July 2016 / Volume 112  

In This Issue

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

86 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

1.30 inches

(Average: 4.72 inches)



2016 YTD Rainfall total: 

15.07 inches

(Average YTD: 21.22 inches)





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

Dale & Barbara Greiner - Broken Arrow 
(Speakers 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.

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. Finally, one other income source that sometimes gets overlooked are personal and corporate donations.  These are so important in helping to meet our financial obligations and are very much appreciated. 

You can make an online contribution by going to the Tulsa Master Gardeners website and donate directly through PayPal. For other information on how you can help support all that the Tulsa Master Gardeners do for their community, contact the Tulsa Master Gardeners Office by calling 918-746-3701.  Thank you! 

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.

July Garden, Lawn, & Landscape Tips

  • Make fall vegetable garden plantings in late July.  Fact Sheet HLA-6009 gives planting recommendation.
  • Harvest fruit from the orchard early in the morning and refrigerate as soon as possible.
  • Check pesticide labels for "stop" spraying recommendations prior to harvest.
  • Continue insect combat and control in the orchard, garden, and landscape. (EPP-7306, EPP-7313, EPP-7319).


  • Brown patch disease of cool-season grasses can be a problem (HLA-6420).
  • Meet water requirements of turfgrasses (HLA-6420).
  • Fertilization of warm-season grasses can continue if water is present for growth (HLA-6420).
  • Vegetative establishment of warm-season grasses should be completed by the end of July to ensure the least risk of winter kill. (HLA-6419)
  • Mowing heights for cool-season turfgrasses should be at 3 inches during hot, dry summer months.  Gradually raise mowing height of bermudagrass lawns from 1 to 2 inches.
  • Sharpen or replace mower blades as needed.  Dull mower blades can cause shredded leaf blades, which are an invitation to disease and allow more stress on the grass.

  • Control bermudagrass around trees and shrubs with products containing sethoxydim, fusilade or glyphosate herbicides. Follow directions closely to avoid harming desirable plants.
  • Divide and replant crowded Hybrid iris (Bearded Iris) after flowering until August.
  • Water plants deeply and early in the morning. Most plants need approximately 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
  • Expect some leaf fall, a normal reaction to drought. Water young plantings well. 
  • The hotter and drier it gets, the larger the spider mite populations!  Control by spraying the infested plant with a mixture of soap and water.  Alternatively, neem oil or a product containing pyrethrum can be used.  Be sure to thoroughly spray the underside of the leaves where the mites prefer to live and chew.
  • Insect identification is important so you don't accidentally get rid of the "Good Guys." (EPP-7307)
  • Providing birdbaths, shelter and food will help turn your landscape into a backyard wildlife habitat.

MG Program: Want to Become A Master Gardener?

If you enjoy gardening, learning about gardening and have an enthusiasm for sharing your knowledge with others, the OSU Tulsa County Master Gardener program may be for you.
The Tulsa Master Gardener program is looking for active adults that enjoy interacting with people, get along well with others, are life-long learners and are ready, willing and able to volunteer their time to enhance the numerous Master Gardener community outreach programs. The 3-month training program for new Master Gardener Volunteers is offered once a 
year beginning in early September and ending by mid-December.

For those interested in 2016 training, two orientation sessions will be held at the Tulsa County OSU Extension Center located at 4116 East 15th Street in Tulsa.  The first one will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 10th; the second one will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17th.  These orientation sessions will cover the Master Gardener program and requirements to enter this year's class.  This includes costs for the classes and agreement for volunteer hour participation after training is completed.

If you are still interested following the orientation, an interview time will be scheduled.  If you are then accepted into the program, the first class will begin in early September and meet each subsequent Wednesday (except Thanksgiving week) until early December.  These classes offer over 70 hours of instruction by highly trained and seasoned OSU faculty and extension horticulturists.  Topics covered include: lawns, ornamental trees and shrubs, annual and perennial flowers, insect and disease management, soils and plant nutrition, vegetable gardening, organic gardening and much more.  These classes provide a good background in horticulture and prepare you to confidently deal with most gardening problems. Learning is ongoing during all of the activities.

No previous horticultural training or education is required to enter the Master Gardener program, as training starts with the basics.  You do have to be able to use a computer and have an e-mail address.  Not only do you learn a lot, but you will make new friends, joining the group of over 375 Tulsa County Master Gardeners.

