March 2014 / Volume 84              

In This Issue
March Lawn and Garden Tips
Free Trees at the Home and Garden Show
Spring Plant Sale Continues
Oklahoma Proven 2014
Raising Chickens in the Backyard
So Dry! Current Drought Conditions
Ask A Master Gardener...Plant a Row for the Hungry

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

34 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

0.31 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 recommended trees with descriptions.
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.

March Lawn and Garden Tips
  • Cultivate annual flower and vegetable planting beds to destroy winter weeds.
  • Apply mulch to control weeds in beds. Landscape fabric barrier can reduce the amount of mulch but can dry out and prevent water penetration. Thus, organic litter makes the best mulch.
  • Avoid excessive walking and working in the garden when foliage and soils are wet.
  • Start warm-season vegetable transplants indoors.
  • Cool-season vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, onion, peas, spinach, turnips, etc. should be planted by the middle of March.
  • Watch for cutworms that girdle newly planted vegetables during the first few weeks of establishment. Cabbage looper and cabbageworm insects should be monitored and controlled in the garden (EPP-7313). 
  • Continue to plant strawberries, asparagus, and other small fruit crops this month.
  • Start your routine fruit tree spray schedule prior to bud break. (EPP-7319).
  • Remove winter mulch from strawberries in early March (HLA-6214).
  • Remove excessive thatch from warm-season lawns.  Dethatching, if necessary, should precede crabgrass control treatment. (HLA-6604)
  • Broadleaf weeds can easily be controlled in cool-season lawns at this time with post-emergent broadleaf herbicides. (HLA-6421)
  • Preemergent crabgrass control chemicals can still be applied to cool- and warm-season turfgrasses (HLA-6421).  Heed label cautions when using any weed killers near or in the root zone of desirable plantings.
  • March is the second best time of the year to seed cool-season turfgrass; however, fall is the best time to plant. (HLA-6419)
  • Cool-season lawns such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass may be fertilized now with the first application of the season.Fertilize once or twice from late February through April. Then another dose in September and again in November. (Never fertilize cool season grasses in summer. It will make the grass susceptible to heat damage and disease.) See HLA-6420 for information. 
  • Begin mowing cool-season grasses at 1 to 3 inches high. (HLA-6420)
  • Prune roses just before growth starts and begin a regular disease spray program as the foliage appears on susceptible varieties. (HLA-6403 & EPP-7607)
  • Divide and replant overcrowded summer and fall blooming perennials. Mow or cut back old liriope and other ornamental grasses before new growth begins.
  • Prune spring flowering plants, if needed, immediately following their bloom period.
  • Plant evergreen shrubs, balled and burlapped, and bare root trees and shrubs.
  • Anthracnose control on sycamore, maple, and oak should begin at bud swell. (EPP-7634).
  • Diplodia Pine Tip blight control on pines begins at bud swell. (EPP-7618)
  • Chemical and physical control of galls (swellings) on stems of trees should begin now. (EPP-7168 & EPP-7306)
  • Dormant oil can still be applied to control mites, galls, overwintering aphids, etc. (EPP-7306)
  • The first generation of Nantucket Pine Tip Moth appears at this time.  Begin pesticide applications in late March. (EPP-7306)
  • Control Eastern tent caterpillars as soon as the critters appear.

Tulsa Master Gardeners at the Home and Garden Show, March 6-9     
The Tulsa Master Gardener booth at the 2014 HBA Home and Garden Show promises to be one of the best ever! Our booth will once again be located in the center of the lower level of the Tulsa Expo Square building.

There will be something for everyone, including: a raised bed handicapped garden display, live chickens, children's face painting, and a large array of plants for sunny and shady landscapes. Also, we will again be presenting the Insect Adventure! The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension has the only live bug petting zoo in the state. This presentation comes with more than 25 species of living arthropods, as well as a knowledgeable, passionate, and entertaining professional entomologist to walk you through your arthropod discovery and exploration.

This year we are giving away Amur Maple trees. It is a popular small, multi-stemmed specimen tree with outstanding bright reddish fall color. It will grow to 15-20 feet tall by 15-20 feet wide. It is adaptable to a variety of soils and prefers full sun to partial shade.

Trees will be given away three times each day from the center of the Master Gardener booth. Times will be posted at the booth. We hope to see you there!

