June 2015 / Volume 99       

In This Issue

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

76 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

15.53 inches


Donations Keep The Tulsa Master Gardener Program Going Strong
Recognition of this month's donations:

Nancy Wirth (in memory of Warren Wirth)


Suzanne & Roger Ames (in memory of Warren Wirth)


David Halpern (in memory of Warren Wirth)


Diane Erbacher (in memory of Warren Wirth)


Woodland View Park (in memory of Warren Wirth)


Carol B. Jones (in memory of Warren Wirth)


Lynn Anderson (for the Speaker's Bureau)

The Tulsa Master Gardener Foundation receives no city, state or federal funding for its programs. In fact, the majority of Tulsa's Master Gardener programs are self-funded. While we have many dues-paying members, income received from dues pays for less than 5% of total annual expenses. 

Tulsa Master Gardener's own fundraisers make up most of the income to cover expenses. A significant portion comes from the Tulsa Master Gardener annual plant sale that is held each April. Other fundraisers include the Garden Tour (June) and "garage sales" that occur from time to time. However, one other income source that sometimes gets overlooked is  personal and corporate donations.

To find out how you can help support all that the Tulsa Master Gardeners do for their community, contact the Tulsa Master Gardener office directly. 

4 Ways to Contact Us
Email us at:

See our website at: www.tulsamastergardeners.org 

Call: 918-746-3701 from 9-4, Monday - Friday 
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.

June Garden, Lawn & Landscape Tips
  • Plant watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, okra, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Fruit spray programs should be faithfully continued during the next several weeks.
  • Late May is the best time to control borers in the orchard.  Check for label recommendations and controls. 
  • Pinch back leggy annuals to encourage new growth. Fertilize and water appropriately.
  • Feed established mums and other perennials.
  • When picking fresh roses or removing faded ones, cut back to a leaflet facing the outside of the bush to encourage open growth and air circulation.
  • Stake tall perennials before toppling winds arise
  • White grubs will soon be emerging as adult June Beetles. Watch for high populations that can indicate potential damage from later life cycle stages as grubs in the summer.
  • Cool-season lawns can be fertilized again. If you did not fertilize cool-season grasses in March and April, do so now, but not in the hot summer.
  • Warm-season lawns may be fertilized again in May/June. (HLA-6420)
  • Seeding of warm-season grasses such as bermudagrass, buffalograss, zoysiagrass and centipedegrass is best performed in mid-May through the end of June (through July for improved varieties such as Riviera and Yukon) to reduce winterkill losses. The soil temperatures are warm enough for germination and adequate growing season is present to promote winter hardiness (HLA-6419).
  • Brown patch disease of cool-season grasses can be a problem. (HLA-6420).
  • Dollar spot disease of lawns can first become visible in mid-May. Make certain fertilizer applications have been adequate before ever applying a fungicide. (EPP-7658).
  • Nutsedge plants become visible by now. Post-emergent treatments are best applied for the first time in May/June.
  • The second application of pre-emergent annual grass herbicides can be applied in late-May or early June, depending upon timing of first application. Check label for details.
  • Prune and feed azaleas immediately after blooming.

  • Insect Alert (EPP-7306)

    • Bagworms on juniper and arborvitae. (Late May)
    • Elm leaf beetles and larvae on elms (Late May)
    • Mimosa webworms on mimosa and honeylocust
    • Lace Bugs on Sycamore, Pyracantha and Azalea
  • Pine needle disease treatments are needed by early June, than again in mid to late June.
  • Vigorous, unwanted limbs should be removed or shortened on new trees. Watch for forks in the main trunk and remove the least desirable trunk as soon as it is noticed. (HLA-6415)
  • Remove tree wraps during the summer to avoid potential disease and insect buildup.
  • Softwood cuttings from new growth of many shrubs will root if propagated in a moist, shady spot.
  • Protect trees from lawnmowers and weed eaters by mulching or using protective aerated covers.
  • Shake a leaf over white paper to look for spider mites.  If the tiny specks begin to crawl, mites are present.

Master Gardener School Program: A Big Hit!

Did you know the Tulsa Master Gardeners have eight (8) programs they present to children (kindergarten through 5th grade) in the Tulsa County Schools: Insects and Spiders, Six-Legged Super Heroes, Whirling Wings, Worms to the Wise, Seedy Sideshow, Something to Sprout About, Tree Time, and Soil Detectives.  They have recently closed out another very successful school year.  A total of 31 MG presenters presented these eight programs to 417 classes reaching over 10,000 children in Tulsa County.  What better place to foster a love of nature and gardening than in young children?  As a teacher in Tulsa County who is not familiar with our programs but are interested in learning more about them, you can get a synopsis of each of the eight school programs offered on the Master Gardener website at: tulsamastergardeners.org

 When It Rains, It Pours    


"One day it started raining, and it didn't quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin' rain... and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night." - Forest Gump, 1994.


