November 2014 / Volume 93      

In This Issue

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

57 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

4.69 inches


4 Ways to Contact Us
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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.

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November Lawn and Garden Tips     
  • Delay pruning fruit trees until next February or March before bud break.

  • Harvest pecans and walnuts immediately to eliminate deterioration of the kernel.

  • Leftover garden seeds can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer until next planting season.  Discard seeds over 3 years old.

  • Gather and shred leaves.  Add to compost, use as mulch or till into garden plots.

  • Clean and store garden and landscape tools. Coat with a light application of oil to prevent rusting. Drain fuel tanks, irrigation lines and hoses. Bring hoses indoors.
  • Fertilize cool-season grasses like fescue with 1pound nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft.
  • Continue to mow fescue as needed at 2 inches and water during dry conditions.
  • Control broadleaf winter weeds like dandelions.
  • Keep falling leaves off fescue to avoid damage to the foliage.
  • Prune deciduous trees in early part of winter.  Prune only for structural and safety purposes.
  • Wrap young, thin-barked trees with a commercial protective material to prevent winter sunscald.
  • Apply dormant oil for scale infested trees and shrubs before temperatures fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow label directions.
  • Continue to plant balled and burlapped and containerized trees.
  • Watch for arborvitae aphids, which tolerate cooler temperatures in evergreen shrubs.
  • Tulips can still be successfully planted through the middle of November.
  • Leave foliage on asparagus, mums, and other perennials to help insulate crowns from harsh winter conditions.
  • Bulbs like hyacinth, narcissus and tulip can be potted in containers for indoor forcing.

Selection and Fertilization
of Trees and Shrubs     
josie driskill Proper selection of your horticultural items is key to long-term success. A lot of money (and time!) can be spent on fertilizing trying to save a tree or shrub that may have been doomed from the beginning. So, let's quickly cover proper selection first, and then move on to proper fertilization.

First and foremost, be choosy! For trees, look for specimens with lots of roots (for viewing, don't be afraid to pull them from their container, or ask someone to help you see them). While plentiful in number, they should be spread out and not be circling or girdling the trunk. Once circling has begun, it tends to continue even after it has been transplanted. The trunk should be straight and undamaged. Branches should be widely spaced on the trunk and connected to the trunk at a wide angle - the wider the angle, the better. Leaves should be evenly distributed with a healthy look.  Foliage should cover the entire canopy evenly with no large empty spots.

For fertilizing trees, apply a granular fertilizer beginning in April and during the growing season. Winter fertilization is not recommended. Use only nitrogen fertilizer, unless a soil test specifically indicates the soil is phosphorus and/or potassium deficient.

For fertilizing shrubs/perennials, use one-half to one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer, taking care not to exceed one tablespoon per foot of height for fertilizers containing 10% or more of nitrogen.  Because shrubs have somewhat of a limited root system, spread the described amount of fertilizer under the shrub and scratch it into the soil about one-half inch deep. Unless a soil test indicates otherwise, use a fertilizer containing 10-16% nitrogen. Fertilizers such as 16-4-8 and 12-4-8 have the ideal ratio for woody plants, but fertilizers such as 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 can also be used. Woody plants can absorb nutrients as long as the soil temperature is above 40�F. Check the Oklahoma Mesonet ( for up-to-date soil temperatures. Note that root growth occurs during cool weather even when the foliage appears dormant. Root growth of woody ornamentals is most active in the fall, then again in late winter/early spring, but then slows during hot weather.  Finally, when applying fertilizer, remember that nitrogen is readily absorbed by surface application since it is carried by water, while phosphorus and potassium are much more slowly absorbed.

It is always best to base your fertilizer choice and amount on a soil test first. This test can be done for a nominal fee by the OSU soil testing lab. Contact the Tulsa OSU Extension Office for details at 918-746-3701.

Finally, don't forget to water the lawn, shrubs and young trees. During the dry conditions that we have been experiencing over the past few years, both the yard and flower beds would appreciate a drink of water once a week. And finally, don't forget to feed and water our friends the birds.

For more information, see OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6404 (Winter Protection for Landscape Plants)

Wise Winter Watering      
As winter weather draws near, caring for your newly planted trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants should include a plan for a winter watering schedule. Lack of adequate soil moisture is often a major cause of winter damage. Freshly installed plants will need to be watered in all seasons, including winter, for two to three years in order to get well established. Until the roots grow into the surrounding soil, the plant can dehydrate even though the bed soil is damp. Plants should be watered thoroughly in the fall to prepare them for the winter months.

It is true that plants go dormant in winter and thus require less water, but the root system continues to grow and take up water to sustain the plants. All plants, but especially narrowleaf and broadleaf evergreens, use water during winter. Remember to water plants that are located under the eaves of a building or home since they often receive little natural precipitation.

