Horticulture Tips for January

Consider the following tasks for your January landscape: Read More...

The Story on Mistletoe

I’m not sure why mistletoe has fallen out of favor a bit as a holiday plant but it still has an interesting story that is worth telling. The fact that this Oklahoma native is present (and seemingly on the increase) in our area gives even more reason to talk about it. Read More...

Accidental Landscaping

Seedling elms, maples, cottonwoods, mulberries, and of course eastern red cedars are especially troublesome in our area. However, don’t be too quick to judge every tree that comes up unplanned as a weed problem. And while we are on the subject, it’s worth noting that a weed is simply a plant out of place, regardless of species or size. Read More...

Canna Care

Canna are long lived perennials that work very well in many landscape situations. From a landscape perspective, their limiting factor is probably the tendency to get a little bit ragged looking and beat up by our winds by the end of the season. Read More...

Horticulture Tips for December

Even though landscape maintenance may be a low priority on your “to do” list in December, there are a few things to consider this time of year that can pay big dividends when next spring rolls around. Read More...

Tree Pruning Begins with Safety

We will soon be approaching the ideal time of year to do corrective pruning on most ornamental shade trees. Please keep the following tips in mind if you do your own tree care.
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Protecting Your Young Tree Investment

We need to continue to plant young trees with the assumption that some of our older trees will be failing soon as a result of the drought of 2011-2015. While a October would have been better, there is still time to plant trees this in November, if you do it soon.
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Horticulture Tips for November

November is almost here. Enjoy the remaining color in the garden and count each day a bonus. Beyond that, consider the following landscape tasks this month Read More...

Late October Landscape Tasks

Right now is a great time to walk your landscape and take notes on what you like and don’t like. Read More...

Fall Cover Crops

Cover, or green manure, crops are usually grown when the garden soil is idle. They can also be planted between rows of fruits or vegetables to serve as living mulch. Read More...

Unsightly Mounds in the Lawn

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
It’s about the time of year to begin seeing small mounds of soil appearing in your lawn. The typical report is multiple mounds two to four inches in diameter, sometimes with a hole in the center but sometimes without.

There are a couple of insects that can create this type of soil structure but the most common cause in September is the cicada killer. This very large wasp (about an inch and a half long), while quite intimidating at first glance, is usually benign and harmless. Even though the female cicada killer can sting people, it generally only does so when provoked. The male of this species is more aggressive but it lacks the capacity to sting.

As the name indicates, cicada killers do kill and feed on cicadas. The mounds are created from the soil removed to create a burrow the insect uses as a home to lay its eggs. The dead cicada is placed in the burrow to provide a food source for the newly hatching wasp larvae.

Under most circumstances, control of these insects is not suggested since they are rarely a problem for humans and cause no disruption to our food supply. If unusual circumstances necessitate control, there are some options. Any “knock down” wasp control product will work. Individual mounds can also be treated with dusts labeled for wasp control. As with any pesticide, read the label and follow directions carefully.

Another insect we generally get calls on this time of year is the cricket. Crickets are generally just a nuisance so control measures are not suggested. The best a homeowner can do is to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum around building entries. It may also help to keep dead crickets swept up as it is thought that the swarm tends to build on itself as the crickets search for mating partners near the end of their life cycle.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at
keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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

What a Year it has been for Crabgrass

The office has been swamped with calls about crabgrass this year. Given the level of frustration from so many people, I thought a brief discussion on this weed might be helpful. Read More...

Tree Care Starts on the Ground

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
The importance of protecting the root system of a mature tree cannot be overstated if the long term health of a tree is important. But what exactly do we mean by “protecting the root system?” We will get to that later into the column but first try to visualize this word picture as it is important in understanding how much root protection is enough.

Many of us are under the impression that if you pulled a tree out of the ground with its root system intact, the roots would be a mirror image of the top growth. This is untrue. A better model would be to turn a dinner plate upside down and place a wine glass on it. The goblet bowl would represent the leaf canopy, the stem would be the trunk, the base would be the critical root flare, and the dinner plate would represent the feeder roots.

With this image in mind, you can see that feeder roots extend out well beyond the dripline of the tree, often times 3 to 5 times the distance of the tree itself. It is these roots that the tree depends on for nutrient and moisture intact and air exchange. When they are damaged or covered, the tree will suffer to some extent. Just how much of this damage a tree can take is highly variable and is dependent on several factors including species, soil conditions, environmental conditions and sudden changes to the microclimate.

The root flare, the area above ground where the tree begins to widen as well as the large structural roots immediately below ground, is even more important to the long term health of the tree. This area should be protected completely if at all possible.

What exactly is meant by protection? Basically, it is anything that might dramatically alter the soil where these roots live and work to sustain the tree. This could be as non-invasive as soil compaction. A classic example of this is when areas under trees suddenly become regular parking areas, or in the case of housing construction, material staging or storage areas.

Adding soil to an existing area is also discouraged. While the problem may appear to be different from compaction, the net result is the same. Air and water movement is suddenly limited by the change.

Moving on to a more extreme example would be destroying the roots by deep rototilling or soil removal. During the drought of the last few years, I saw several examples where trees finally gave up and died when unknowing homeowners rototilled under their trees attempting to re-establish their lawn. The loss of the root mass was simply too much for the stressed tree to overcome.