How do you end a drought?  With one of the wettest months ever seen in the Tulsa area, that's how!  The official total for May, 2015 at Tulsa International Airport will be 14.77 inches, good for the 2nd wettest May on record.  Even more rainfall was recorded in other parts of Tulsa County, with 18.50 inches at the Mesonet site in Bixby.  The spring (March through May) will go down as the 3rd wettest for Tulsa.  Needless to say, the good news from all this is that the rain has ended any talk of drought for the time being.


But, as you might suspect, this kind of historic rainfall has come with some very unfortunate side effects.  Of course, there has been considerable flooding around the area...some of it rather destructive.  A number of issues are likely to crop up in landscapes as well (good luck getting out to mow in this weather).  This type of wet, humid weather is great for growing many types of fungus and, to top that off, spraying becomes extremely problematic when rain falls virtually every day. Also, a lot of standing water has been left behind, which we all know is a prolific breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insect pests.  Finally, soils have become so saturated that plants may be having difficulty taking up oxygen in their root systems. 


We needed the rain for sure, but not this much all at once!

So, what just happened?  It's tough to say for sure, but a couple of factors could be involved.  First, water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, our biggest source of moisture, were considerably warmer than average to start the spring.  This may have contributed to excessive amounts of atmospheric moisture that were often present over the southern plains this Spring. Another potential factor in the pattern may be the ongoing El Niņo, which can lead to a more active jet stream over the southern states, at least during the cool season.  These ideas are somewhat speculative, so perhaps we should just chalk this up to Oklahoma's often extreme, but rarely dull, weather.


As we move into summer, it appears we are going to have a stretch of dry weather to start June. Hopefully, this gives us all a chance to recover from the recent deluge...and doesn't last TOO long!

Watch for Designer Bags (Bagworms)

June is the month to scout out and remove those pesky bagworms that appear on our evergreens.  Look for small (~1/4 inch) cocoons decorated with organic material from the host tree.  These bags protect the caterpillar or larvae, pupae, female adults and eggs throughout the year.  The designer bags almost look like they have ornaments attached with silk-like threads.  A happy home to lady bag worms! 


The first evidence of an infestation appears in late May or June in Oklahoma on our arborvitae, juniper, pine, spruce and red cedars.  A heavy infestation can defoliate and kill small plants.  Breaking the annual cycle is critical for the health of our evergreens. Once a plant is infected, the bagworm becomes a persistent problem unless controlled.


Life Cycle

Although the small bags appear in June, the life cycle begins the previous fall when eggs are laid and overwintered within bags of one-year-old females.  The eggs hatch in April and the young larvae begin to feed and construct their personal summer palaces, which they carry on their backs.   


Bagworm caterpillars feed for about 6 weeks, enlarging the bag as they grow and withdrawing into it when disturbed.  When the larvae are mature, they fasten the bag to a plant stem or branch with a silk-like thread.  Pupation occurs in the bag in late summer and, in fall, the males emerge and start their search for wingless females who are immobilized in their bags.  After mating, the females lay hundreds of white eggs.  The female then evacuates the bag and dies.  The eggs remain in the bag until they hatch the following June. Fortunately, these bag decorators only produce one generation per year.


The adult males are small, clear winged moths with a black hairy body and a wingspan of about one inch. Adult females are wingless, have no functional legs, eyes or antennae and are similar to maggots in appearance.  The ladies stay in their bags while the males can fly.


Bagworms are found in most states east of the Rocky Mountains and are common to all areas of Oklahoma.  Occasionally, bagworms are found on bald cypress, maple, box elder, sycamore, willow, black locust, and oaks.   Fortunately, activity by natural enemies such as wasps, birds and predatory insects help curb bagworm populations and explain the fluctuation from year to year.



Small infestations can be reduced by handpicking the bags anytime of the year.  Just be sure to burn or destroy the bags and their viable eggs. 


Chemical controls are a more complete approach and effective if applied when larva are small in June in Oklahoma.   Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) kurstaki is a bacterial insecticide reported to provide good control of bagworms.  Also effective are products that contain the active ingredient spinosad, another microbial agent.   Be sure to read the label and follow the instructions on any kind of pesticide.


Insecticides must be ingested by the caterpillars or larvae to achieve kill, so be patient as it will take some time to see results.  Repeat application two weeks following initial application may be needed because not all eggs hatch at the same time or there may be migration (wind dispersal of small larvae during June) from other host trees. 


