October 2015 / Volume 103     

In This Issue

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

70 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

2.53 inches

Rainfall total YTD: 

47.02 inches


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


Ann McKellar (in memory of Thomas Maxwell)


Lee Kutner


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.
October Garden, Lawn, & Landscape 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 2-1/2 inches for fall and winter cutting.
  • Broad-leaf weeds like dandelions can be easily controlled during October (HLA-6601)
  • 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 re-pot root-bound 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.

Tulsa Master Gardener Program of the Month
Community Events

The primary goal of the Community Events Program is to inform the public about what the Tulsa Master Gardeners have to offer, to encourage them to visit the OSU Extension office or call our hot-line (918-746-3701) with any gardening questions they may have.  Our mission is to educate the public on proper plant selection as well as care and better husbandry of their personal landscape.
This committee has a lot of fun talking with people and encouraging the public to seek information through our OSU fact sheets and our web-site.  In order to reach as much of the public as possible, every year we actively partner with many of the local landscape nurseries, have booths at the HBA Home & Garden Show, the Cox Home & Garden Show, the Tulsa State Fair and the Tulsa Garden Center.  This year the Master Gardeners added the Jenks Herb Fair along with Philbrook and the Tulsa Botanic Garden in recognition of National Public Garden day.  This provides an excellent opportunity to promote the Master Gardener organization and all it has to offer to the public.   


8 Great Fall Gardening Tips

  1.  Consider replacing annuals with hardy mums. They provide color for weeks. If properly planted, mums will provide a beautiful backdrop for your landscape. They do require regular deadheading, but they will enhance your landscape for years.
  2. Plant spring bulbs. Daffodils have a great way of announcing spring.  Also, consider tulips, crocus and hyacinths.  Once they arrive at the nursery, shop early to ensure you get the best choice
  3. When the weather begins to cool, it is the ideal time to plant fruit trees such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and figs.  In order to prevent the roots from being pulled by fall and winter winds, stake your tree for one year, then remove the stakes to allow the tree to grow naturally.
  4. Make certain to mark locations where you have perennials. After winter takes the plants back to the ground, you may have a challenge determining where they are when you start your spring cultivating.
  5. Bring in your house plants before you begin heating your home.  This will give the plants time to acclimate and adjust.  Make certain to thoroughly hose them and let them air dry, which will help get rid of pests.  
  6. If you still have unripe tomatoes hanging on the vine and frost is imminent, simply pull the vines out by the roots and hang them upside down.  Make certain their new home is in a cool, dark place and allow them to continue to ripen.
  7. Fall is the best time to seed new grass.  Regular rainfall or watering, coupled with warm days and cool nights, are ideal growing conditions.
  8. Leaves can be an asset to your landscape, adding nutrients to the soil as well as making good mulch or additions to your compost pile.  Also, simply mowing the leaves into the lawn is both safe for the turfgrass and adds nutrients to the lawn.  Leaves are best shredded with a lawnmower before adding them to the compost pile or using as mulch. If shredded, they decay faster and will not "matt-up and collect moisture.  Invest in a great rake that is designed to keep leaves from sticking.  When raking, avoid strain on your back by moving your feet rather than bending repeatedly from one spot.

Fall Webworms: Follow-Up Article
For you active readers, you will recall that Oklahoma Fall Webworms were covered in last month's edition.  However, because they are particularly bad this year, thoughts were that a brief follow-up article might be of benefit.  For full coverage of this issue, please refer to the September article in addition to this one.