Come to the orientation and learn about the program as it may be the perfect fit for your volunteer activity.


2016 Home & Garden Expo of Oklahoma

July 29th - 31st
       Expo Square       
Tulsa County Fairgrounds 


Friday, July 29th: 12pm - 8pm

Saturday, July 30th: 10am - 8pm

Sunday, July 31st: 11am - 5pm 

Make plans to attend this three day event at Expo Square. The show has both free admission and free parking.
The OSU Tulsa County Master Gardeners will be there and will have a booth to help with any of your horticultural problems and offer practical solutions.  Master Gardeners will be on hand throughout the show to personally answer your questions. They will have available useful OSU fact sheets with information about the establishment and management of ornamentals, vegetables, lawn grass, trees and shrubs, and much more.
The Master Gardener Speakers bureau will present educational lectures on timely gardening topics.
Join the Master Gardeners along with over 250 exhibitors from our area relating to home improvement/repairs, remodeling, gardening, landscaping, lawn care, home insulation & energy conservation, home security, home furnishings and so much more.
This is the place to get great ideas, establish contacts with professionals and to see and examine a wide variety of products.


Technology for Gardeners: The Mesonet

The Oklahoma Mesonet - How it can help you:

In the early 1980's, Oklahoma scientists recognized a need for a modern statewide weather network. 

At Oklahoma State University, agricultural scientists wanted to upgrade weather instruments at their research sites.  Their goal was to expand the use of weather data in agricultural applications.

Meanwhile, scientists at the University of Oklahoma wanted to expand the success of Tulsa's rain gauge network to every county in Oklahoma.

OSU and OU joined forces in 1987 to achieve both universities' missions through one statewide weather network.  Since the Oklahoma Mesonet was commissioned in 1994, it has enabled the production of millions of decision-making products for government agencies, public safety officials, agriculturalists, students of all ages, researchers, electric utilities, weather forecasters, and private citizens.  It is maintained and operated by scientists and engineers both at OSU and OU.
Now the mesonet network has a station in every county of Oklahoma.  Tulsa County actually has two stations, one located in Bixby and a more recent addition located about 4.2 miles northwest of Tulsa.  These sites can be accessed at mesonet.org.  Find Tulsa County on the Oklahoma map and click on the station you wish.  A complete list of detailed information will pop up which includes items of interest to gardeners and farmers such as:
  • Air temperature and related measurements
  • Moisture measurements and rainfall
  • Soil temperature
  • Relative humidity
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Solar radiation
  • Weather forecast and much more information
All of this data is updated every 5 minutes and can be accessed also with the Mesonet App for your i-Phone or Android phone.

Why is this information important to gardeners?

  1. Enhance garden planning with detailed forecasts and radar
  2. Reduce weather-related risks
  3. Decide when and how long to water your lawn/garden
  4. Cut water waste and save money
  5. Grow healthier plants
  6. Help with control of disease and insect pests
  7. Know when soil temperatures are right for seed germination
  8. Know when frost protection is needed
Discover the help you need at mesonet.org.


Lawn Care Simplified

It sometimes is frustrating to try to understand what to do, when to do it and with what, when it comes to lawn care.  However, armed with a few basic facts, these actions can be simplified.

First of all, we live in a transition zone between where warm-season and cool-season turf grasses perform best, and often our lawns have both types. The recommendations for each type are quite different, so a plan is important.

Warm-season grasses - Bermuda, Zoysia and Buffalo Grass - prefer hot weather and actively grow in summer.  They become dormant (turn brown) in winter.  Any brown grass in winter is one of these.

Cool-season grasses - Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass - are cool season grasses which grow best in spring and fall.  They remain green all winter, but stop growing.  These grasses do not tolerate summer's heat and may die if not irrigated.

The best way to remember when to do what with each type of grass is to remember their best growing periods . . . warm season grasses in summer, cool season ones in spring and fall.
Fertilize warm-season lawns from green-up in April to late August. Apply 2 to 5 pounds of actual nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet, in divided doses, during this time. Zoysia and buffalo grass need about half as much fertilizer.  If they are fertilized after early September, they will be susceptible to winter kill and diseases.