So remember - after selecting your new spring sun hat and gardening duds, search for those designer bags on your evergreens.  Good luck and happy hunting!


Common Tomato Problems

Most gardeners will have their tomatoes planted at this time and, because of the very high  amounts of rain, may be suffering with some tomato problems.  Our much needed rain also brought about cooler temperatures as well as reduced sunlight.  The reduced temperatures along with less sun-light will significantly slow the growth of tomato plants. Also, the plants may develop diseases under these conditions. Both fungal and bacterial diseases may infect and damage leaves, stems and fruit.  These diseases can be spread by splashing rain, water run-off, wind-driven rain or mist. Septoria leaf spot and early blight (fungal diseases) may appear early along with bacterial leaf spot.  Leaf spot may cause defoliation of the plant and, in later production, bacterial fruit-spot on the tomato. There are many other diseases which may appear in the early growing season.  These are difficult to diagnose, even for the experts.  More info can be found on OSU Fact Sheets EPP-7626 and EPP-762which cover both fungal and bacterial diseases.


If you have blossoming plants, you may be faced with having Blossom Drop,  This can be caused when the nighttime temperature drops below 60 degrees.  In May, we had

as low as 40 degree nights. When this occurs, try covering the plants at night to help keep the plant temperature above 60 degrees.  Also, if the daytime temperature rises above 92 degrees, blossom drop can occur.  It is good to also avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization of the tomatoes.  More info can be found on our OSU Fact Sheets HLA-6012 and EPP-7627.  


It gets even better...there is likely to be an increase in insect damage due to the very damp and humid weather that will be come about on sunny days following rains.  The corn ear worm and the tomato fruit worm are the more prevalent insects in Oklahoma.  Simple visual inspection of the plants is the best way to identify the type of insect that is on your plants, which then leads to the type of control that can be used to eliminate the problem.  Other pests can also be identified in our Fact Sheet  EPP-7313 and HLA-6013


In more mature plants other diseases can be caused by fungi, which are called wilts and blights.  One major Oklahoma problem is a fusarium wilt.  Early symptoms are yellowing of the lower leaves.  The disease progresses up the plant stem, killing all the foliage and the plant dies.  There are several other fungi that attack tomatoes, which again are listed in our Fact Sheet EPP-7625.  


Finally, there are non-infectious diseases such as blossom-end Rot.  The fruit is affected when about half grown and is identified by a spot that starts and grows on the blossom-end of the fruit.  As it matures, it grows and sinks into the fruit causing a dark, leathery look.


OSU Fact Sheets are available at the OSU Extension Center Tulsa Office (4116 East 15th) and also on our Tulsa Master Gardener website.


No Garden is Complete Without a Hummer


Hummingbirds, also affectionately called "hummers", are the smallest of all warm-blooded creatures on the earth.  But, don't let their size fool you.  Hummers are tough, fast, and feisty little beings!  And they are gorgeous stunt flyers.  A hummingbird's only natural habitat is in the Americas.  It's no wonder that Spanish explorers called them "flying jewels".   


Hummers are fabulous pollinators that you will definitely want to attract to your garden or yard.  What does the hummer need in your yard to make it "hummer heaven?  Just food, water, shelter, and a little shade.


Look out for the 3 species found in Oklahoma.  The Ruby-Throated and the Black-Chinned hummers nest in Oklahoma and are found here during the summer.  The Rufous hummingbird does not nest in Oklahoma, but migrates through the state during the spring and fall on their way to other destinations.


Because hummers satisfy their protein needs by eating insects such as gnats, spiders, mosquitoes, aphids, caterpillars, and insect eggs, the use of pesticides is discouraged.  Pesticides kill their food source and can harm them as well.  We all know that hummers love flowers for nectar.  They rely on their peepers to locate flowers, so plants having red, orange, pink, yellow, or purple flowers will get their attention.  Here are a few plants that will attract hummingbirds in our area:

