Well, the Fourth is over. Time to clean up the firework debris and enjoy some garden time while is still enjoyable outside. Here are a few to-dos to make everything easier.
Cut back spring annuals
A lot of the pretty mixed pots and hanging baskets from spring may be starting to look a little thread bare. Root space is getting tight and there was that one week we forgot to water that one pot. Now is a great time to cut back those spring annuals. Cut out any dead stems and give the leggy stems a good whack. Give the rest a little cut to make it all look symmetrical. Apply a small does of Colorstar Fertilizer, water, and enjoy a lovely beverage on your porch!
Clean/Dust your porch light
While your there, clean your porch lights and other outdoor lighting. We have a month before august hits and renders outdoor living impossible. Spending a few minutes cleaning your lighting will make your outdoor living area more welcoming during the last few cool nights of summer. Not only will lighting highlight your plants in the evening so we can enjoy them, but a well kept yard and adequate lighting are the two most effective things that can be done to prevent crime in our neighborhoods!
Adjust your sprinkler system and watering habits
The past few weeks we have seen some good rain, but that won’t last. It’s a great time to check your sprinkler system, drip hoses, timers and such for proper watering. Place a cake pan in your yard and time your sprinkler to run as long as it takes to fill that up to one inch. That’s how long your system needs to run PER WEEK! We recommend twice a week, so half inch per run. Garden beds need about that much, but once a week is usually enough! Specimen plantings that are not well suited to Oklahoma weather need to be dealt with as needed. Potted plants most likely need to be watered once a day. No matter what it is, morning is the best time to water. Wet plants during warm nights are begging to be attacked by bugs, fungi, and viruses!
Redressing your beds and pots with a thin layer of compost will help retain moisture throughout the day, and replace organic material the plant has utilized during the spring.
Pinch bag worms
Pinch bag worms on evergreens before the infestation gets out of control. Also, spray web worms in trees with a high pressure spray. Once the webs are torn open, the birds will feast! It is very satisfying!
Don't worry about your tomatoes
It has been relatively cool, so tomatoes should still be producing. But as temps climb over the mid 90’s, tomato pollen stops being viable. This can be helped by shaking the plant early in the morning, before it gets too hot. At a certain point, you will have flowers, but not fruit. Don’t worry, keep the plant healthy with compost and water. Once temperatures drop, production will return.
The cold winds are dying down and it's great time to get back out in the garden and do some of the less glamorous tasks while it's still nice outside! So when May hits everything is ready for color installs and all the other fun stuff we look forward to!
Sow Annual and Herb Seeds
Now is the time to get your summer herb and annuals started. Celosia, Moon Flower, Sun Flowers, Zinnias, and Basil, Cilantro(Coriander), and Parsley. Just follow the directions on packets.
If you have older seed and don't know if they are viable, here's a way to check.
1. Moisten a paper towel and lay out flat.
2. Place 5, or so, seeds on the towel with some space between and fold up so the seeds are wrapped up tightly. Place towel package in a zip top bag.
3. Place the bag in warm, but not sunny spot. Leave alone for the number of days to germination listed on the packet or on this chart.
4. Once that time is up, open the bag and package and inspect the seeds. If most of the are plumped or even sprouting, the seeds are safe to plant. If only a couple are sprouting after a couple weeks, don't expect much out of those seeds.
Plant Fruit and Vegetable Plants
So this year has been odd, it's been warm(one day over 90!), and as I right this, at least, one more night in the 40's. The soil temps have been in the 60's: 2 inch temps, 4 inch temps. So it *should* be safe to plant most veggies. Just remember, two years ago we had a frost on May 5th! In any event, by the end of the week we will be bringing in the more cold sensitive plants. There are just a few more days to think about your gardens.
Apples, Pears, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Chiles, Cucumbers, Melons, Herbs, etc
Yes, it's super exciting, but it pays off. Just a couple hours on a Saturday morning will continue to pay dividends all season! The trick is a scuffle or colinear hoe. These are sharp and the blade is oriented parallel to the ground. Just slide or "scuffle" the hoe around the bed and the weeds are cut off at the ground. Yes, some do come back! If you have a decent hoe(over $25), the task will be easy to do once a week. After a while, the weeds will burn through their energy stores and die. If you never till your bed(NEVER TILL YOUR SOIL), you won't activate dormant seed in the soil and you won't have weeds! Follow this advice, and weeding will only end up on your to-do list twice a year!