Since we remain in a long-term drought, it is possible that we could encounter dry circumstances this winter also. Winter drought can stress plants as readily as a hot summer drought. If the soil is dry, minimal moisture uptake occurs no matter what season it is.

If there is little rain or snow, plan to water thoroughly at least monthly. Slow deep watering is most beneficial, particularly if you have heavy clay soil. Use drip irrigation, water bags on trees, a slow running hose or soaker hose at the drip line of trees. Snowfall is not a reliable source of adequate water as it takes 5-10 inches of snow (sometimes much more) to yield one inch of water. Check the Oklahoma mesonet for dependable, up-to-date information on soil moisture in our area.

It is also important to keep your plants well mulched over the winter. This not only provides insulation against cold temperatures but helps to retain moisture to the root system.  
For more information:
HLA-6404 Winter Protection for Landscape Plants
L-432 Seasonal Landscape Maintenance!

El Ni�o a No-go for Oklahoma Precipitation 
By now it's no secret that long-term drought has been raging across northeast Oklahoma for the past few years. True, we have seen some timely rains here and there during the past two growing seasons, but we are still anxiously awaiting the proverbial "drought-buster"...or more realistically, a prolonged period of above normal rainfall. That is something we have not seen since early 2010!

Earlier this year, the buzz about a developing El Ni�o gave us some hope for a wet 2014-15 winter season, and the potential for some real relief from the drought. You may recall that El Ni�o winters have a strong tendency for above normal seasonal precipitation across the southern tier of states, and, in the case of strong El Ni�o events, that trend is felt in Oklahoma as well.

At one point, it was thought a moderate or even strong El Ni�o may be on the way this winter. But this particular El Niňo seems to be in no hurry to get it's act together and, as of November 1, ocean temperatures along the Equator in the Pacific Ocean were only slightly above normal...not enough to call this an El Ni�o yet. Forecasts do indicate about a two in three chance of El Niňo developing between now and the end of the year, and continuing through the spring of 2015.

So, what does this mean for our weather? The bad news in this case is that, assuming an El Ni�o does develop, it will likely be a weak one, which does not bode well for precipitation in northeast Oklahoma. The official Winter Outlook issued by the Climate Prediction center calls for equal chances of above, near or below normal precipitation for December through February. Perhaps we'll be lucky, but for now, keep irrigating as necessary, and know that this drought will end someday!

Click here for the current Oklahoma Drought Monitor.

Question: I have had an unusual number of small twigs falling from my oak and hickory trees this fall, and oddly, they all appear to have been cut. What could be causing this to happen, and is there anything I need to do?

Answer:  Small branches accumulating on the ground and the presence of clean-cut twigs, and in some cases dangling (flagged) branch tips within a tree, indicate the presence of beetle pests referred to as twig girdlers. This long-horned beetle species (Cerambycidae) attacks numerous types of shade, nut and fruit trees. Heavily damaged trees appear ragged and unattractive, and young trees can become deformed by repeated attacks.

This insect is distributed throughout the eastern United States from New England to Florida and as far west as Kansas and Arizona. The adults have a grayish-brown body that is stout and cylindrical. The larva are also cylindrical with a small head and shiny integument. Larvae can be up to one inch in length and are light brown to brownish-gray.

Girdled twigs often remain on the tree until sufficient wind dislodges them. Large infestations can result in a high percentage of twigs being girdled. Though this may reduce the vigor and overall appearance of the tree, the overall effect on the tree's health is typically not severe. However, heavy infestations in pecan orchards can significantly reduce the fruiting area of the trees, resulting in low nut yields the following year and sometimes longer.

This beetle has a one year life cycle. Late in the growing season, the female deposits eggs in small scars it has chewed through the bark and then chews a continuous notch around the twig, girdling it. The notch is cut below the site of egg deposition apparently because the larva is unable to complete development in the presence of large amounts of sap. Girdled twigs die and fall to the ground where the eggs hatch.

Girdled twigs look like a beaver has worked on it only in miniature. The outside of the twig is smoothly cut but the center of the twig has a broken appearance. The larvae begin feeding on dead wood inside the twigs the following spring and continue through most of the summer. Pupation takes place inside the feeding cavity. Development is completed during August when the adult emerges to repeat the cycle. Though the adults will feed on the bark of host twigs, damage is minimal until the female starts the girdling process.

Chemical control is impractical. Fallen twigs should be gathered and disposed of from now through spring as this will destroy the larvae inside the twigs. Unfortunately, the twigs do not fall all at once, so clean-up can be a drawn out process. Often, natural mortality is high due to excessive drying of fallen twigs or too many larvae per twig.

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