Coral Honeysuckle

Trumpet Creeper

Flame Azalea

Autumn Salvia

Pineapple Sage

Scarlet Sage

Texas Red Sage

Indian Paintbrush


Red Morning Glory

Cypress Vine

Cardinal Flower

Red Bee Balm

Missouri Verbena

Crimson Columbine

Red-hot Poker                        

Coral Bells

Tall Garden Phlox

Prairie Phlox                                         



Water for drinking, cooling off and bathing is essential.  You can use misters, birdbaths, or fountains.  Hummers will love you if you provide a nectar feeder with a simple sugar water solution, 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Caution:  Please avoid using honey or red dye which is harmful to hummers.  Hummers aggressively protect feeding territory against all intruders, including other hummers.  When you have five or less hummers competing for the same feeder, additional feeders scattered in the yard 25 feet or more apart will encourage hummers to establish individual territories in your yard.  When you have more than five hummers battling each other over the feeder, installing several hummingbird feeders in the yard separated by only a few feet encourages several hummers to feed at one time.  A hummer can escape to another feeder when chased off by a fellow hummer.  It is important to keep hummingbird feeders cleaned out every a few days to avoid harmful bacteria build up.  There are a lot tricks to prevent ants, bats, squirrels and other feeder invaders from taking over the feeder...a little internet googling will give you lots of information.


Hummers have a way to make it through the night without eating, which is called "torpor".  Their body uses this same hibernation technique as they do for very cold weather, whereby their body temperature falls by 50 degrees and their heart rate drops from the normal 500 beats/minute to less than 50.  They can appear dead when in this state.  But as the morning approaches, they return to normal and are ready for a new day.


Hummers have a very adorable chirp, instead of the normal singing voice other birds have.  The following website allows you to hear the different chirps they use to communicate.  http://www.worldofhummingbirds.com/sounds.php 


Just so you know, it is illegal in the United States to hold a hummingbird, nest, baby or any part of a hummingbird, nest or egg, in any type of captivity in any way. Unless you have a valid permit, you cannot trap, band, hold, harass, or control any hummingbird or any part of the hummingbird, nest or egg.  Fines range from $15,000 - $200,000.   http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/migtrea.html


Please check out the OSU Extension Fact Sheet HLA-6435 for valuable information on the habitats you can create to attract your very own hummers.  They will remember your plants and feeders and will visit you every summer! 


Other interesting websites on amazing hummingbirds:






Composting: It Just Makes $ense


What is fun, inexpensive and a good way to learn something useful along side your kids or grandkids?   Composting! 


What is compost?  It is a dark brown, humus rich material that is produced through the decomposition of organic material like grass clippings, leaves, vegetable scraps, twigs, straw or other types of vegetation.  It not only adds important nutrients, enzymes and microorganisms to your soil, but also improves soil structure by making heavy soil (clay) more crumbly and friable.  It will improve light soil (sand) by holding soil particles together and increasing the sandy soil's moisture holding capacity.


Why compost?  It makes sense and saves cents!  Instead of going to the garden center and purchasing bags of compost, why not make it yourself?  It's easy to do - 'stuff' just decomposes.  This will not only save you money, but you will also be helping your community by decreasing the amount of refuse that needs to be picked up, hauled to a landfill, and dumped.  Compost provides nitrogen and other nutrients your plants need.  It also helps to release nutrients that are bound up in the soil by turning the nutrients into water soluble compounds that can be easily absorbed through the roots, reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.


How do I get started?  Some keys to successful composting are:

  • Proper moisture is important to keep the microorganisms active.  Over watering will exclude oxygen necessary for decomposition and under watering slows down the decomposition process.
  • Aeration helps provide oxygen that the microorganisms require to break down organic debris.  Regular turning of the compost will insure proper aeration and speed up the decomposition process.
  • Bacteria found in the soil and plant material to be composted are the primary microorganisms that break down the organic matter.
  • At least a 3' x 3' pile is necessary to create enough volume to create heat and maintain adequate temperature for the pile to decompose efficiently.  A pile larger than 5' x 5' is difficult to aerate properly.
  • Smaller particle size increases the surface area for microorganisms to work on.  Efficiency is improved when material is chopped or shredded to reduce particle size.
  • The carbon to nitrogen ratio should be kept to about 25-30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. This ratio can be achieved by using equal parts of green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) material.
  • Never add fats, oils, protein scraps, dairy products, human or pet manure, colored newspaper, plastic or ashes to your compost pile.

Your compost pile may be as simple as a pile on the ground to a 3-bin operation to a commercially available composter.  It depends on how much you want to invest, both in both time and in money.  Remember, 'stuff' decomposes.  You can help it along with proper moisture, aeration, bacteria, and carbon to nitrogen ratios.  It just makes $ense! 


For more information to help you get started, see OSU Fact Sheets: BAE 1744, PSS 2911, L 252, and HLA 6007 at http://osufacts.okstate.edu  


Chickens: Why Have Them?


