January 2017 / Volume 118
January Garden, Lawn and Landscaping Tips


Sterilize pots and garden tools. Use one part household bleach to nine parts water. Soak for about 15 minutes, rise, and let dry.

Try to recycle your cut Christmas tree rather than sending it to the landfill. It may be used as a bird shelter, sunk into a pond for fish habitat, or cut or ground up for mulch or the compost pile.

Another way to recycle your tree, if you are able, is to take it to the City of Tulsa's Green Waste Site. It is located at 2100 North 145th East Ave and is open 7 days a week from 7:30 to 5:00 pm, closing only on city holidays.  The service is free, with proof of Tulsa residency.  At the green waste site you may also obtain all of the free wood-chip mulch you may need.  In addition, there is free firewood on site.  No matter your tree's final destination, be sure to remove all ornaments.       

Obtain the fruit tree spray schedule from the Master Gardener office or web site. Note that each fruit type has a different schedule.


Green winter weeds (i.e. henbit and dandelions) may be controlled in dormant (brown) Bermuda lawns with glyphosate, a herbicide found in Roundup and others. Products containing glyphosate or a post-emergent broad-leaf herbicide can be used on dormant bermudagrass in January or February when temperatures are above 50°F for winter weed control. Note they cannot be used on fescue or zoysia lawns.




If precipitation becomes deficient (1" of snow = ~ 1/10" of water), water lawns, trees, and shrubs, especially broadleaf and narrowleaf evergreens.  Double check moisture levels in protected areas, such as under eaves, or in raised planters.  Watering deeply before predicted hard freezes will reduce the chance of winter damage.

Mulching all plants will conserve water and insulate the soil. 

Fertilize pansies and violas on a mild winter day. Water when the soil is dry. 

If you did not treat young pines for tip borers in November, do so before March.

The dreary weather of January and February is a good time to sit back and design your landscapes for spring. The Oklahoma Proven selections at offer lots of ideas for trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.  

If you have unplanted bulbs from the fall, plant them ASAP. They will bloom less reliably and will have shorter stems, but cannot be saved for the following year.  

Check that gardening tools and equipment are in good repair: sharpen, paint, and repair mowers, edgers, sprayers, and dusters.

Inspect your irrigation system and replace worn or broken parts.  Also, a good time to start the planning process on a new or expanded irrigation system for this year.

Control overwintering insects on deciduous trees or shrubs with dormant oil sprays applied when the temperature is above 40°F in late fall and winter.  Do not use "dormant" oils on evergreens. ( EPP-7306 )

Check on supplies of pesticides.  Secure a copy of current recommendations and post them in a convenient place. Dilution and quantity tables are also useful. 

Winter Care for Perennials, Shrubs and Trees

The best time to consider winter care for perennials, shrubs and trees during the winter months is to prep them during their growing season.  Some plants aren't as hardy as others and require just a bit more attention during the growing season.  It takes just a few steps and some planning to extend the beauty of your garden through the winter months.

Plants continue to perform beyond the summer months and well into winter based on:
  • The extreme sun and wind exposure during the growing months
  • The low temperatures they experience during winter
  • The cold hardiness zone for the plant
  • The plant's overall health

For best results, the cold hardiness zone for the plant should be matched to the plant hardiness zone in which it is being planted.  For Oklahoma, the cold hardiness zone ranges from a "6a" in the North and Northwest part of the state to an "8a" in the Southeast part of the state, as shown below:

  For more specific detailed information, click on Winter Care of Perennials.
Care of Christmas Cactus

Although Christmas Cactus belongs to the cactus family, it should not be cared for the same way as its thorned relatives.  As potted plants, they require a rich. porous soil such as African violet soil mix or 1 part potting soil, 2 parts leaf mold and 1 part perlite.  The potted plant's soil should be kept moist (but not wet) and fertilized weekly at half recommended strength when in bloom.  They should be placed in a cool, bright (but not direct sunlight) location.  Western or Northern exposure in best.  In the summer, put them outside in partial shade so as to ripen the stems.  

