September 2016 / Volume 114

In This Issue

Weather Stats for Gardeners

Soil Temperature 2" below sod:   

85 degrees 


Rainfall total last 30 days:  

0.55 inches

(Average: 2.90 inches)



2016 YTD Rainfall total: 

19.08 inches

(Average YTD: 27.48 inches)





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

Connie Draeger

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: 

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.

September Garden, Lawn, & Landscape Tips


  • You have all of September to plant cool-season vegetables like spinach, leaf lettuce, mustard and radishes, and until the middle of September to plant rutabagas, Swiss chard, garlic and turnips.

  • Last nitrogen fertilizer application of the year on warm-season grasses should be applied no later than September 15. (HLA-6420)
  • Winter broadleaf weeds like dandelion will begin to emerge in late September, which is also the best time to control them with a 2, 4-D type herbicide.
  • If pre-emergent control of winter-annual weeds (henbit, chickweed, annual bluegrass, etc.) is desired in lawns, the application should be completed by the second week of September. Note: Do not treat areas that will be seeded in the fall.
  • Continue bermudagrass spray program with glyphosate products for areas being converted over to tall fescue this fall.
  • Plan to seed bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass as needed in shady areas in mid to late-September.  Fall is far the best time to establish cool-season lawns (HLA-6419).
  • White grub damage can become visible this month. Apply appropriate soil insecticide if white grubs are a problem (EPP-7306).  Water product into soil.

  • Watch for fall specials at garden centers and nurseries since fall is a great time for planting many ornamentals.
  • Choose spring flowering bulbs as soon as available.
  • Plant cool-season annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller when temperatures begin to cool.
  • Watch for and control any late infestations of tree webworms.
  • Twig girdler insects should be controlled if large numbers of small branches of elms, pecans, or persimmons are uniformly girdled from the tree and fall to the ground.
  • Begin to reduce the amount of light on outside tropical houseplants by placing them under shade trees before bringing them indoors for the winter.


MG Program of the Month
Senior Living Outreach

Senior Living Program is made up of a group of fun and caring Masters Gardeners  who enjoy bringing a little laughter and good times to senior citizens and the disabled.  In 2015, we did programs in thirty-four centers including assisted living, healthcare and adult day care centers in Tulsa and the surrounding area.  A lot of our seniors  are not able to garden as they once did.   As M/Gs,  we take hands on horticulture  theory projects to our seniors such as live terrariums,  paperwhites, floral design and chia pets .   The seniors are able to complete the projects with the help of our M/Gs.  After they finish their project,  they  are given a crocheted doily on which to set the project.  The doilies are made by a very special group of M/Gs known as The Happy Hookers.

In the spring of 2016, we visited sixteen centers.  At this time, we have seventeen centers scheduled for our fall programs.  We take joy to an average 420 seniors per year.  We encourage all M/Gs to join in the fun and fellowship.  You will enjoy meeting our seniors and a BIG smile on the faces. It is always a fun time and very rewarding.  For more information, please contact Bob Boucher, chairman, or Marcia Reed, co-chairman.


Tulsa Master Gardeners at the Tulsa State Fair

Once again, the Tulsa Master Gardeners will have a booth at the Tulsa State Fair.  We will be located on the lower level of the River Spirit Expo Building (formerly the Quick Trip Center).  Look for the large yellow & orange MG sign hanging overhead.  There will be something for everyone: kids zone, live chickens, flower bed gardens, container gardening, keyhole gardening, irrigation display, composting, insect display and much more.  We are excited to continue our strong partnership with the Bartlesville Master Gardeners as well as Sanders Nursery, Groggs Green Barn, and The Garden Trug.  Get advice on all of your gardening questions from the many Master Gardeners that will be on site or and/or from the numerous research-based horticultural fact sheets that will be available.  Pick up either a free Dawn Redwood or Eastern Redbud tree to anchor your landscape as we will be giving away about 400 each day.  Our booth will be open Tuesday through Sunday as follows:
Tuesday - Thursday, October 4 - 6th         11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, October 7 - 8th           10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 9th                                10:00 a.m. -   9:00 p.m.