Crack open a store-bought egg, then crack open an egg from your own backyard.  The egg from the store will feature a thin shell, pale yolk that breaks easily and watery white. The flavor will be bland and the texture slippery.  A backyard bird's egg will boast thick shells, firm whites and an unbelievably bright yolk (often bright orange, representing all the beta carotene inside).  Hens will start laying eggs when they are about 6 months old. They will consistently lay an egg every 1-2 days for several years.  These eggs, especially when the chickens are given kitchen scraps and/or allowed to free range, are more flavorful than anything you'll ever find in the store.


Backyard and free-ranged hens produce eggs that are very nutritious and great tasting, not to mention they are always fresh!  Free-range and backyard hens' eggs are also much healthier than battery hens' eggs.  It can take up to three weeks to get the store bought eggs from the layers to your local store. 


The nutritional value of free-range eggs makes this challenge a worthwhile endeavor for the backyard farmer wanting to produce higher quality eggs for a healthier diet.  Mother Earth News performed an egg study comparing free-range eggs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs.  The findings showed that, compared to store bought eggs, fresh free-range chicken eggs produced:

    * 1/3 less cholesterol
    * 1/4 less saturated fat
    * 2/3 more vitamin A
    * 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
    * 3 times more vitamin E
    * 7 times more beta-carotene

However, the USDA has stated that there is no difference in the nutritional values of store bought eggs verses free range chicken eggs.


The USDA provides the following guidelines for our use:


Grade: Eggs are given grades (AA, A, or B) based on interior quality factors like defects and freshness, and exterior factors reflecting shell attributes.  Grade AA eggs have the thickest whites; Grade A eggs have slightly less thick whites which do not spread easily, making them a preferred choice for frying; Grade B eggs usually have thinner egg whites, making them ideal for cake mixes and omelets.

Size: Eggs vary in size based on their weight.  Extra Large, Large, and Medium are the most common sizes found in stores. The size markings on egg cartons tell the minimum net weight for a dozen eggs.  If you are looking for more protein, you should choose a larger sized egg.

Raising Claims: Many are concerned with the way egg-laying hens are raised.  Here are a couple of quick definitions for some popular claims.  Eggs labeled "cage-free" or "from free-roaming hens" are laid by hens that are allowed to roam in a room or open area, which is typically a barn or poultry house.  "Free-range" or "pasture-fed" eggs are produced by hens raised outdoors or with access to outdoors.  In addition to the feed provided, these hens may also eat wild plants and insects.

Natural: This term simply means that nothing was added to the egg.  All eggs meet this criteria.

Organic: Eggs marked with the USDA's National Organic Program label come from uncaged hens that are free to roam in their houses and have access to the outdoors.  The hens are fed an organic diet of feed produced without conventional pesticides or fertilizers.


Another benefit for having chickens in the back yard is, once you've harvested everything you want from your vegetable garden, your chickens will happily clear the beds, scratching out and eating unwanted weeds, slugs and seeds and fertilizing the soil while they're at it.  If you own an orchard or a few fruit trees, chickens will devour the fallen fruit before it can attract insects.  Chicken manure contains high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which are great for your yard, gardens and flower beds.


If you are of the mind, you may also have the chickens as a meat for the table.  But, for the most part the eggs are the true benefit of having chickens in your back yard along with the fertilizer that is produced.   


Question: I have heard the Greater Peach Tree Borer is active now.  What can you tell me about it?

Answer:   Most people are concerned with protecting the fruit on their peach trees from insects but they need to be diligently protecting their trees first.


The greater peach tree borer is a clear winged moth that lays eggs on the trunk of the tree near the soil line. The eggs hatch and the larvae tunnel into the trunk feeding on the cambium and inner bark. On small trees, these larvae can kill the tree.


These borers are common in Oklahoma and can overwinter under the bark or below ground level on peaches, wild plum, cherry and other related plants. When temperatures reach 50 degrees, the larvae become active and pupate. Moths usually emerge in mid-May and continue through early June. Females begin laying eggs almost immediately and can lay 200-600 eggs during her short life. About 9-15 days later, the eggs hatch and the larvae begin feeding on the trunks.


Greater peach tree borer must be controlled each year starting with the year the trees are planted and continuing for the life of the tree. In mid-May, commercial peach growers make an application or drench of Lorsban 4E at the rate of 3 qts per 100 gallons. This drench is applied from the scaffold branches to the soil line, covering the entire trunk. The Lorsban should not be applied to the leaves or fruit. This application protects the trunks for the few weeks that the females are laying eggs.


For homeowners, there are few options that can be purchased that are labeled for peach tree borer. Ortho-Bug-B-Gone & Spectracide as well as others make insecticides for home landscape use. Peach tree and peach tree borer must both be on the label to make it legal to apply for the control of the pest. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on when and how to make the applications properly. 



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