Fertilize or Compost Your Plants
This is the easy one. Add a does of good slow release fertilizer like Color Star, Nutra Star, or Espoma to all of your potted plants. All their nutrients were used up last year or leached out of the pot over the Winter. Feed them now, when new growth starts, they're hungry!
Add a good couple inches of compost to your garden beds. It is denser, and will block light to seeds and retain moisture better than any wood waste mulch. It also leaches into your soil adding nutrients and organic matter, and helps to break down the clay.
Finally, go explore the local botanical gardens and garden centers. There is always something to look at and get ideas from.
Myriad Gardens 301 W Reno
Will Rogers Park 3400 NW 36th
The OKC Zoo 2101 NE 50th St
The Botanic Garden at OSU 3300 W. 6th, Stillwater
I’m not a big plan ahead person. I’m working on that. Owning a business has really made me stretch my organizational and planning skills. But I’m still not one to plan out the week’s menu and have each ingredient on hand. I’ve learned to have a pantry well-stocked with basic ingredients – flour, sugar, pastas, chicken in the freezer, that kind of thing. I also have dried herbs and spices on hand. But fresh ingredients are trickier. Life gets busy. Peppers get wrinkly, carrots a little too flexible. Invariably, I go to the crisper and the lettuce is not crispy. It’s been in there a few days too long, looking limp and not very appetizing. One of my favorite things about having a small garden is being able to walk out my kitchen door and grab a handful of ingredients, simple things like lettuce or kale or spinach, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, herbs – and voilà, salad!
Having fresh vegetables right outside the door can be as uncomplicated as carrots or peppers in a Smart Pot® or salad greens in an old washtub. Raised beds are so easy to construct, super easy to maintain, and can significantly reduce a family’s grocery bill from spring until late fall. And really, traditional, in-ground gardening can be pretty low-maintenance, too. We’re so excited to be offering organic vegetable transplants from Julia Laughlin of Prairie Earth Gardens this spring. We will still have lots of healthy vegetable and herb transplants from Prairie Wind Nursery and Red Dirt Plants.
If, unlike me, you are a planner, it’s a great time to organize a planting schedule of your favorite vegetables and fruits. Here’s a Garden Planning Guide from OSU Cooperative Extension Service. Here’s another easy to understand planting guide from Robert Stell of Sunrise Acres, long-time, local farmer and vendor at the OSU Farmers Market. And, if your gardening plans are more spur of the moment, just drop by the store and we’ll help you pick out a few things to grow.
These are just a few of the conifers we have, and I hope I have given you an idea for a different kind of arrangement. In containers or in beds, hollies and conifers can create a garden unlike anyone else on your block. So think out side of the annual, perennial, hedge, and succulent boxes and come check out our selection. Below is a link to the web page of the nursery from which we get most of our conifers and evergreens. It has lots of great information as well as pictures of the full grown plants and ideas for arrangements.
Plant nerd since grade school.
It's hot, and there was 81% humidity this morning. Plants that usually do well in Oklahoma's Springs and Summers might not be looking too hot right now. It's hard enough to keep them watered, much less feed with out burning, or pruned with out ruining them. But fear not! It is not as difficult as it may seem! Here's a little primer on how to keep the annuals you worked so hard for in Spring looking good until October/November when you're ready to start planting Pansies and Cabbages.
There are two things that need to be done: remove some of the plant and feed. Removing biomass does two things: 1. eliminates much of the sickly/dead growth and 2.lessens the load of water and nutrients that the roots need to deliver. Feeding also does two things: 1. replaces nutrients the plant has used or lost due to leaching and 2. supplies nutrients for the plant to use in replacing bio mass that has been removed.
Just grab a handful of stems, like you are making a pony tail of plants. Then, take some pruners or scissors, place at a 45 degree angle to the plant pony tail, and start chopping. Edward Scissor Hand Style. No need to be careful (EXCEPT FOR YOUR FINGERS), the point is to remove stem not shape. If you cut at different levels, you will have a natural shape. Go for a shag, not a bowl cut.