The best time to dethatch, aerate or seed and sod warm-season grasses is at the start of their growing season, allowing the summer to develop a good root system.  Deep healthy roots developed in summer will improve winter tolerance.  Mow warm season grasses at 2 inches and apply 1 inch of water per week.
Tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are often found growing together and benefit from each other.  Fertilize the cold season grasses during their active growing periods.  Apply 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet once or twice in spring and again in September and November. The fall applications are the most important.  Never fertilize fescue in summer as it will make the grass susceptible to heat damage and disease.
Cool-season grasses often need reseeding due to summer heat-stress loss.  Although reseeding may be done in spring, fall is by far the best time to reseed them.  Reseed with either a blend of three or more fescues, or a fescue blend which is mixed with Kentucky bluegrass.

A healthy lawn is the best weed control, but for the lawns susceptible to weeds, pre-emergent herbicides are useful. Pre-emergents are applied in mid-February through mid-March for crabgrass and other summer weed control and applied again in mid-August through mid-September to prevent winter weeds such as henbit.

The OSU Tulsa Master Gardeners have some useful guidelines to help you plan lawn care.  Go to the Master Gardener website, tulsamastergardeners.org, and look under "Lawn & Garden Help", then under "Turfgrass" for both the Bermuda and Fescue Lawn Maintenance Schedule Calendars. You also can also call the Master Gardener helpline 918-746-3701 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 


Proper Watering Techniques

As we go into the very hot summer weather, it can cause a large demand for water in our yards and gardens.  This is why it is so important that proper watering becomes a must in helping to maintain our garden plants and lawns.  Following the guides for proper watering, you will not only save on water, you will also save on your water bills.
Those who have sandy, loose soils will need to water more often and for shorter periods of time than those folks who have a more clay type of soil.  That is because water moves more freely through loose, sandy soil.

The stiffer clay-type soil will hold the water longer than sandy soils.  To determine when and how often to water, you first need to find out what type of soil you have.  You can do this by digging up several handfuls to see if it is hard and sticky and can be rolled in to a ball.  If so, you have clay-type soil.  On the other hand, if the soil can't be balled up and readily falls from your hands, it is more of a sandy soil.
There are several methods used to determine if you are using proper watering techniques.  Dig down to a depth of about 6 - 7 inches (in the lawn and garden).  If the soil is damp, you should be okay.  Also, look at your lawn and plants for any wilting or yellowing and, if none of this shows, you should be fine. Watering very early in the morning is best.  Try to avoid watering if there is a strong wind blowing, as you will lose much of the moisture to evaporation.   
In many cases, people have over-watered as well as under-watered.  So, how can you tell if you need to make a change?One easy method is to put out in the area of your garden or lawn 5 or 6  small, flat bottom containers (like tuna fish or small bean cans) and then water for about 20 minutes.  Then, measure the depth of water in each can and multiply each one by 3. Then, average those three numbers.  This will tell you how many inches per hour of watering you are doing in that area.  To determine watering needs (In inches per week or month) for your type of lawn and garden plants, there is detailed information available on our Master Gardener web site and on Fact Sheets that are available at our office.  This information includes watering requirements for plants that need sun and those that require shade.

You may also "Ask a Master Gardener"  by phone.
Our web site is  tulsamastergardeners. org  and our address is
4116 East 15th Street (at Gate #6 of the fairgrounds) or call (918)-746-3701 to speak directly with a Master Gardener.


Patio Gardening
Gardens come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  There's everything from perennials mixed with brilliantly colored annuals, xeriscape plantings that provide low maintenance options, as well as a mix of shrubs and dwarf trees.  These all do much in the way of making a garden look welcoming and lived in.  And when it comes to the palate, or space that we plant in, patios are king.

A patio or small space provides an opportunity to take advantage of replicating what we typically see in a large landscape without the maintenance hassles.  And, when you consider that all of your plant material lives and thrives in a container, it becomes even more exciting when you know that you're able to plant practically anywhere and everywhere.

In order to get the most from your patio garden, consider these tips in order to get started or to continue with your patio garden space.

Tips for Patio Gardening

1. Use large pots for plants that mature into huge plants and/or flowers.  For example, tropicals like elephant ears, yuccas and ornamental grasses - the bigger the plant, the larger the pot. It's also important to realize that the longer it takes for the plant to mature, the larger the pot that you will need.

