October 2014 / Volume 92        

In This Issue
September Lawn and Garden Tips
Fall Armyworms
Peony, Queen of Flowers
Ask A Master Gardener...Fescue re-seeding

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

66 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

4.04 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

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.

October Lawn and Garden Tips     
  • Dig sweet potatoes and harvest pumpkins and winter squash.
  • Remove green fruit from tomato plants when frost threatens.
  • Harvest Oriental persimmons and pawpaws as they begin to change color.
    There is still time to plant radishes and mustard in the fall garden.
  • Use a cold frame device to plant spinach, lettuce and various other cool-season crops for production most of the winter.
  • Plant cool-season cover crops like Austrian winter peas, wheat, clover, and rye in otherwise fallow garden plots.
  • Remove all debris from the garden to prevent overwintering of various garden pests.
  • Start new planting bed preparations now with plenty of organic matter.
  • You can continue to replant or establish cool-season lawns like fescue.
  • The mowing height for fescue should be lowered to approximately 2.5 inches for fall and winter cutting.
  • Broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be easily controlled during October. Mow and neatly edge warm-season lawns before killing frost.
  • Plant cool-season annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller when temperatures begin to cool.
  • Begin planting spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinths, crocus and daffodils.
  • Good companion plants for bulbs are ground covers such as ajuga, vinca, English ivy, alyssum, moneywort, thrift, phlox, oxalis and leadwort.
  • Peonies, daylilies, and other spring-flowering perennials should be divided or planted now.
  • Dig and store tender perennials like cannas, dahlias, and caladiums in a cool, dry location.
  • Purchase trees from nurseries and garden centers at this time to select the fall color you prefer.
  • Many perennials can be planted at this time and the selection is quite nice.
  • Plant fall mums and asters and keep them watered during dry conditions. Don't crowd since they take a couple of years to reach maturity.
  • Plant container-grown trees and shrubs this month.
  • Check and treat houseplants for insect pests before bringing them indoors and repot rootbound plants.
  • Take tropical water garden plants indoors when water temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Close the water garden for the winter by placing hardy plants in the deeper areas of the pool. Stop feeding the fish.
  • Cover water gardens with bird netting to catch dropping leaves during the winter months.

Proper TLC for Perennials    
raised bed 1
While annuals provide a kaleidoscope of color, perennials are also a must to have in our gardens. They provide a wide variety of texture, shape and color that adds style and charisma to our flower beds. Most are herbaceous, which means they lose their foliage in the fall/winter and then re-emerge from the roots again next spring. They bloom once a year and grow in enlarging clusters such that every few years they become overcrowded, leading to a decline in blooms and an increase in susceptibility to disease. Therefore, while you don't have to replant these each year like annuals, their maintenance requirement includes dividing every few years. This thinning-out process improves overall blooming, allows you to control their overall size, and adds to your plant population.  

The best time to divide perennials is just after blooming has completed and the plant has gone inactive for the year. Plants that bloom early in the season are best divided in the fall, while the fall bloomers should be dug up and divided in the spring. Before digging up, water the plant well and trim the stems to about six inches long, as this helps to reduce water loss. When digging, be sure to keep as much of the root system with the plant as possible. Then, shake off the soil and either pull or cut the clump apart to get two or more divisions with roughly an equal number of roots and stems. To reduce drying out and overall shock to your plants, it is wise to prepare the new planting bed ahead of time so that the time the plants are out of the ground is minimal. The new hole should be amended with compost and a slow-release complete fertilizer. Discard unhealthy appearing plant parts.  

In general, the new division should be planted such that the crown (where the stem and roots meet) is at the ground level. One notable exception is Peonies, whose crowns should be about two inches deep. After replanting, they should be watered well to get the soil settled in and around the roots. After a couple of frosts, cover with 2-3 inches of any type of mulch. After winter, remove the mulch to help the ground warm up and they will soon reward you with new growth.  

Hostas are a very popular perennial for this area. Sometimes they will produce very well then, over time, bloom less. Take a look to see if they have lost their favorite shady spot. If they have, they should be transplanted back to a more shady location. They can tolerate a half day of morning sun but perform poorly if exposed to the hot afternoon sun. They can be successfully moved in either the fall or spring. Now is actually a good time to move them, as it gives the plants about 30 days before our first average frost in early November. If moved in the spring, do so just after new growth emerges.

For more information on perennials, please visit our website or call the OSU Extension Office to speak to a Master Gardener.  Happy Fall Gardening!

First Steps: Preparing a New Flower Bed or Rejuvenating an Existing One     

Building a New Flower Bed

So you want to build a flower bed. You could just dig a hole in your yard and drop those pretty plants you bought at the nursery in it. They might grow-for a while but then again they might not grow at all. If you really want to get your money's worth out of those plants, there are a number of factors you need to consider.

When building a new flower bed ask yourself, "where?" Select the location in your yard you would like to have a flower bed. Now ask yourself, "what?" Think about what types of flowers/plants you like. Do you like annuals, perennials, or a combination of the two? Do you need sun loving plants or shade loving plants in your selected location? Are they hardy in our zone? If a plant is not hardy in our zone, it is considered an annual and will not overwinter unless you are willing to do the extra work of digging it up every fall and replanting it every spring.