This is most necessary in mixed or combo pots where there are many plants competing for resources. But it also becomes necessary in baskets or pots with one plant and with upright or bushy annuals because they can get leggy too. They are a little more work because trimming them willy nilly can make them look hacked to pieces. All it takes is to look for a joint (or node) on a stem where there are leaves emerging.
So, the trimmed plants should look better after trimming, but it will won't look great. At this point, they will need food. So, throw on a handful of compost and a small dose of slow release fertilizer like Colorstar, or organic, like Flower-tone. Then, set a timer on a soaker hose, go on vacation, and when you get back you will have the gorgeous planters you remember from May!
Ah, Summer. The heat index was 105 degrees yesterday, today looks like it will rain enough to make tomorrow miserable, and the weekend doesn't look much better. This means, for those of us that WANT to get out in the gardens, our plants may not be looking all that great. Geraniums are yellowing, petunias are petunia-ing, and Periwinkles are... well, they are probably fine.
But there is a class of plants that is, just now, beginning to look their best! Of course these are the plants that were here before any of us were; native plants! Natives will thrive in any condition Oklahoma can throw at us because they have spent countless ages adapting to our, eh hem, interesting weather patterns. The best part is that most of them start blooming when our spring perennials and annuals are starting to fade.
These are just a few of the natives that are available. Slash Pine, Kentucky Coffee Tree, and Catalpas, Blue Grama Grass, Indian Steel Grass, even a Sugar Maple! So, if your yard or garden usually look a little drab this time of year and you want some color or texture to tide you over until Pansy and Mum time, think about some native plants. The are easy, sustainable, and better than organic because they rarely need ANYTHING applied to them to grow well. In fact, fertilizers and compost can harm or disfigure natives like Rudbeckia, grasses and Cone Flower either by encouraging too much growth so that they flop over or just burn the leaves! They will need regular, deep waterings in their first year, but soon they will need nothing except the occasional pruning or deadheading to keep them looking tidy.
In Victorian England, keeping plants was becoming quite a hobby. The English garden was quite the staple in the countryside, but in London, things were different. There were few gardens and the pollution was so bad few plants could grow and thrive. Couple that with the British Empire having colonies EVERYWHERE, it became quite vogue for Londoners to keep tropicals as house plants. Unfortunately, the air was so bad inside as well, most plants still died. This eventually led to the invention of the Wardian Case. Basically a small enclosed greenhouse. These allowed begonias and orchids to become the popular house plants of the time.
There was also another plant that was popular at the time. Aspidistra elatior, or Cast Iron Plant. Not only did it thrive in the polluted air, it also does well in low light conditions!
In modern times, they still have plenty of uses in our landscapes. As I type this, a customer is asking about plants that grow in deep shade. This is one of the best! They love it dark. If there is a place in your home where plants stretch and die, I highly recommend cast iron plant, indoors or out!
There are a few varieties, and not all are cold hardy here. So make sure and check your tag!
They are pretty adaptable to wet or dry soils and can take a half a day of sun (4-6 hours).
While most plants put their reproductive organs right out on top, so the various pollinators can find them, Cast Iron plants put their flowers the one place bugs always are, the ground! They get pollinated as slugs and beetles crawl over them. Neat, huh?
Following up last week's post about commonly asked questions (last week's was, "Which plants make the best hanging baskets?"), today I will discuss another common question.
-- How long does it bloom? --
Usually the answer is concise, 4-6 weeks, 2-4 weeks, one day(stupid hibiscus), or every ten years. However, with most annuals and some perennials, deadheading will keep the blooms going for longer periods. As a corollary to the question, "How much work do they require to keep them blooming?" Some times, "it depends" is the best answer we have. Or there is this little guy...
One of my favorite plants, Celosia. The one above is Celosia argentea.
I'd also like to mention some other common names they have had. Cock's Comb is a good one. Really, top notch work guys! Others include Plume Flower, Plumed Amaranth, and Flame Flower. The name Celosia is Greek, meaning burning, since the plumes look a bit like flames. My favorite is their original name. Being from East Africa, their Swahili name is Mfungu.
These are this weeks Plant of the Week. So all weekend, Celosias are 25% off! Mention Mfungu, and get 40% off!