2. When planting a fruiting plant (i.e. peppers and tomatoes), use more soil.  Fruiting plants are great options for container and patio gardens.

3. Make certain not to overcrowd your plants.  Go ahead and use a variety in your planter.  However, when you crowd them, they tend to grow spindly.  So, don't over crowd.  You can put one tomato plant in a large plant and have more fruit than planting three or more in the same size pot and having leggy, spindly plants that don't produce as much fruit.

4. Our Oklahoma summers can be brutal and most pots get thirsty.  Terra cotta pots dry out quickly and you may find that you're watering early morning AND early evening.  Try to keep your pots evenlymoist and don't let them dry out between waterings.

5. Some pots may not have drainage holes.  So, you'll need to make certain that they do because you don't want water sitting around the roots of your precious plants.  They will essentially suffocate.  Some people prefer to put gravel or Styrofoam at the base of their pots before filling them with soil.  This helps to take up space and lighten the overall pot weight,

6. Your plants need a lot of sun, especially if you want them to bloom profusely.  If your patio lacks lots of sun, try selecting plants that require low sun, like hostas.

7.  If your patio or space gets lots of wind, consider surrounding your garden with a windbreak like a nice lattice that you may want to stain a rich color and place at strategic locations.

8.  It is fine to use a potting mix, but make certain it is rich in compost.  Many nurseries have their own unique blend of potting soil and that works quite well.

So, go ahead and plant in containers and watch your garden grow and enjoy the bounty.  Whether you have a small space, low light or full sun, gardening in small spaces can be quite enjoyable and fun.  

Fall Webworms - They're Early!
You will likely have noticed an early outbreak of fall webworms by traveling around our area and other surrounding areas.  While these insects can be seen in early summer in Oklahoma, it is surprising to see the sheer number and size of their webs in late June.  In typical years, fall webworms aren't really noticed until late summer or early fall (hence, their common name).  The fall webworm outbreak of 2015, coupled with mild winter temperatures and a wet spring, are likely the cause of these caterpillars emerging early and in such large numbers.   They are even being found feeding on redbuds, which can serve as a viable host in addition to their preferred hosts, pecan and persimmon.  Given the early, heavy pressure so far this year, 2016 could rival last year's record outbreak of fall webworms in Oklahoma.

For much more information on identification, their life cycle, the damage they can cause, and how best to manage them, simply click on OSU Extension Pest e-Alerts to read the entire article.

Spiders & Snakes

         fiddleback spider
            {Black Widow Spider}      {Brown Recluse Spider}

"Creepy, crawly, loathsome, venomous . . . the only good snake is a dead snake . . . folklore, ignorance, superstition, bizarre". All of these words are in the OSU fact sheet on spiders and a book "Reptiles and Amphibians".  Personally, many of us would agree that "good" and "snake" are mutually exclusive terms, but it behooves us all to better understand spiders and snakes and, certainly, to be able to distinguish the venomous from the harmless.
Some Background Info on Snakes

In Northeastern Oklahoma it is not uncommon to come across copperheads, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes.  Rather than attempt to cover all snakes, it would be better to give you the information necessary to identify the poisonous spiders and snakes you might encounter in Oklahoma.  There are 91 snakes and many subspecies, but only a few are dangerous and should be avoided.  Written snake descriptions are extremely vague and pictures of snakes should be consulted.
First, a few words of caution.  If you are bitten by a venomous snake, get to the nearest hospital or clinic as quickly as possible.  If possible, either call or have a companion call ahead that you are coming.  This will give the physician time to prepare and will be very helpful if the snake has been identified.  Remain calm and remember, with proper care, the chance of a fatality is virtually zero.  The old, oft-repeated first-aid of cutting an "X" on the bite and applying suction has been largely abandoned.  Also, tourniquets are no longer recommended, for those applied too tightly can cause additional problems.  The universally accepted snakebite treatment is the use of anti-venom or snakebite serum.  Not all hospitals inventory snakebite serum, but most can obtain it quickly.  Only one device is recommended for snakebites - the Sawyer Extractor (Sawyer Products, Long Beach, Calif.).  It is a small, lightweight kit that may extract some of the snake's venom.  Its use will also permit you to feel you are doing something to help. The time-honored practice of killing the snake involved and taking it with you to the hospital has merit, but with caution.  The reflex action may last much longer than expected.  Dead snakes have bitten people and even a severed head has been known to bite.
Snake venom is a liquid, yellowish in color, secreted by glands on the side of the snakes head and injected into a victim by grooved hollow fangs.  Following medical procedures, a doctor can determine whether a "dry bite" occurred - one in which no venom was actually injected.  Smaller snakes often have a more concentrated venom and, therefore, are more dangerous.
Snakes prefer tall growth plants and grasses, so a mowed lawn or short-growing ground cover is not attractive to them.  Also, weeds and piles of stones provide good hiding places for snakes.
Copperheads and Cottonmouths

