After flooding, Oklahoma City plants on the rebound

Oklahoma gardening is always exciting when we push 100° with hot, dry winds and get record rainfalls with flash floods in the same week.Hopefully your garden held up well through this smorgasbord of weather. Except for washouts and extreme erosion caused by the flooding or damage from sustained time under water most of your plants have probably bounced back from these weather tests and are back in growth mode.

We normally have limited fungus issues of blackspot and mildew in the hot dry summer in Oklahoma but with this much water we are seeing an unusual amount of disease issues as the standing water and high humidity with hot temperatures creates a perfect incubator for many fungus, molds and diseases.

Be on the lookout for rotting or mushy plant tissue, white powdery mildew and dusty spores on leaves or flowers. Pick off and destroy damaged plant tissue and be prepared to use fungicides if needed to control these problems.

For disease and insect problems collect a sample of the problem plant material in a paper bag and take it to your nurseryman for diagnosis and suggested treatment. They can often recommend chemical and organic solutions for most problems. In most cases the chemical solution is faster acting but we are adding more natural or organic solutions to our gardening options all the time. The organic solutions are often slower to respond but can be effective over time when combined with a mindset of accepting a little less yield  and being willing to share more of your crop with nature.

These warm, moist conditions not only create more fungus and disease challenges for our plants but the warm weather is the high season for pest problems. Most of the insects produce many more eggs in each batch and much more often in warm weather so insects can appear to explode in population.

I have seen a surge in worm damage to many of the vegetables and annuals in my yard as they eat holes, whole leaves or even significant parts of young plants. Bagworms are growing on the junipers and cedars. Red spider mites are just getting started on the tomatoes and marigolds.

A good time to study your plants and watch for these insect and disease problems is as you are watering your flowers, lawn and trees. That time while you are soaking the plants is a good time to observe and enjoy their growth and to watch for pest or disease problems, to pick off or “dead head” old flowers and to pinch or prune your plants.

This is still a great time to plant container grown plants in your yard and plant new container gardens as long as you are diligent in your watering after planting. Sometimes at this time of the season you can buy many plants at a discount allowing you to try new species and experiment in your garden.


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