Tulsa Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale     
Start now planning summer flower beds, pots on the porch and replenished herbal gardens. Go to our website and review the great selection of plants we are offering. You will find pictures and descriptions of each plant. Orders due by March 28. Your plants will be available for pick-up on Thursday, April 17. Master Gardeners will be on site to answer your questions, make suggestions and provide information to make your spring planting enjoyable and successful.

Plants may be purchased two ways:

Preorder - Order and pay online until midnight, Friday, March 28. There is also a PDF version of the order form online which can be printed, filled out and delivered (by mail or in person) to the Tulsa County Master Gardener office (4116 East 15th St, Tulsa, OK 74112-6198) by 4:00 pm, Friday, March 28th.  Master Gardeners will be available at the Extension Center on that day to accept your order with payment of cash, check or credit card from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  


Plant Sale on April 17 - While picking up pre-ordered plants, a wide variety of plants selected just for this one day sale will be available, including natives, proven winners and other hard to find plants. These plants are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Didn't pre-order? No problem. The sale is open to everyone on April 17 from 9:00 am to 7:00am. SHOP EARLY, DON'T MISS THIS!

Oklahoma Proven Selections for 2014      
Each year, horticultural selections are made that are deemed "Oklahoma Proven". Careful research and analysis is done to ensure each chosen selection will withstand the often varied and sometimes brutal Oklahoma growing conditions. Each year one interesting and exciting annual, perennial, shrub, and tree are chosen, plus one "Collectors Choice" (pictured above). Here are the selections for 2014.

Annual - Big Twister Corkscrew Rush: Corkscrew Rush with its uniquely twisted stems, though relatively small (18-24" high and wide), still commands attention in any garden space. The stems curl and spiral creating a tangled mass. Corkscrew Rush grows in full sun to part shade and prefers very moist to wet and acidic soils. Happy even submerged in water, it is perfect for a water garden. Corkscrew Rush also is an excellent accent plant for containers. Though it is considered hardy to zone 6, it tends to be more of a tender perennial in our area. This is likely due to the dry winters and the drastic temperature fluctuations we often experience.

Perennial - Switchgrass: Switchgrass is native throughout North America and is a dominant species of the tallgrass prairies. Full sun is the best exposure for Switchgrass, but it will grow in part shade. However, too much shade or rich soils may result in floppy or "leggy" plants. Switchgrass is a warm-season perennial (hardy to USDA Zones 5-9), growing largely as a bunchgrass 3 to 6 feet tall, but may spread by rhizomes or self-seeding. Switchgrass has an upright, stiff form overall. Flower panicles are open, lacy sprays, with a purplish tint that persists into the winter. Leaf color is generally medium-green, turning yellow sometimes with orange tints in the fall. However, several different cultivars exist: 'Heavy Metal' has metallic-blue foliage; 'Northwind' is bluish-green; 'Shenandoah' has foliage with dark purple tips; and 'Cheyenne Sky' turns wine red. Winter color is tan to beige. Once established, Switchgrass is very drought tolerant and will tolerate about any soil. It is grown as an accent in groups or masses and can be effective as a screen. It also works well in native plant gardens, wild gardens, meadows, naturalized areas, as well as rain, water, and bog gardens.

Shrub - Blue Muffin Viburnum: The Blue Muffin Viburnum is a small, compact version of the native arrowwood viburnum growing about 3 to 5 feet high and just about as wide. Blue Muffin prefers moist, well-drained soils, but is adaptable to a wide range of other soils. Established plants are somewhat drought tolerant, have no serious pest problems, and require very little maintenance, making them excellent for the urban landscape. As with many viburnums, Blue Muffin offers season-long interest with white spring flowers, dark green summer foliage that turns red and orange in fall, and blue fruits the birds love in late summer/fall. Prune right after flowering, but only if necessary. Grow Blue Muffin as a specimen, in groupings, in shrub borders, as a foundation planting or as a hedge. It prefers sun but will tolerate part shade and is hardy to  USDA Zones 3-8.