To learn about how best to obtain the glorious blooms in December, click on  Care Of Christmas Cactus.
Proper Tree Pruning

Why Prune?  Because proper pruning is essential to the health and beauty of your trees.  Pruning removes broken limbs, dead and or diseased wood and helps to control the shape as well as its over-growth.    
More much more detailed information about Proper Tree Pruning, click on the OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6409.  In particular, see Page 4 for detailed instructions on proper pruning of limbs as illustrated in the picture above.  

Paper copies of the fact sheet are also available at our Master Gardener Office located in the OSU Extension Office at 4116 East 15th Street, Tulsa.

Winter Container Gardening

It is winter and sitting by a roaring fire in a comfortable chair sounds good.  But, to those really avid gardeners, thoughts drift to landscapes and flowers.  Weather permitting, it is actually a good time to p repare for container gardening, both inside and out.  Consider that containers of all sorts hold favorite clippings cut in the fall and brought indoors.  And, s oil for outside pots can be prepared.  Or, consider beautiful Narcissus or Paper Whites, which can be planted for indoor beauty in a glass container with no soil at all.

Additional Information can be found as follows:

Forcing bulbs can be found on the Tulsa Master Gardener web site at the top of the main page under "Lawn and Garden Help", then "Flowers".

Call the OSU Extension Office to speak to a Master Gardener at 918-746-3701.

Enjoy the winter break because backyard gardeners will be busier than ever in the Spring.

Q & A Corner
QUESTION : Do I need to water my landscape in the winter?  If so, how much and when?


The short answer . . .  YES.

All plants need water during the winter so you should irrigate your shrubs if there has been no or little precipitation. They should be watered deeply at least once a month and heavily mulched.   The need for water is especially important in evergreen plants. This includes both needled evergreens, such as pines and junipers, and broad-leaved ones like azaleas, aucuba and some hollies.
Evergreen plants lose water from their leaves, especially during a cold front with low humidity and blowing winds.  During these times, dehydration and "winterkill" may occur if water is not available to the roots.

In addition to regular watering, a thorough watering of evergreens 24 hours before a hard-freeze forecast will greatly reduce the chance of winterkill.

Remember that plants under the eaves of houses do not get rainfall and need irrigation even during a wet season.

Container-grown trees and plants can be a particular problem.  Many trees which are grown in containers and planted in the fall may very well be at risk for dehydration. The problem is that trees are often grown in a soil-less mixture which holds water poorly.  If a recently planted tree's roots do not extend out into the native soil, the tree may dehydrate in the face of inadequate water in the surrounding soil. These container-grown trees should be watered directly at their bases until roots are established.

QUESTION : Is it OK to spread my fireplace ashes over my vegetable garden every winter?


The best answer is "probably not." Ashes from burning various types of wood have a unique chemistry, which might be useful in some situations but are not recommended for vegetable and ornamental gardens or for lawns, with few exceptions.

The problem with ashes is three-fold, two of which are significant:
  • pH
  • Salt
  • Potassium
Click HERE to read about the details:

Also, OSU has a fact sheet "Fireplaces Ashes for Lawn and Garden Use," which offers a good summary of chemical content of various ashes from burning different hardwoods. 


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. 

Donations for this month include:

General Fund

Neil W and Norma J Flory
Teresa J Williams

Denise and Bob Rock

Jeff Jaynes, Director of Restore Hope

Phillippa Chadd, mother of Sheryl Chadd

Please consider making an online contribution HERE. 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! 

Got a Question? Or Maybe a Soil or Plant Sample?
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Our Master Gardeners are on hand to assist you with even the toughest gardening questions. Visit us in person, by phone, via email or online! Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

Address: 4116 E. 15th Street, Gate 6 at the Fairgrounds
Phone: (918) 746-3701

Need More Information?
law n fertilizer
complex leaves
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.

Once you have collected your soil test and gotten the results back, now what? Find out here. 

Show and tell.
Cool Season Lawn Care (Fescue)
12-month maintenance calendar.
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.

A list of recommended trees with descriptions. 

A list of over 60, by size and color.

Visit our demonstration garden on  15th Street, open 7 days a week. 

Current and historical source of rainfall, air temperatures, soil temps and much more. Click on Bixby station.  

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