February 2013 / Volume 71                

In This Issue
February Lawn and Garden Tips
Spring Plant Sale
A Primer on Pruning
Strong Trees Bear the Best Fruit
Ask A Master Gardener...Apple and Pecan Tree seeding, grafting

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

47 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

2.10 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.
February Lawn and Garden Tips


  • Begin planting blackberries, strawberries, grapes and other perennial garden crops later this month.

  • 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. 


  • 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. Click here for turf maintenance schedule. 


  • 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 crapemyrtle without a reason. Read Primer on Pruning below for more details. 

  • 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 fruit tree spray schedules from the Master Gardener web site. Horticultural oils and fungicides may be used this month. Each fruit type has a different schedule

  • 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.   


The Spring Plant Sale is On 
When? Thursday, April 18th, from 9 am to 7 pm

Where? Tulsa County Fairgrounds, Central Park Hall, Gate 12
Now is the time to plan your flower beds. From color in a shady area to plants that thrive in the searing heat of summer, we have a diverse selection of plants to make your garden sparkle. Visit the Spring Plant Sale on our website and view the nearly 200 plants you can order for April planting. Then, save some time on April 18 to browse the hundreds of specially selected plants to purchase on sale day. We can answer your questions, make suggestions and provide information to make your spring planting enjoyable and successful. Proceeds from the Spring Plant Sale support the many Tulsa County Master Gardener programs that are provided free in our community.     

How to order
  • Pre-order Form: This year you can order and pay online through Thursday, March 28. You can also print this form and fill out, or you can pick up a paper order form at the OSU Extension center. The paper forms must be received (by mail or in person) at the Tulsa County Master Gardener office (4116 East 15th St, Tulsa, OK 74112-6198) by 4:00 pm, Thursday, March 28th.   
  • Plant Sale on April 18: Pre-ordered plants must be picked up at Central Park Hall on April 18 from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.  For those who didn't pre-order, come by Central Park Hall on the 18th and you will find a wide variety of plants especially selected just for this one day sale, including natives, proven winners and other hard to find plants. These plants are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, so COME EARLY! 

Thank you for supporting the Tulsa County Master Gardener Program! 

PruningA Primer on Pruning     
There are generally four things to consider when deciding to prune woody trees and shrubs:
  1. What limbs or branches to prune
  2. When the best time to prune for a healthy plant is
  3. How to prune to allow for healthy recovery
  4. What is the proper tool care
Late winter is the optimal time to prune back most trees and shrubs. Pruning too early in the fall can accidentally promote new growth that is susceptible to cold weather damage and may lead to disease issues. Spring-blooming (before June) trees and shrubs should be pruned just after they bloom, before they form their buds for next growing season. If you wait too long, you risk cutting off new buds for next year's growth. Plants blooming after spring usually flower from buds formed the same growing season and are best pruned in late winter. 

A very common question is when to prune crapemyrtles. Experts recommend late winter to early spring before new growth as the ideal time. One should prune these shrubs only if there is a specific reason to do so. Cutting off the tops because everyone else seems to do so is not a reason. Also, pruning will not increase blossom production, it has shown to actually result in less flower production. Older crape myrtles develop a beautifully mottled bark as they age if they are not pruned severely each year. However, in northeast Oklahoma, these shrubs can be winter killed to the ground every 5 to 7 years so developing this beautiful bark is more of a challenge.

As for your ornamental grasses, don't be too quick to cut them back. They can provide very nice aesthetics in the winter with their earthy tan colors and decorative flower and seed heads that gently sway in our Oklahoma breezes. But, for new growth to occur in the spring, cut them back to a few inches in height in late winter. If needed, you may use a powered hedge trimmer to accomplish this task.

Finally, it is always important to keep your pruning tools clean to prevent the spread of disease from one plant to another. Thus, you should clean and sanitize after each use. It is also important to keep your blades sharp to allow for a clean cut each time.

For more information on this subject, please visit the new and improved Tulsa Master Gardeners OSU Extension Website, section on  "Pruning and Trimming". OSU fact sheet 6409 can be particularly helpful as it has all of the information needed to prune (why, when, how) as well as Do's & Don'ts, proper tools to use, and even some myths about pruning.