Tree - Desert Willow: The Desert Willow tree is actually not a willow at all, but prefers dry, well-drained soils, unlike the true willows which grow along streams and ponds. In fact, it will not tolerate heavy, wet soils. It likes exposure to full sun. Because it likes the hotter, drier climates it is an excellent choice for climates even as harsh as western Oklahoma (USDA Hardiness Zones 7-9). Desert-willow grows as a small tree 15 to 30 feet high and 10 to 25 feet wide. It is a loose, gangly tree favored for its colorful, funnel-shaped flowers that put on their biggest show in early summer, and then bloom sporadically throughout the rest of summer. Flowers can be white, pink, rose, or lavender with purple markings inside and are sweetly fragrant. Foliage is a rich green in summer with no fall color...leaves fall early to reveal the interesting branching structure. Several cultivars exist. Desert-willow makes a great patio or small specimen tree and attracts hummingbirds and other birds.

Collector's Choice
- Seven-son-flower: The Seven-son-flower is an upright, irregular, loose and open shrub growing 15 to 20 feet high. Leaves appear in early spring as soft green, maturing to dark green. It is very attractive and pest free. Flower buds form in early summer, but do not open until September. Individual flowers are tiny, but fragrant and attract butterflies to the garden.  Sepals persist and change green to rose-purple and are as attractive as the flowers. The bark is exfoliating, whitish, to rich brown and green. The Seven-son-flower prefers sun to part shade, grows best in moist, well-drained, acid soil (but seems adaptable) with a USDA Zone 5-8 hardiness.

Click here for more information or to review previous year selections.

Backyard Chickens          
The spring season is a perfect time to consider keeping backyard chickens. City ordinances in Tulsa allow for a residence to keep up to six hens as long as poultry housing is kept clean and is at least 50 feet away from any neighboring residences. Day old chicks can be ordered and delivered through the mail. However, travel can cause stress for young chicks resulting in death or illness. A local hatchery where they can be picked up is recommended. 

While complete brooder kits can be purchased at any farm supply, you can assemble one yourself with a large plastic bin, a heat lamp for warmth, paper towels or rubber shelf mats for an absorbent flooring liner, a feeder, and a waterer. Keep the brooder clean by changing out the floor liner on a daily basis. Make sure the chicks have constant access to food, warmth, and water.  

When chicks are fully feathered at about four weeks, they can be moved to their coop. To ensure safety against predators such as raccoons, opossums, and neighborhood dogs, make sure to provide a coop that can be fully enclosed at night while still allowing for proper ventilation. During the day chickens can free range in a protected yard or run. Chickens do like to scratch, dust bathe, and eat green vegetation so make sure that any flower beds or vegetable gardens are protected.  

Hens can be expected to lay their first egg at around six months. Egg production depends on the breed and can be expected to slow down after the first two years. For more information on the care and keeping of chickens we recommend The Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow or click here for a fact sheet. We also recommend consulting your Home Owner's Association and a thorough reading of city ordinances before purchasing chicks.

So Dry!           

It seems that we just can't get out of the dry weather pattern! Officially, 2014 is off to the driest two-month start on record in Tulsa. Also, it has been over 60 days now since we saw precipitation of more than a quarter of an inch...just a few bouts of very light rain or dry, fluffy snow that contributed very little. And, thanks to the lack of significant precipitation, we are officially back into the moderate drought category in most of the immediate area.

Longer range forecasts do not indicate much of a pattern change that would result in above normal rainfall, at least during the early part of March. And, the truth is, we need a major shift in the jet stream over the long term to get us back where we need to be. The biggest immediate impact will be a very high fire danger on those days when we see strong is March after all...and the warmer days that will follow. This winter has to end some time, doesn't it?

Stay up to date on drought conditions here. Remember to keep your trees and shrubs watered until we get some help from Mother Nature.

Question: How can I help the hungry with the extra food I grow in my garden?

Answer: Southwood Landscape & Garden Center is planning their 9th annual Plant a Row for the Hungry event benefitting the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. On Saturday, March 29, customers will receive a free tomato plant, up to 10 per person, in exchange for a non-perishable food donation to the Food Bank. OSU Master Gardeners will be on-hand, along with Southwood staff, to offer gardening tips and information.

However, all vegetable gardeners are encouraged to plant extra and donate the abundance back to the Food Bank. Donations of fresh produce may be made directly to the Food Bank (all year on weekdays) or at follow-up Harvest a Row events at Southwood on July 26 and August 2. Click here for more information from the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.

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