Does this mean that if you’ve done some of this to your trees that they are going to die soon? Not necessarily. As an Extension Educator, clients often dislike hearing the words “it depends,” but that is exactly the case here. As already stated, a trees ability to withstand damage is dependent on many factors. All I can say with certainty is your trees will be much better off if the root zone is not damaged in the first place since once it occurs, there is not much that can be done to compensate for it.

For more information on this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at
keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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

Storm Damaged Tree Report

Storm damage is inevitable in Oklahoma. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. Consider the following as it applies to any storm-damaged landscape. Read More...

Horticulture Tips for September

The weeds we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks are ready to jump out of the ground so this is your last reminder to deal with them now. Read More...

Seeding Tall Fescue Lawns

Last week’s column generated some questions about reseeding cool season lawns. Here is the process in greater detail. Read More...

August Turf Care

If you enjoy a quality lawn, we are quickly approaching an important time of the year for performing key maintenance practices. First we will talk about bermudagrass (for sun) and then tall fescue or a tall fescue/kentucky bluegrass blend (for shade). Read More...

Horticulture Tips for August

Consider the following tips for your August landscape maintenance. Read More...

Mid-Summer Pecan Tree Care

Conditions right now would suggest that we may have a significant pecan crop this year. Now is a good time for a homeowner to take action on items that can potentially pay nice dividends when it is time to harvest.
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Act Now for Proper Fruit and Nut Fertilization

Even though we do not generally fertilize these crops this time of year, July is the time to find out what your pecan, peach or apple trees and grapevines really need. Read More...

Fall Webworm Watch

We are getting reports in the Extension office of fall webworm activity. While these are common pests, this is a bit more than we normally see. It’s hard to be too bold in predicting the future for insect activity but this is one to keep an eye on right now. Read More...

Catching up on the Mowing

If you are behind on your mowing, rest assured you are not alone! Here are a few suggestions to help you get the lawn back under control with a minimum of fuss. Read More...

Fertility Management for Pecans

Pecan trees will respond favorably to fertilization if key nutrients are lacking in the soil. The best way to find out exactly what fertilizer your trees may need is to conduct a pecan leaf analysis. Read More...

Crapemyrtle Woes

Crapemyrtles have long been considered “marginally hardy” to our part of the world and many of us are now dealing with unsightly plants. Read More...

Real Rain

While its true that one rainy period cannot possibly undo all the damage that has been done to our landscapes from the 4-year drought, this recent rain is a promising step in the right direction. Read More...

Oak and Sycamore Trees…Don’t Panic

Home Grown  by Keith Reed
The Extension office is being overrun right now with inquiries about problems with oak and sycamore trees. The two issues are completely unrelated so we will discuss them separately.

Anthracnose is a fungal disease that is very common to sycamores. I suspect part of the reason why we are getting a number of calls on it has to do with the drought; it’s been so dry the last few years that the disease has not been as serious as usual.

The good news is the disease is not fatal to sycamores. The bad news is it makes them look bad for much of the season as it often causes premature leaf drop. Since the disease is not fatal to the tree, control measures are not ordinarily suggested. However, if you have a high value tree and want to do everything you possibly can for it, some treatment can help. IF the tree does drop its leaves and puts on a second set, a fungicide labeled for anthracnose can help protect the tree. It will not help to spray now if you are already seeing leaves curl and drop, wait patiently for the new leaves to come out.

We are also receiving many calls on malformed oak tree leaves. In every case so far, this has been related to damage from galls of one form or another. Oak leaf vein gall seems to be especially bad. It is characterized by an odd growth along the vein of the leaf that eventually leads to severe malformation. Galls can also take on many other forms, ranging from resembling fruit to looking like something from a science fiction cartoon. See
OSU Fact Sheet #EPP-7168, Galls Formed by Insects and Mites for detailed information and what galls can look like.

Galls are another case where treatment is not warranted. While they can do significant cosmetic damage, they do not hurt the tree long term. That is good, because control of the insects or mites that cause the galls are very difficult.

For more information of this or any other horticultural topic, you can contact Keith Reed, the Horticulturist in the Payne County Extension office. Keith can be reached via email at keith.reed@okstate.edu, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.

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

Leaf Blister Issues on Trees

Weather conditions this year appear to be just right for a large number of “leaf blistering” diseases to show up. While it is probably too late to treat for the symptoms you are seeing now, review this article for instructions on preventing an outbreak next season. Read More...

Don’t Forget the Trees when Caring for Bees

Trees are often overlooked as important pollen and nectar sources. Since most trees flower well above the eye level of the average person, it is easy to forget about them as being important for bees. Read More...

Spring Weed Control Update

The window for applying pre-emergence crabgrass control has effectively closed as crabgrass is germinating all over Payne County. Read More...

Rose Rosette Disease

If you’ve grown roses for a while, chances are you’ve seen rose rosette virus even if you did not realize what it was. Rose rosette is characterized by a few common symptoms. Lets look at those and discuss what you should do if you find your roses have this disease. Read More...

Crabgrass Prevention

The choices for products offering crabgrass and other weed control can be overwhelming. This information should help you increase your chances for successful weed control this season. Read More...

Drought Update

While the sunshine, warm temperatures and wind are all a welcome respite from a dreary winter, it is also a gentle reminder of a very serious issue; we are still in a drought. Read More...

Spring Gardening Seed Starting Part 2

Following up on last weeks discussion of starting seeds, lets get those little seedlings ready for spring planting. Read More...

Spring Gardening Seed Starting

If you are a fan of cool season crops like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and onions, some important dates are right around the corner. Read More...
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