So, please plan on dropping by our booth to see our new displays. And, we always look forward to helping you solve your gardening questions and problems as well as just chatting.

Effective Control of Ticks, Mosquitoes, Fleas & Chiggers

General Control Measures

  • Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pre-treated clothing. In both cases clothing will retain the repellent for multiple washes.  Repellent used on skin can also be applied on clothing, but for a shorter time and must be reapplied after washing.
  • Apply lotion, liquid, or spray repellent to exposed skin. This is important for use in the garden during early morning hours or late evening. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests the following repellents:
    • DEET: This has been the mainstay of repellents. There are many brands, but the CDC suggests one with at least 20% DEET found in OFF!, Cutter, Sawyer and others brands.
    • PicaridinA more pleasant to use product found in Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus and other.
    • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE): Pure OLE is not recommended, only the preparations formulated as repellents, such as Repel and OFF!  Botanicals have been shown to be effective.
    • IR3535: This is found in Avon Skin So Soft and Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus and SkinSmart


Most people know ticks spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, but there are several less common diseases for which they serve as a vector. It is the blood-sucking behavior of ticks that accounts for their seriousness as disease vectors.  Some ticks are so small they are difficult to detect before they fill with blood. Ticks are not insects.  They belong to the class Arachnida, which includes mites, spiders and scorpions. 
Humans encounter ticks from plants in their backyard or from recreational activities such as backpacking, camping and picnicking in or around wooded areas. Pets also commonly carry ticks which may be a source of human infection.
The least toxic method of tick control on pets starts with a regular inspection of the animal, particularly the ears and between the toes.  Be certain to inspect after the animal returns from a romp outside.  Remove embedded ticks by gently pulling with tweezers but do not twist.  Clean wounds made by ticks with soap and water before applying an antiseptic.  Confine the pet to a specific sleeping area to reduce infestation areas.  In the outdoors, use insect repellent, wear light-colored clothing and tuck your pants into your socks (ticks tend to crawl upwards).  Inspect your own and your children's bodies after an outing to tick-infested areas.   Remove woodpiles and other mouse habitats and move bird feeders away from the house.

Effective Control Measures
  • Make certain to wear long sleeved clothing and ensure that your pants and shirts are tightly wrapped to your ankles, waist, wrist, etc.
  • Check yourself daily (your entire body) and remove attached ticks promptly
  • Shower within 2 hours of being in a tick-infested area



Mosquitoes are among the most serious of insect pests with a direct impact on humans.  They affect the lives of vast numbers of people by spreading malaria, the most common cause of death worldwide.  In the United States, the primary reasons for controlling mosquitoes are to lessen the annoyance caused by their bites and to reduce the transmission of disease such as human and equine viral encephalitis, West Nile Virus and dog heartworm .  

Mosquito control agencies in the US and Canada together spend in excess of $80 million annually to reduce mosquito annoyances.  The general public is estimated to spend in excess of this amount for control.  It is unrealistic to assume all mosquitoes can or should be eliminated from areas where they are a bother.  The cost of environmental degradation in terms of wildlife loss would be too great as mosquitoes are important prey in many bird, reptile, fish and other food chains.
Indirect methods of removing mosquitoes start by eliminating all standing water...even very small amounts such as in plant saucers can be a source of mosquitoes.  Promote good drainage by keeping drains and gutters clear of water and runoff.  You should be alert to tree cavities that collect water. The water in ornamental fountains can be treated with mosquito dunks...circles of material that prevent larvae from living...available at garden centers or online.
Direct, physical controls of removing mosquitoes are screens on windows and doors.  The space between the screen frame and the house should be monitored as well.  If you enjoy sleeping under the stars, purchase mosquito netting and use it to protect yourself.  Also, small ponds can be helped with the stocking of mosquito-eating fish.  Goldfish can be used for this purpose as well and are easier to locate.
Effective Control Measures


  • Ensure adequate protection during times of day when mosquitoes are most active.  Note that mosquitoes which may carry West Nile Virus bite mainly from dusk to dawn.
  • Use common sense and make certain to reapply repellents as protection wanes (typically after 3-4 hours of initial application).
  • When traveling, place nets over your bed when accommodations aren't adequately screened.



