Finally, a rain that will go a long ways towards denting our drought! Unfortunately, we had to pay for it with a significant cold snap. Even though Thursday's temperatures might have seemed like a late freeze, in reality, it came right on schedule for the last average freeze date for North Central Oklahoma. If you lost several new garden or landscape plants, I suggest you go to the December page of your calendar NOW and make a note for next year about timing for planting tender spring plants.
This also provides a good opportunity to talk about the concept of staggering spring vegetable plantings. It is hard to resist the urging to rush out and plant early and that is understandable. It is also sometimes wise, as the last two summers have proven. The most successful plantings last year seem to have been those that were in the ground early and matured before our hot, dry spell set in. This strategy can just as easily work against you, as we've seen this week.
Staggering your crop planting dates, such as planting in 2 week increments of early, suggested time, and late provides a cushion against extreme weather or pest events. Adding diversity to the varietal selection does the same thing. This also provides the added bonus of stretching out your harvest over a longer period of time. For trees and shrubs that were nipped back, be patient for a week or two and see how they respond. In most cases, the plants will make a complete recovery. However, a few shrub species may need to be pruned back just a bit to look good this season.
Hardy perennials may also need a bit of corrective attention if the early leaves were burned back by the freeze. Obvious damage can be pruned off right away, just be patient before pulling a plant out of the ground because it appears dead.
Lastly, the freeze should have killed any early germinating crabgrass. If you did not apply crabgrass preemergence because you were afraid it was too late, go ahead and do that now.
One of the most common questions hor¬ticulturists hear is "what is the ideal plant for _____location? Alas, if only it were that easy. The short answer is "it depends". It comes as no surprise that this is not the answer most people are looking for. How do you determine which plants to choose for specific sites?
For the novice, a good place to start is finding plants that appeal to you growing in similar environmental condi¬tions to your own site. Explore the area and see what appeals to you in the landscape. The most important factor in choosing plants is the amount of available sunlight.
In general, landscape plants are fairly tolerant of some variation in light conditions although most perform best under a fairly limited range of light. For landscape plantings adjacent to buildings, observance of which side a building a plant is growing on can offer a good hint. Plants that excel on the south and west sides of buildings are going to tend to do well in hot sunny conditions. Plants prospering on the north or east side of buildings will help indicate their ability to tolerate shade.
Searching for plants that thrive in similar soil conditions is also important. As with light requirement, most plants are fairly tolerant of a wide range of soils, within reason of course. For Payne County residents, soils very high in clay are those most limiting to healthy landscape plant growth. On the other extreme are the sandy soils adjacent to the Cimarron River near Perkins.
Searching for plants can be fun, but it can also be frustrating if you cannot identify the plants you like when you see them growing in the landscape. This is where places like The Botanic Garden at OSU come in handy. The Botanic Garden is a marvelous place to see plants growing in the landscape, especially since they are labeled properly for easy identification. The Botanic Garden is most well known as the home of OSU's Oklahoma Gardening. The garden is open to visitors every day except Wednesday.
The garden is located west of Stillwater and can be accessed (with a short walk) from the entrance in the 3300 block of W.6th. For those unable to make the 1/4 mile walk, the garden can also be accessed from the north entrance at 3425 W. Virginia.
This entrance is open from 8AM to 5PM Monday thru Friday and from 10-3 on the first and third Saturday of every month. 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 email@example.com, phone at 405-747-8320, or in person at the Payne County Extension office, located at 315 W. 6th in Stillwater.