The "Fall Web Worm" is one of the tree pests found  in a large number of states in the USA.   They may be confused with the Eastern Tent Caterpillars, which are seen in Oklahoma during the late spring and early summer months.  The Tent Caterpillars nest or web is built in the forks of the branches, closer to the trunk.   The Fall Web Worms nest or web is found out on the tips of the limbs, away from the trunk.
In Northeast Oklahoma, the nests of the Fall Web Worm begin in July and continue through October.   There are basically three options to counter attack the infestation:
1. Do nothing.  The webs are unsightly but, in large trees, there isn't much harm.  However, in the case of pecan trees, pecan production may be affected. 
2. Physically remove the worms and nests on small trees or the lower branches of large trees.
3. Use a pesticide spray.  When using the spray be sure to follow the label's instructions and make sure you penetrate the web with the spray.  The use of a biological  insecticide, such a Bacillus Thuringiensis, or Bt, is recommended.  For trees of 30 feet or larger, you will probably need to seek a professional. 
Very heavy infestation or complete coverage on small, newly planted trees may cause the tree to die.  On medium size trees, it may stunt their growth but not kill the tree. 

For more information or questions, please contact a Master Gardener at the OSU Extension Office at 918-746-3701.

Fall Army Worms
An infestation alert was recently issued for our area concerning the Fall Army Worm.  The adult moth is blown in or flies in from the coastal areas and lays their eggs in the early spring.  The larvae hatch in 5-10 days and mature in 10-20 days.  Three or more generations are produced each year.  It is the September group that produces the large and damaging number of larvae (worms).  This large number is why they are called "Army" worms.
September and October are the times when you may see problems in your lawn's grass as the worms have reached adulthood and each can eat a significant amount of turf grass.  If you have large, brown circular spots in your yard, this could be a warning that Fall Army Worms are present.  Their damage is mainly cosmetic, and permanent damage may only occur due to excessive heat and drought in the affected area.  If having been properly watered over the summer, no real loss of turf grass occurs.  Since the worms just eat the leaves, they do not completely kill the grass - with proper lawn maintenance, the grass will return.
If you do have areas of brown grass, a close inspection should be made to determine if these pests are eating your grass as the best steps for Fall Army Worm prevention starts with a proper inspection.  This inspection can be accomplished by mixing one ounce of liquid detergent with one gallon of water and applying it to one square yard of the infested area(s).  If they are present, the caterpillars (Army Worms) will surface in about ten minutes and can be found within the blades of grass.  If you find 5-10 worms (larvae) per square foot, you should start treatment. 
Treatment with most insecticides is not really recommended because of the danger of killing off many beneficial insects at the same time.  The "beneficial's" help get rid of these and other garden pests, so organic insecticides should be used.  Popular insecticides  include Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) and Spinosad, which are both highly recommended and are very effective.  Always apply insecticides per label instructions.  With proper lawn maintenance, your problem should be solved.  

Save Those Caladiums
Caladiums have become favorite plants of many a gardener.  The variety of sizes and colors make them as dazzling a display as one will ever find!  Because of that, you no longer need to treat them as annuals. 
In some climates, caladiums can be overwintered right in the ground, providing the drainage is good, they are undisturbed and they do not freeze.  Since the average low soil temperature in Oklahoma is 37, this technically should work.  If you decide to do this, mulch them well in case of an unusually cold weather.  A more reliable method is to dig them up and store them for the winter.  This also gives you the opportunity to actually look at the tubers to see how they have fared over the summer.  
Step 1: Carefully dig them up.  Use a shovel or garden fork.  This should be done when the leaves begin to turn yellow, but before all the foliage is gone, so you can find the tubers more easily.  Leaving the foliage attached, shake off the soil and lay them in a dry location.  You can put them in a large container, but do not crowd them. 
Step 2: Let them dry.  This can take up to two weeks, and you will know they are ready when the foliage, which will look tan and papery, easily separates from the tuber.  At this point, any adhering soil can be brushed off the tubers or washed with water.  If you use water, be sure to air dry them for a few days before storage.  Also during this process, check the quality of the bulb.  It should be as large as when you planted it.  It should also feel solid to the touch.  Discard any that feel rotten or that have shriveled up. 
When you look at the tuber, you will see a large central bud on the top.  If you would like more leaves, though slightly smaller ones, you can use a sharp knife to remove that central bud.  If you prefer fewer but bigger leaves, leave it intact.
Step 3: Put them in storage when they are dry.  They can be placed in old stockings, mesh bags (onion bags are good), paper bags or cardboard (not plastic) boxes.  They must have breathing capacity.  They should be separated by cultivar and/or color and labeled.  Then, place them where the temperature will remain above 70 degrees.
Now all you have to do is wait for the ground to reach 65 degrees next spring and put them back into the ground for another eye popping display!