The control of fleas include sanitation and insecticides.  Because of the complexity of fleas life cycles in your landscape, inside your home and on pets, more than one insecticide will be needed. See OSU fact sheets VTMD-9121 and EPP-7306 for detailed and specific recommendations.




Chiggers are prevalent in Oklahoma and cause incredible itching.  Chiggers are nothing more than young mites.  Mites belong to the class Arachnida, along with ticks and spiders.  They are very, very small and red in color.
If chiggers are a problem in your yard, you need to eliminate chigger habitat, as widespread use of pesticides is rarely required and not recommended.  Prime chigger habitat includes overgrown lawns, ground covers, leaf litter, weedy areas, etc.  Chiggers tend to cluster in certain areas since the females lay their eggs in one location. 

If you must use pesticides for chiggers, try and treat only the areas where chiggers exist . . . don't treat your entire lawn area.   Chigger control usually requires several treatments of pesticides during the spring season. 

Effective Control Measures

  • Mow your lawn regularly and keep it short.
  • Keep beds weeded and free of leaf litter.
  • Remove any brush piles from your yard.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET and apply permethrin to boots, backpacks, clothing, etc.
  • Wear tightly-woven fabrics.
  • Stay on the trail and avoid chigger-infested areas. Chiggers hang out in high vegetation and will cling to your body when you walk through their territory.
  • If you think you've wandered into a chigger-infested area, get out of the area and wash yourself immediately with hot soapy water.

Awareness is the key.  When you know that you're going to be in areas during certain times of the day that are prone to chiggers, misquotes and/or ticks, come prepared and shield yourself from these tiny predators and allow yourself to enjoy nature and your surroundings.

IPM (Integrated Pest Management)

Home Gardeners are enthusiastic about an environmentally safe way to garden which really brings things back to the basics.  This method is known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).  Oklahoma State University and other research institutions have studied ways to garden without using harmful broad spectrum insecticidal sprays.

Broad spectrum sprays were used in backyard gardens as well as farm crops since shortly after WWII.  The sprays knocked out the natural balance of things killing beneficial insects as well as harmful insects.  After damage was done to lakes, ponds, fish, birds and air, research began in the mid-1990s to slowly change things.

Only 3% of all insects are destructive, but can do a lot of damage. The others are pollinators and those that attack the bad insects. This is the plight of bad insects versus good insects.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) researchers found the best way to manage backyard garden pests naturally was by combining four methods: 
  • Mechanical
  • Cultural
  • Biological
  • Chemical
The first step is to simply observe.  Notice that plant leaves are being eaten or discolored.  Look for insects, then identify them.  To help identify the insects, you can go to the Master Gardener web site, look across the top for "Lawn and Garden Help", click on "Insects", then "Insect Gallery Page" at the bottom.  Colored and labeled pictures of many beneficial and harmful insects are displayed.

Mechanical: If the insect identified is harmful, then first find non-chemical ways to get rid of it. Hand pick as many of these bad insects as possible.  Spray with a high-powered water hose.  Bring in beneficial insects to your gardens by planting flowers to attract them.  Make sure water is available.  Clean plant debris around plants and weed.

Cultural: Rotate crops each year and plant plants a distance from each other.  Plant compatible plants near each other.  For instance, plant cucumbers near tomatoes not squash.  Related plants attract the same insects.  Make sure plants are healthy and disease resistant.