Strong Trees Bear The Best Fruit  
Few things are more satisfying than picking your own fruit fresh off of the tree. While fruit trees in general are not the easiest trees to grow, you can have good success by paying attention to their needs and by frequent observation. Don't be afraid to be aggressive in the care and pruning of fruit trees. Beginning at planting, it is important to develop a strong tree framework before allowing it to bear fruit.

First of all, be sure your tree is planted in full sun as light infiltration to the inside of the limbs is critical. That is why it is necessary to prune the tree rather than just letting it grow however it wishes. The tree needs sun penetration to the interior to decrease the chance of disease and to increase the sweetness and ripening of the fruit. Pruning lowers the density of the interior limbs and allows for air circulation which is important also in disease reduction.

February through March is an excellent time to prune, before trees break their dormancy. Be observant, though! With the temperature fluctuations that we have in this area, your tree may break dormancy earlier than usual, especially in a mild winter like this one. All fruit plant pruning begins with removing the three D's: dead, damaged and diseased wood. You should also remove limbs that may rub on another causing damage. Any cut less than two inches in diameter needs no pruning paint. Larger ones probably don't need it either, but slant their cut so that water does not run into the center of the tree, causing rot to begin.

Fruit trees need pruning to encourage new growth, but also to keep plants short and stocky to help the tree bear a fruit load without broken branches. Most small fruit plants, such as grapes, blueberries and blackberries are pruned to renew the growth.

There are two main types of fruit-bearing trees: Pome Fruits (apples, pears) and stone fruits (peaches, Cherries, etc.). Pome fruits are pruned to spread limbs and to strengthen and shape the tree. For apples and pears, this technique is usually called the modified central leader technique. Central leader trees have one main trunk with about five to seven scaffold branches coming out of the trunk. The top of the tree is narrower than the bottom and may have a oval shape. Stone fruits are generally pruned to a more open-centered shape. Visualize your hand upturned with fingers curled slightly upward....that's how a peach should look after pruning.

For more detailed information on pruning your fruit trees, See OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6228.

Question: Should asparagus be planted in the fall or the spring? How should it be planted?

Answer: Asparagus is a valuable vegetable for your garden. It is tasty, healthy and easy to grow. It may be planted in late fall, winter or in the spring when crowns (asparagus roots) are available.

This plant has a few growth requirements that should be heeded. It needs full sun and needs its own space where it may produce spears for 15 years. The plant must have well drained soil; it will fail in overly moist areas. This plant, like most others, appreciates generous amounts of composted organic material tilled into its bed.

Unlike many vegetables which prefer slightly acidic soils, asparagus prefers a neutral pH of about 7. A soil test will give you information both for pH (level of acidity) and other nutrients needed.

Asparagus crowns from one year old plants are usually planted in a furrow about 5-6 inches deep. Add a couple of inches of soil initially, then add more soil to fill in the furrow as the plant grows.

The key to good production of asparagus is to develop large healthy root systems. Thus you should not harvest at all the first growing season and allow the plant's energy to be devoted to establishing roots. After that, you can harvest for 2-3 weeks the second year, 4-6 weeks the third and 8-12 weeks each year thereafter. Stop harvesting when the new spears are small; 3/8 inch in diameter or so.

After you finish harvesting, let the ferns grow out, as they continue to feed next year's crop as long as they are green. You can leave the ferns up until they turn brown, or leave them until the following spring as protection against the elements.

Click here for the OSU fact sheet, "Asparagus Culture in the Home Garden".

Question: Is it useful to add my fireplace ashes to my vegetable garden?

Answer: Many people wish to recycle ashes. They may be used, but there are some negatives. If you do use them in your garden, you should perform a soil test first.

Ashes have no plant nutrients other than potassium. They do have a lot of undesirable salt and are very alkaline. Their use will reduce soil acidity and add salt to the soil. Too much can ruin your soil. If you do use them, OSU recommends applying 10-20 gallons per 1000 sq. feet no more often than once every 10 years.

See OSU fact sheet, "Fireplace Ashes for Garden Use".

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