Cool Season Annuals
As the leaves begin falling and our summer flowers start to fade away, many gardeners put their garden to bed for the winter months.  The idea of months without flowers seems a waste, especially when we can have an outstanding display of color from cool season annuals all winter long.  So, instead of ending your gardening for the year, begin your winter gardening with a planting of some of these.

Pansies (Viola x Wittrockiana) seem to be the most popular of the cool season flowers, probably because of their low maintenance status and the wide range of colors available.  They come in blue, red, yellow, white, orange, pink and purple.  Some have solid colors without faces, some are bi-colors with contrasting faces, and some are blended colors giving you a mix of colors in each bloom.  Intense breeding has developed flowers that can get as large as 4-1/2" across on lovely green foliage.  It is hard to believe that these large brightly colored flowers are descendants of the quiet, diminutive woodland violets.  The following suggestions also apply to pansy "cousins" such as Panolas (a hybrid cross of pansy and viola), Violas (Viola cornuta) and Johnny-jump-ups (Viola tricolor).

Flowers:  The flowers have a velvety texture and bloom over a long period of time.  They also last quite well as a small bouquet indoors.  To keep the plants blooming, be sure to dead-head (that is, remove spent flowers as they decline).  Pansies thrive in cool weather and will bloom for you from now until hot weather causes them to decline next summer.  Plant them in a well-drained location with moderately rich soil.  They will grow in full sun or partial shade.  Those in full sun will fade away sooner in the summer, but by then you have plenty of other plants with which to replace them.

Planting Times: People who move here from further north are usually amazed to see pansies being planted late in the fall season.  Cooler climates plant them for an early spring bedding plant.  But. we're fortunate to have them for a longer season.  Even when the weather does get extremely cold for us, they will freeze solid, thaw out when the sunlight hits them and continue to bloom all winter.  When so much of the garden is dormant and somewhat homely, pansies give a much needed shot in the arm of cheerful color.  Pansies can be planted from late September through October.  When planting late in the season, be sure to choose strong healthy plants with blooms or, at least buds, on them.  If you plant young small plants during a late planting, you may have to wait until spring for good flowers.  Pansies are usually ineffective after mid-May, and tend to get leggy with warm nights.

Other Popular Choices

Ornamental Cabbage/Kale - usually best planted in early fall.  They each come in several varieties and colors and look beautiful inter-planted with each other or with other cool season annuals.  A recently seen spectacular bed featured alternating rows of white and purple planted on the diagonal.  These plants are hardy to 15 degrees F.

Dusty Miller  (Centaurea Cineraria) - if you have used this as a summer bedding plant, mulch it well and it may overwinter as it is hardy to 0 degrees F.  It can be planted as a winter annual with pansies or again in spring with warm weather plants.  It works nicely as an edging or as a background plant.  It is actually classified as a half-hardy perennial.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum Majus) - can be either an early spring or a winter annual.  It won't survive our hot summers and still bloom.  Dwarf varieties are good for edging whereas taller types are excellent for cutting.

Alyssum - plant now for best success so that roots have time to get established before the first frost.

Dianthus (D. chinensis) - "Snowfire" is a good variety that is white with red centers.  It can be planted in fall or in spring.  Cut the tops back in summer for good fall bloom.