-- Alex Wisdom
This is probably the most asked question we receive. This week's post will answer that and tie in with our sale that we are having for Mother's Day weekend! If you pick one of these three, for your self or your momma, you will have a beautiful, low maintenance plant all summer!
I am going to start off by saying that I am leaving off the Portulacas. Purslane, and Rose Moss(Moss Rose) are fantastic plants. They are succulent, which means they have a way of storing water. They bloom like crazy, they are easy as it gets. Come on by and grab some! However, tt would go against our mission statement if I didn't provided something more inspired. Which brings me to the only three plants I plant every year!
By common name, Blue Daze, Million Bells, and Trailing Periwinkle.
I hope this gives you some ideas for your home, or your Mothers. Remember, May 8th! We are having a Mother's Day Sale the 6th, 7th, and 8th, and all hanging baskets are $13.95!
So, the last storm fizzled when it hit OKC, so we decided to bring in a bunch of new plants for today's storm!
In spite of storm threats, we are bringing in some nice plants! Zinnias, Dragon Wing Begonias, Yellow Ice Plant, and many others! When the weather clears, come by and beautify your yard!
Don't forget, Mother's Day in early this year. It is on the 8th! We have plenty of nice plants and decorations for all of our mothers! We will also be receiving plenty of plants and pottery next week. So you have plenty to choose from! We will also help put together a mixed planter, so gifts can have that personal touch!
So, come by and check out all the fun products we have! We also have gift certificates, so your loved ones can check us out themselves!
We'll be making messes and accessorizing all year!
Ok, plant nerds, time to start practicing your Sweet Honey Brown style news interview monologues. NOAA, NWS, and the mesonet are predicting some nasty weather. 90 mph winds, tornados, and "giant" hail. however, there are also a lot of "ifs", and "possibles" in their forecasts. So, we'll have to wait and see.
It would still be a good idea to bring you pots under cover, say your last words to anything planted in the ground, and have your insurance agent on hold!
As you can see, we are all hunkered down for the evening, and we will be closing early. We hope you all stay safe, watch the weather, get out your weather man/storm chaser drinking game of choice, and, of course, "stay weather aware".
The henbit is dying, and making way for some of the more noxious weeds. Crabgrass being the number one offender.
Using something pretty to eliminate something noxious. Which leads me to the real point of the article!
Yes, I hope I shed some light on organic practices, and I do hope to sell a few bags of All Seasons, but I really just wanted to be able to use that comic in some manner of professionalism.
_ Alex Wisdom
Time to plant...
--By Kathy Plant
March is a great time to plant leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, mustard, kohlrabi, and lettuce. Beets, carrots and sweet peas also can be sown now.
I love fresh asparagus and it’s so easy to grow. It’s not difficult to plant a patch that returns year after year with minimal maintenance, and a big garden isn’t necessary; they fit nicely into the back of a sunny border or corner of the yard. After harvesting spears for a month or two, I let the tops grow. They are tall, beautiful, fern-like and last all summer.
It’s still just a little early for most flowers, although there are several that are frost hardy, like pansies, dianthus, Dusty Miller, snapdragons and petunias. I like to plant up a couple of containers that can be moved into the garage on those frosty nights.
Time to Harvest...
I planted several different leafy greens last fall and have been harvesting those delicious, vitamin-packed leaves again for several weeks. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage, among others, can over-winter here in central Oklahoma. They start growing again as the days get longer. Once the large heads of broccoli are harvested, the plant continues to produce smaller side shoots, which, along with the tender young leaves are delicious in stir-fries.
Longer day length and warmer temperatures can make the cool weather crops bolt, causing bitterness or textural changes. Planting transplants can give us a head start on harvesting these healthy, flavorful vegetables.
Come by Plant Wisdom to see our selection of vegetable seeds and transplants, flowers, and shrubs. We would love to help you plan your garden this year!
It was a lot of hard work. Years of thinking and dreaming, months of planning, and four false starts later, we have a home.
4711 N. May Ave, Oklahoma City.
The old TCBY in Mayfair Center.
Kathy and I are excited to be bringing something new to the Oklahoma City horticultural landscape, and next week we are excited to say that will have have some news for your all. So check back soon! Something big is coming!
Kathy and Alex have combined experience of over 25 years, and offer their expertise here.