These are the venomous "moccasins" - Copperheads are the "highland moccasins" and Cottonmouths are the "water moccasins".  Mice are the principal food of Copperheads, but they also eat small birds, lizards, small snakes, and insects (especially locusts).  Cottonmouths eat all of these, but their mainstay are fish.  Northeastern Oklahoma is territory of both Broad-banded and Osage Copperheads.  These two snakes are generally in the 24 to 36 inch range and their copper color gives them their name.  They tend to live along rocky, wooded hillsides, brushy areas along creeks and near abandoned farm buildings.  Northeastern Oklahoma area is also home to the Western Cottonmouth which grows in the 30 to 42 inch range with a record 62-inch snake captured.  Many specimens are plain black or dark brown with little pattern.  The habit of holding its mouth open when in danger has earned it the name of Cottonmouth or "trapjaw"

Of course, this snake's tail equipped with a rattle is its hallmark.  Northeastern Oklahoma can be home to the Western Pigmy Rattlesnake, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake and IS home to the Timber Rattlesnake.  Timber Rattlesnakes grow in the range of 36 to 60 inches.  That's FIVE FEET!!  Most have crossbanded patterns of pale grey/tan to dark brown, although completely black specimens are not unusual.  They all have rattles, but smaller snakes' rattles are usually very quiet.
Some Background Info on Spiders

Many believe all spiders are venomous and to be avoided at all costs.  In reality, most spiders do not bite humans and, with few exceptions, spider venoms are not harmful to humans or other mammals.  They are important predators that keep insect populations under control.  This benefit far outweighs the risk of an occasional human bite. 
Fatalities from spider bites are extremely rare and the consequences of a spider bite may range from trivial to severe.  This range of reactions to spider venom is due to several factors including: the amount of venom, the site of the bite, the length of time the fangs are in the skin, and the amount of venom injected.  Also, the reaction of various individuals varies widely due to age of victim and the victim's health and genetic allergies.  In Oklahoma, only two spiders are considered dangerous to people - the black widow and the brown recluse. In actuality, most spider bites are less harmful to a person than a bee sting.
Black Widow Spider

The female is the important one to recognize since her bite can potentially result in serious medical problems.  She is slightly larger than the recluse and is glossy black in color with a reddish hour-glass shaped mark on her underside.  She rarely leaves her web and is frequently found under eaves, around dumps or trash piles, under boxes, etc.  The black widow is the most venomous spider native to North America.  The bite is similar to a pin prick but excruciating pain can begin within minutes and spread from the bite to arms, legs, chest, back and abdomen.  Within a few hours chills, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, heavy perspiration, delirium, paralysis, cramping, pains and spasms may occur.  The pain can be so severe that the spider bite is sometimes misdiagnosed as appendicitis, colic or food poisoning. A victim should consult with a medical professional immediately.  Death from a black widow bite results in less than 1% of the cases with the very young or very old at the greatest risk.

Brown Recluse Spider (also known as the Fiddleback spider)

It is a soft bodied, secretive species that is light tan to dark brown in color.  An adult recluse is about a half inch in length with long, delicate legs.  Distinguishing characteristics are six eyes on its forehead, a violin-shaped dark marking immediately behind its eyes and its long legs.  Most active at night while in search of food (mainly insects), it rests during the day in undisturbed places.  It is not aggressive and normally bites only when pressure is applied to it.  People are often bitten when putting on clothing or shoes where a recluse is hiding. 
Most people have little reaction other than redness and a blister. The type of reaction depends on the amount of venom and the degree of sensitivity of the person bitten. The majority of individual's skin reactions will clear within a week.
However, people who have a sensitivity to the venom may have severe destruction of the skin and underlying tissues, called necrosis. The treatment may require skin grafting and several months for recovery. Unfortunately, without a spider in hand when seeking medical care, many of the "bites" are actually caused by other factors. As with snake bites, a victim should consult with medical authorities and the spider captured for identification