Annual seeds - ones which can be sowed now for early spring bloom include:
            Larkspur - may be slow to germinate.
            Sweet Pea - needs support to vine on.  Provide afternoon                                 shade.  Blooms have delightful fragrance.
            Sweet William - Many flowers the first year.  Some                                         varieties are biennial.  May self-seed.
 Additional Resources:
            HLA-6435 - Landscaping and Gardening for Birds
(OSU Fact Sheet)
            G6629 - Flowering Annuals: Characteristics and Culture
(University of Arkansas Extension)
     pdf.  Warm Season Annuals/Cool Season Annuals
(University of Arkansas Extension)


Perennial TLC
Fall Care:  Cut back most perennials to about 3 to 6 inches above the ground.  Any closer may damage the crowns.  If the growing season has been dry, water deeply in fall before the ground freezes.  You can wait to cut them back in the spring, but it is much easier to mulch with them cut off.  Remove and dispose of diseased or insect-infested foliage (but, do not compost!).  You will need to pull weeds to prevent them from getting a head start in the spring.  Now is the time to create new flowerbeds so that you can start planting the first thing in the spring.  Also, collect and save all your seeds to plant next year.

Winter Mulching:  Many perennials benefit from a protective layer of much to help then overwinter.  It serves as a dual purpose.  It keeps in winter moisture and acts as winter insulation.  Wait until after a couple of frosts before you mulch.  If you mulch too soon, warmth will hold in the soil.  You want the dormancy to begin and growth not to start.  Even though many plants appreciate protective winter mulch, there are some perennials that do better without additional winter mulch.  These plants are intolerant of being too wet throughout the winter and risk root rot or losing their centers.  On the flip side, some of our perennials are very tender and require extra winter mulch . . . five inches or more for adequate protection. 
Winter Watering:  Remember to provide winter water to all of your perennials during dry spells when the top portion of ground has thawed and can accept water.  Water every 4- 6 weeks during these dry periods where there is no snow cover.  Keep in mind that your perennials will wake up at different times in the spring, so don't give up hope if you don't see signs of life right away!
Division:  One of the best things about perennials is that they grow bigger and better each year.  But many will start to crowd themselves out if they get too big.  Keep them performing well by digging them out of the ground and splitting them into smaller chunks every 3-4 years.  The best time to divide a plant is when they are dormant . . . either in the early season or in the fall before the ground freezes.
Perennials that prefer no additional mulch through winter:

Aster                                               Black-eyed Susan  
Blanket flower                                 Creeping Phlox
Shasta Daisy                                     Chrysanthemum 
Daylily                                             Delphinium  
Dianthus (Pinks)                                Evening Primrose  
Oenothera                                        Linum
Dictamnus                                        Geranium    
Globe Thistle                                    Grasses/Ornamental grasses
Hens & Chicks                                   Iris    
Lamb's ear                                        Larkspur    
Delphinium                                        Mexican Hat   
Ratibida                                            Pasqueflower   
Pulsatilla                                           Poppy    
Purple Coneflower                              Echinacea  
Pussy-toes                                          Antennaria 
Rockcress                                          Russian Sage  
Perovskia                                           Salvia   
Silvermound                                       Artemesia
Soapwort                                           Saponaria
Snow-in-summer                                 Cerastium 
Spiderwort                                          Spurge   
Stonecrop                                           Sedum 
Sulfur Flower                                      Sunrose   
Tansy                                                 Thrift, Sea Pink 
Thyme                                                Valerian    
Yarrow                                                Peonies
Tender perennials that prefer extra mulch throughout the winter:

Plumbago Ceratostigma
English Daisy                                      
False Mallow
St. John's Wort
PIncushion Flower


Shrubs for Fall / Winter Color
If you stop and plan, Fall can be a riotous time of purple, orange and red colors in your garden. Now is the time to shop for those vivid colors.
Here are a few cultivars to consider.  They have been selected because they tolerate Oklahoma's temperature extremes.  They are void of serious pest problems and often times provide attractive fruit or bark.
 Beautyberry Callicarpa Japonica species

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil and in full sun to part shade.  Best flowering and fruiting is in full sun.  Some tolerance for drought.  Flowers bloom on new wood. Prune as needed in early spring.  Stems may die back to the ground in winter with new growth emerging from the roots in spring.