Once the decisions of where and what are made, there is still a lot of work to be done! So get on your garden duds and get rid of all those weeds and turf. You can do all this with good ol' manual labor, or you can take a shortcut and kill it off with a suitable chemical. Always read the label and pay careful attention to the instructions. You don't want to put those pretty plants in the ground too soon after spraying.

Now we have bare soil, but we still aren't ready to plant yet. Now the soil has to be prepped, amended and fertilized. Why? It improves the tilth, texture, aeration, and drainage. Add 3-4 inches of any combination of the following organic matter: peat, compost, leaves, dry grass clippings, well-rotted manure and fertilizer. Exactly how much fertilizer you will need is best determined by having a soil test done through your local extension office. Till this combination into your soil about 6-8 inches deep, but before you do, test the soil moisture. Grab a handful and squeeze it into a ball. If it crumbles when touched then till away, but if remains a tight ball, wait until it dries out a bit.

When should all this work be done? It can be done in the fall, in the spring or both. But once you are done you will be ready to plant those beautiful flowers. Don't forget to rake the soil even and add a slight slope for drainage and for heaven's sake don't water them to death! Enjoy your brand new flower bed.

Rejuvenating an Existing Flower Bed
Suppose you have an established bed...what should you do for next spring? You start with a little TLC in the fall. You don't have to dig everything up but you do have to put your garden to "bed" for the winter. Whether you have an annual bed, a perennial bed or a combination you have to clean your bed. You don't like sleeping in a dirty bed do you? Well neither do your plants!

Why must the flower bed be cleaned? It eliminates hiding and breeding sites for disease and pests. So pull up all the dead annuals, herbaceous plant debris, diseased perennials and cut back the healthy perennials. This should be done when the plants begin dying back as the temperatures cool, and should continue until after the first killing frost. After that happens, you may cut back healthy perennials to ground level, if you wish, but this is not totally necessary. They can be left until spring especially if they add winter interest.

My bed is clean-can I go to sleep now? Not quite yet, because  we still need to add the bedding. If you have an annual bed, just add some organic matter and till it in. Cover it with 2-3 inches of mulch and wait for spring. A perennial bed, on the other hand, should not be tilled, as we don't want to disturb the established root system. Just add 2-3 inches of mulch in the late fall. This is especially important to protect newly established plants from damage in case of heaving during the freeze and thaws of winter. More established perennial beds don't require as much protection but mulching them would still be beneficial. One last thing; cooler weather does not mean your plants no longer require water, so continue watering and make sure you get them one last time before the ground freezes because they aren't dormant yet.

At this point, all that is left to do is take it easy, and wait for spring!

Question: I have heard that fall is the time to plant garlic. What do I need to know to get started?

Answer: It's not been proven whether garlic wards off vampires and werewolves, but there is ample testimony that it enhances the flavor of many foods. Morley Safer, the news anchorman, declared, "You can never have enough garlic. With enough garlic, you can eat The New York Times". Garlic, allium sativum, is from the lily family along with onions, leeks, and shallots. It's easy to grow. Growing tips:
PLANTING TIME:  Ideal time is Sept 1 through Oct 15. (More info here).

WHAT TO PLANT:  Grocery store garlic can be used but not generally recommended because it's treated to discourage sprouting and may not suited to our growing area. Mail order and garden centers provide quality bulbs. The most successful varieties for our area are German Red, Inchillium Red, Silverskin, and Spanish Roja (more info here), but other varieties might be worth a try.

SOIL:  Garlic tolerates wide range but prefers slightly acid 6.2-6.8 pH, loose soil, good drainage, full day sun. Raised beds, containers, half barrels, wooden crates, and large black plastic tree tubs can be used.

PLANTING/CARE:  Separate  cloves from the bulb, leaving outer skin on. Bigger cloves grow bigger bulbs. Plant cloves root end down, pointed end up, 8" apart. Cover with 2" of soil, followed with a 4-6" layer of mulch. Foliage emerges in about 4-8 weeks. Provide 1 inch of water weekly throughout growing season. Garlic loves fertilizer high in nitrogen. Some growth will occur in the fall before cold weather sets in. Growth stops during winter, before resuming in the spring. Cut off edible flower shoots (scapes) that appear in the spring, as this helps the bulbs grow larger. When the leaves begin yellow in the summer, stop watering to help the bulbs firm up.  

HARVEST:  Harvest when leaves begin to yellow, in mid-summer. Move soil away from heads, and lift them out carefully...do not pull them by their tops. Once out of the ground, let whole plant dry 1-2 weeks. When outer skin is papery, brush dirt away without removing papery outer skin.  Trim off the foliage, leaving 1" of stem and " of the roots. Store the bulbs at 55-70 degrees in a location with  good air circulation (mesh onion bags are good for this), and in indirect light.

GARLIC BREATH REMEDIES: Many cooks promote chewing 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley.  Others recommend brushing teeth with salt or sucking on a slice of lemon. Enjoy your garlic...it's good stuff!

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