Spiders: Brown Recluse, Black Widow, and Other Common Spiders; Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Fact Sheet EPP-7301; Grantham and Wright

CDC and Mayo Clinic

Reptiles and Amphibians;Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998; Conant and Collins


Poison Ivy

"Leaves of three, let it be" 

This easy to remember rhyme may not be the only way to identify poison ivy.  There are other ways to identify poison ivy from related species.  Once this plant is identified, the next step is to get rid of it.  And, if a person is exposed to its sticky oil, there are steps to ease the pain.


Identifying poison ivy can be tricky.  Some varieties grow as bushes, others as trailing vines, and others as vines that wrap around trees.  Poison oak, also found in Oklahoma, resembles poison ivy, but is not nearly as common.  Like poison ivy, it also carries poisonous oil.  A relative, poison sumac, is not found in  Oklahoma.  Virginia creeper grows like a poison ivy plant but has leaves of five.

Pretty to look at, poison ivy is a perennial with reddish stems, bright leaves in the fall, and produces yellowish white flowers in the spring.  It bears amber colored berries.  It loses its leaves in the winter. The trailing ivy has hairy roots that reach out and climb around trees.  Poison ivy vines wrap around trees in a vertical way.  If a vine wraps around a tree horizontally, it is not poison ivy.

Poison ivy has an alternate leaf arrangement, with ovate leaves and serrated (zig zag) patterns at the end of each leaf.  Poison Ivy thrives in shade and part shade.  It likes dry to moist areas and thrives in woodlands and streambeds. 


If poison ivy is found in the homeowner's yard, the best way to completely eradicate it is to kill it.  Using a shovel, dig at least 8 inches under the plant, lift it with roots attached and immediately put it in a black trash bag.  Tie it and haul it out to the trash.  Using this method, be sure to completely cover yourself from head to toe, including face, to avoid exposure to the ivy's noxious oil.  Wear long sleeves, long pants, long socks, long gloves, and tennis shoes.  Tape the end of pants legs and tape the gloves to end of sleeves.  Put the clothes in a hot wash immediately after finishing.

Another alternative to killing poison ivy is to use a systemic herbicide.  Shake, aim at the plant roots, and spray liberally. Read directions carefully before starting. Do not burn the poison ivy!

Exposure & Treatment

Poison ivy, oak and sumac produce an oil called urushoil.  If the oil comes in direct contact with human skin, it will produce a rash in 85% of the people. The rash is typically a straight line on the skin where the oil brushes against it.  Symptoms include redness, itching, swelling, and blisters.  These symptoms take an average of two weeks to go away.  The best way to treat poison ivy is to completely wash the body with soap and water within 30 minutes of contact.  If this is not possible, make a paste with baking soda and water and put on exposed areas.  If the rash is severe or too uncomfortable, an over-the-counter remedy or a doctor's prescription may be needed to reduce the discomfort. Poison ivy is not contagious from skin blisters or rashes but it can linger on exposed clothes and shoes for some time, so either wash or discard the clothing.  Be careful in doing either. 

If the homeowner is in doubt whether the plant is poison ivy, cut a leaf or branch, carefully drop it into a bag, and take it to the Tulsa Master Gardener's office for identification.


Q & A

Question: Living in Oklahoma, how concerned should I be about contracting the Zika virus?


When considering the impact of the heat and recent rains, especially around urban or suburban areas, the concern mounts for mosquito development and the pathogens they carry.  The biggest concern right now is the impact of the Zika virus in Oklahoma.  The mosquitoes that carry Zika are the Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito. Both of these mosquitoes are considered to be container breeding mosquitoes and will lay their eggs in containers holding water, as well as in tree holes. The Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito tend to feed day or night when a potential host comes near them.  The yellow fever mosquito has been shown to enter and stay within houses, if conditions are proper.  Female mosquitoes from each species prefer to feed on a person's lower extremities.

Much more information on this subject can be found in a comprehensive Pest e-Alert article written by OSU Entomologists by clicking the link:  http://entoplp.okstate.edu/pddl/2016/PA15-24.pdf