This is a deciduous shrub that typically grows to 4-5' tall and to 6-8' wide with slender, upright-arching branches whose tips may dip to the ground.  Its best ornamental feature is its showy fall display of purple fruit.  Clusters of small, lavender-pink flowers bloom in the leaf axils along the stems in summer.  Flowers are followed by large clusters of bright, glossy, amethyst-purple fruits which ripen in late summer and put on their best show through October.  Plantingsfoundation; border, mass planting, container or above ground planter, naturalizing.

Quince, Flowering (Chaenomeles species)
Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.  Best flowering occurs in full sun.  Occasional renewal pruning in spring after flowering will improve the bloom for the following year.

This flowering quince variety is a dwarf, deciduous shrub which typically grows to only 1' tall and features a network of interlaced, thorny stems.  Abundant orange-red flowers bloom in early spring before the foliage.  Tiny, rounded leaves emerge after the flowers and are slightly brownish as they open but mature into a glossy dark green.  Small, pleasantly scented, apple-like, greenish yellow fruit (quinces) ripen in the fall and, although quite bitter and unappetizing when fresh, may be used in jellies and preserves.

Harry Lauder's Walkingstick
This walking stick is commonly called Corkscrew Hazelnut or Contorted Filbert.  Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.  Separate male and female flowers grow on the plant. Male flowers appear in spring in showy, 2-3" long, yellowish brown catkins.  Female flowers are insignificant.  Round, double-toothed, light green leaves (2-3" long) typically turn to an undistinguished yellow in the fall.  After leaf drop, the contorted form of the branches becomes quite noticeable and provides winter interest.

Ninebark Purple Diablo
Perfect as a border, screen, hedge or specimen plant, Ninebark will grow 5-10' tall and 6-10' wide and is virtually indestructible. Plants can be rejuvenated by heavy pruning in the early spring. Brown bark exfoliates during the winter adding seasonal beauty. The leaves are 1-3 inches long with 3-5 lobes and a serrated edge. The Diablo has stunning reddish purple foliage.  Ninebark can be planted in full sun and will flower during May and June with clusters of white to slightly pink flowers.

When selecting shrubs for your landscape consider height, width, shape, foliage color, texture and fruiting habits to obtain the right plant for your design.
For a list of over 70 recommended fall and winter shrubs and photos, go to the OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6439.


Q&A:  I have some really itchy bites on me, but I don't think I was around mosquitoes.  What gives?

Answer: The latest pest to invade our outdoor space is a microscopic nuisance known as the oak-leaf itch mite, so named because it lives on the leaves of oak trees and its bite causes an extremely annoying itch.  They've been nicknamed "Sky Chiggers" because their bite leaves a red, swollen bump on the skin similar to chiggers.  But, unlike chiggers which live on the ground, the oak-leaf itch mite falls from the sky onto the unsuspecting passersby.  Scientists have estimated that as many as 370,000 mites may reside on a single mature oak tree.  Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to avoid being bitten short of never venturing outdoors.  Popular insect repellents, including those that contain DEET, don't seem to be very effective.  Steering clear of oak trees will help, as will wearing long sleeves, long pants, and a hat when working outdoors, especially when raking oak leaves.  It is also recommend that you close all windows because the mite is so small it can actually fly through window screens and bite you indoors!  Spraying the tree won't help either, because the mites reside in a protective gall that pesticides can't penetrate.

Since it has been estimated that it takes up to 4 hours from landing on you for the mite to actually "bite", taking a soapy shower within that time frame will eliminate those which haven't yet bitten.  Once bitten, the best treatments for the insanely itchy bites include Benadryl, cortisone, and an ocean of Calamine lotion. Try to avoid scratching the bites, for doing so can lead to secondary bacterial infection.  The good news is that they will disappear after the first had freeze.