Biological: Next, bring in the good guys. These are a group of insects that are parasites, predators, and pathogens.  Parasites lay eggs on harmful insects such as hornworms.  When the eggs hatch, the larvae crawl inside and eat them.  Several wasps have this behavior.  Examples of predators are ladybugs, lace wings, and pirate bugs.  The adult and larvae stages of these insects devour huge amount of aphids.  This insect-eating insect and destroying method has proven to work well in green houses.

Chemical: Only use Systemic sprays that target specific insects. Spider mites are not insects (they are spiders) and can only be destroyed using spider spray.  Natural products are to be used when possible that are derived from plants, flowers, and/or insects. These products are least destructive to the environment. Examples are Neem oil, insecticidal soap, Pyrethin, Bt, and Spinosad.

Research continues to find safe and environmentally friendly ways to garden.  For further information on IPM, call the Tulsa Master Gardener hotline (918-746-3701) or go by the MG office (4116 East 15th Street, Tulsa) with insect or damaged plant in hand.

Fall Preparation of Flower Beds

Fall is the best time to prepare your flowerbeds for winter, as well as the following spring.  So, between football games, get outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures and fewer bugs!
Suggested activities:
  • Removal of annual and herbaceous plant debris is very important to decrease the chance of disease and insect problems for next spring.  Diseased debris should be discarded (not placed in a compost pile) because temperatures in most compost piles do not get hot enough to kill all pathogens.
  • Begin cutting back your perennials as they decline.  Or, leave a few semi-evergreen perennials for winter interest, but remember they will need to be cut to the ground in the spring.  Cutting perennials back to ground level does not harm the plant because perennials transfer their plant nutrients to the roots in the fall.
  • Keep watering your beds.  Keep your perennials well hydrated to maintain their root systems.  Dig up and store tender perennials (e.g. dahlias, tuber roses) in a cool, dry place.
  • Consider dividing perennials.  Plants that can only be divided in the fall are: astilbe, irises, young peonies, moss pink phlox, sweet woodruff, poppies, Siberian iris, foxtail lilies, and arum.
  • Plants that do not like to be divided are: allysum, candy tuft, delphinium, foxglove, euphorbia, geranium, lavenders, Russian sage, garden sage, baby's breath, butterfly weed, gas plant, false indigo, and mature peonies.
  • Watch for fall specials at garden centers and nurseries since fall is a great time for planting many ornamentals.
  • Choose spring flowering bulbs as soon as they become available.
  • Plant cool-season annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale, snapdragons and dusty miller when temperatures begin to cool.
  • Wait until after the first killing frost to fertilize, mulch and prune shrubs.
To learn more, refer to OSU Fact Sheets:

  •  OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6404
  • Iowa State Extension
  • Illinois Extension
  • Tulsa MG Newsletter (September, 2015)
  • Tulsa MG Tips & Techniques Calendar

Fall Fescue Lawns

Fescue lawns in Northeast Oklahoma (Tulsa) have been hit hard again this summer due to the hot and dry conditions.  Even those yards that have been well watered have suffered.  Just remember that Fescue is a cool season grass and high temperatures are a menace to this plant.  The heat is also responsible for a fungus that may destroy many Fescue yards.  There is not a lot that you can do to solve these two problems but, because of the very dry conditions, you must water Fescue lawns constantly.  Thank goodness for our cooler month of August coupled with the unusual amount of rainfall. 
We are approaching the best time of the year in Northeast Oklahoma for over seeding Fescue yards or putting down Fescue sod.  The ideal dates run from September 15th through October 15th, as recommended by the OSU Extension Service.  It is also the time to take soil samples if you are having other problems that watering and fertilizing have not cured or if you  have not had a soil sample test conducted during the last 2-3 years.  The OSU Extension Service is also recommending that you select a mix of at least three or more Fescue seed mixes rather than just one type of seed to ensure a higher percentage of germination and successful growth.  This can be combined with or without Kentucky Bluegrass.  It is suggested that you do not try to mix them yourself.  There may be some stores that will mix these for you.   The amount of seeds to be applied in over seeding should be listed on the seed bag or box.  These products can be found in most of the nurseries and other garden outlets.
It is also suggested that you obtain your seed supply before your prepare the yard for over seeding.  You then have the instructions on hand as to the best way to over seed.  In preparing your lawn you should first get rid of any weeds and or thatch, loosen the soil by hand or by machine and, if needed, add fertilizer.   Make sure you have an adequate irrigation system so that your seeds do not dry out once they have been sown.  Also, do not apply more seeds over a specified amount of area than recommended.  Too much can be worse than too little.  
For more detailed information:

Composting: It Just Makes $ense

What is fun, inexpensive and a good way to learn something useful alongside your kids or grand kids???


What is compost? It is a dark brown, humus rich material that is produced through the decomposition of organic material such as 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.  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 dollars and 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.   Remember the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!  Compost provides nitrogen and other nutrients that 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, thus 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 that is necessary for decomposition; Under watering slows down the decomposition process. The ideal moisture level is keeping the compost as wet as a damp sponge.
  • Aeration helps provide oxygen that the microorganisms require to break down organic debris.  Regular turning of the compost will insure proper aeration and will speed up the decomposition process.  Whether it be once a week or once a month, it all depends on how quickly you want it to decompose.
  • 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' x 3' pile is necessary to have enough volume to allow the microorganisms to create enough heat and maintain adequate temperature for the pile to decompose efficiently.  A pile larger than 5' x 5' is difficult to aerate properly.  If you have more product than a 3' x 3' x 3' bin, simply build a new pile.
  • Smaller particle size increases the surface area for microorganisms on which to work.  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 stuff (nitrogen bearing) and brown stuff (carbon bearing) material by weight.
  • Never add fats, oils, protein scraps, dairy products, human or pet manure, shiny 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 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:


Extending the Growing Season in Oklahoma

Not quite ready to give up the fresh tastes and smells of the garden?  There are many tricks to lengthen the season, allowing for cool season crops such as lettuce, other greens, and potatoes to be producing in the winter months.  In addition, gardeners can start warm season vegetables and flowers earlier in the spring, and extend the growing time of warm season crops into the fall months.

To extend the season, the environment must be modified to protect plants from extreme cold, heat, winds, winter precipitation and insect pests.  Season extension depends on the gardener's knowledge, availability of supplies and the willingness to invest time into the process.  It involves providing favorable growing conditions on a day-to-day basis and protection of the plants from serious events such as late or early freezes.

While there are many ways to extend the growing season, some of the most popular include greenhouses and row covers.   A greenhouse is usually defined as a building, room or area usually made of glass, in which the temperature is maintained within a desired range and can enable growing throughout the year, depending on heating, cooling and extra lighting used.  In the cooler months plants placed inside this transparent structure will be warmed with sunlight during the daytime hours, protected from wind, precipitation, and temperatures too cold for survival.  During the summer months the greenhouse can become too hot to support healthy plant growth, so using proper watering practices and providing afternoon shade can help keep plants growing strong.  Greenhouses can range in price and size, and may be elaborate or simple.  Structures ranging from small portable types to walk-in, permanent designs can be built from prefabricated kits or scratch.  

Row covers (also known as low tunnels), are another good option for extending the growing season.  Again, like a greenhouse, they protect from wind and precipitation, and decrease the likelihood of insect pests. Clear polyethylene or other sheeting is placed over plants in the garden and supported by wire or plastic hoops.  Vented plastic is also available to help prevent excessively high temperatures.  High tunnels or hoop houses also provide an enhanced growing experience, and vary in structure design and cost.

In addition to protecting the plants from adverse elements, soil temperatures often must also be modified.  Mulching is one way to modify soil temperatures, prevent weeds and help conserve moisture.  Mulches should be tightly installed over a level surface so that little air space is present. Darker mulches and landscape fabric are often used to warm the soil. 
Information provided in this article is from the Master Gardener's Manual, pp. 99 - 101.