPP (mecoprop), and 2,4-DP or DPC (Dichloprop) or one of several other herbicides. These herbicide combinations are for postemergent broadleaf weed control on most Oklahoma lawn grasses at any time of the year. Many of these chemicals are related to plant growth hormones. They affect the growth of weeds and are most effective when weeds are actively growing in spring and, especially, in fall. They still have some utility in winter, applied during a warm spell when the temperatures are over 50.


The downside to this combination of herbicides is that the vapors, especially of 2,4-D, may drift and damage other plants. This is worse in summer when it is hot but is a risk any season, especially when windy. Labeled directions will outline when how and when it is best apply that particular combination of herbicides.


Most of the herbicides in these combinations are immobile in the soil and are no significant threat to other landscape plants. Banvel (dicamba), however, is an exception. It is mobile and may cause significant damage to trees and shrubs if applied to turfgrass overlying roots of these plants. Many of the newer postemergent combinations omit Banvel because of this effect.


It cannot be over-emphasized that the labeled directions should be followed. Many of these newer products contain newer herbicides and one set of instructions does not fit all.


One final thought: A healthy, vigorous turf is the best control for weeds. Most common broadleaf weeds are not a problem when a well-adapted turfgrass is properly established, fertilized, mowed, and watered. So, keep your lawn in a healthy state and fewer chemicals will be needed.

For more detailed information on this subject click here, or read OSU Fact Sheets HLA-6601 and/or HLA-6421

A Weather Update for the Gardener    

It looks like 2012 will officially go down in the record books as Tulsa's warmest on record. That, in itself, is a big weather story. However, the bigger news continues to be the drought that has plagued the area for over two years now. Precipitation in the Tulsa area was generally between 12 and 15 inches below normal for 2012, and we continue to see extreme to exceptional drought conditions.

With the current drought in mind, remember the following tips to keep plants healthy through the winter and give them a head start on spring growth.
  • Keep all plants watered even though some may be dormant. Don't neglect those plants under eaves of a house. They may receive no precipitation, especially during lighter rainfall events.
  • Irrigate all plantings at least 24 hours before hard-freezing weather if soil is dry. Try to water deeply, the shallow roots do not absorb water as well as deeper ones during freezing temperatures.
For a list of low water use plants for our area, click here. Stay up to date at the National Weather Service, Tulsa office website.

QandA  Q&A
Question: I have an old apple tree that is on the decline. Can I plant apple seeds to get a new one? What about pecans?

Answer: You can grow a new tree from fruit seeds under certain conditions, but they will not "grow true" from the seeds. That is, the tree may look like the parent, but the fruit probably will not look nor taste the same.

When seeds are formed on most plants, they contain a combination of genetic information from the male (pollen) and the female (ovule) parts. This produces a mixture of genes and will produce a hybrid, or mixture, of two plants. This is true for fruits and as well for pecans.

Due to the unpredictable results from planting hybrid seeds, fruit and pecan trees are reproduced by one of the various types of grafting. Grafting is when the roots of one plant (rootstock), is joined with the cuttings (scions) of another plant. When the two are joined successfully the scion will be an exact copy of the parent tree and produce fruit with desirable characteristics. Another benefit of this procedure is that the selected rootstock may benefit the tree by having an advantage of better pest and weather tolerance.

The scions for both pecan and fruit trees may be purchased or collected from your favorite tree from mid-December until late winter. They should be obtained before any buds begin to open up in the spring and stored moist in the refrigerator.

Should you decide to plant a seed or a pecan to grow a new tree, the fall of the year is the time to begin the process. Seeds from fruits and pecans must be "stratified" or exposed to colder temperatures to prepare them for growth. The duration of exposure and  temperatures needed varies widely from species to species-some may need up to 4 months of cooling before being ready to plant.

Whether you plan on grafting or planting seeds, you will need to do some homework to understand the conditions needed for successful propagation. Master Gardeners at the OSU Extension is a good place to start for useful information. In addition, OSU has many fact sheets (F-6227, F-6211), with detailed information about the types of grafting and how to perform them. Click here for a list of resources.

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