Everyone loves spring, especially gardeners, and there are many chores to do this time of year. Now would be a great time to pick up or download Oklahoma State University Extension Fact Sheets for specific “Oklahoma” research-based information to help you succeed in your lawn, garden and landscape.
Fact Sheets are available from your Oklahoma County Extension Service Office or at http://osufacts.okstate.edu.
One of the most popular and useful fact sheets available is No. 6408 “Landscape Maintenance Schedule.” which provides tips and the specific timing of year-round gardening and landscaping chores.
Most bedding plants, summer flowering bulbs and annual flower seeds can be planted after danger of frost. This generally happens about mid-April in Oklahoma. We need to remain watchful of the weather right now and avoid planting if we are going to have temperatures drop and cause a frost or freeze. I have seen it freeze in early May in Oklahoma City!
Mid-April generally is considered the best time to transplant tomatoes, but again, look at the long-term forecast and wait until we are safe from low temperatures. Beans, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers and summer squash are planted about the middle to the end of April. The “Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide” (No. 6004) is an excellent fact sheet to help with proper planting timing, spacing requirements and even harvesting information for vegetable gardeners.
Warm-season grass lawns can be established beginning in late-April from sprigs, plugs or sod. Check out Fact Sheet No. 6419 “Establishing a Lawn in Oklahoma” to assist with this process.
Mowing and fertilizing of warm-season lawns can begin now. Warm-season grasses can be fertilized three to five times per season starting in April. A soil test can help you pinpoint your lawns’ fertilizer needs. You also can refer to Fact Sheet No. 6420 “Lawn Management in Oklahoma.”
You may still be removing winter-damaged branches or plants. Hold off if you still have green wood and then prune back to where new growth starts. Some plants still can come back from the base, like crape myrtle, so continue to be patient.
It’s a perfect time to plant trees and shrubs, too. If you are replacing trees and shrubs you lost last winter, remember Oklahoma City lies in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map in Zone 7a. Plants frequently injured by low winter temperatures are those which are planted in areas north of their appropriate hardiness zone. Marginally hardy plants, such as Zone 8 species, can suffer from winter injury as we saw this year.
It is not always easy to decide which plants to use in your garden and landscape, and nurseries can be a little overwhelming with so many choices. The series of Fact Sheets No. 6439 “Selecting Shrubs for the Landscape,” No. 6456 “Selecting Deciduous Trees for Oklahoma,” and No. 6463 “Selecting Evergreen Trees” can help you select adapted plants and they even include color pictures.
The Oklahoma State University “Oklahoma Proven” program also is designed to help you choose high performance plants for your landscape. Oklahoma Proven is a plant evaluation and marketing program designed to help consumers select the best plants for Oklahoma gardens. Every year they name a tree, shrub, annual and perennial that do outstanding in Oklahoma.
To see all the plants recommended by this program for the past 22 years, go to http://www.oklahomaproven.org/. You can even search by plant category for your specific needs.
Email Julia Laughlin, Oklahoma County Extension horticulture educator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.