In the Heart of Prime Planting Season for Warm Weather Plants!

We are still in the heart of the prime planting season for all the warm weather annuals and color plants as well as perennials, shrubs and trees.  We have been blessed with regular rains and moderate temperatures so we have a wonderful extended planting season this year.  This is a great time of year to visit your local nurseries and garden centers to see the full selection of plant material that can be grown here in Oklahoma.  We have a huge palette of plants that can be grown in Oklahoma although we have to pay attention to get the right plants in the right locations.  The main keys to gardening success in Oklahoma usually come down to soil preparation, getting the sun/shade light (heat) levels correct when we pick plant location and watering.  Since we are a true four season state we get to see plants like pansies and kale that do well, even in full sun, in the cool parts of the year but succumb to the heat as summer temperatures and longer days confront us.  This time of year is a good indication as the pansies that survived the winter and looked great this spring begin to melt or wilt away in the increasing heat.  Other crops like sweet potatoes, caladiums, periwinkle or vinca, okra, melons, hibiscus and many other tropical plants love the heat, as long as they get adequate water and will grow and flower or fruit best as they thrive in the heat of an Oklahoma summer.

This is a good time to plant while selections are still good and the summer heat is not yet overwhelming so that new plantings have a good chance to get rooted in before the extreme heat.  You can plant container grown and balled or burlapped trees and shrubs with an intact root ball ready to transplant.  You can plant virtually the full smorgasbord of color annuals and perennials to add color and life to your landscape.  You can still plant most all the warm season vegetables including tomatoes, peppers and eggplant and we are nearing the end of the planting window to sow seed or plant transplants of summer and winter squash, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and watermelons.  You can sow seed of Bermuda grass or install sprigs or sod if you are typing to establish a summer lawn in a sunny location.

This is the season for container gardens if you want to add color to a patio, front porch, balcony or other area for a summer party, family get together or just for your own enjoyment.  Remember above ground containers will need more water and more often than ground beds and the smaller the container the more often it will dry out and need water while larger containers with more soil media will need less attention.  You can grow ornamentals or vegetables in your container gardens.  There are literally hundreds of choices in the containers you select and the plants to go in them to allow you to express your artistic or design personality.

All new plantings will require more water than established plantings as they grow their root systems and get settled into their new environment.  You can reduce your watering needs and the urgency of watering by mulching your new and existing plantings with a surface mulch of shredded bark or hulls.  This garden practice of mulching will often reduce watering needs by up to half while cooling the soil and reducing weed pressure.

Not only our desired plants are growing good as the temperatures warm up but also the insect and disease activity picks up as the temperatures rise. Our disease problems are worse after rains or when we have extended dark, cloudy weather or very high humidity.  The insect pressure is largely driven by heat.  If you face an insect or disease you don’t recognize or know how to respond, put a sample in a zip lock bag and take it to your local garden center, nursery or the nearest OSU County Extension Office to Identify and suggest a solution.

There was a great Garden Festival at the Myriad Gardens last Saturday and today the Oklahoma City Council of Garden Clubs is hosting a plant sale and garden festival at the newly remodeled Garden Exposition Building in Will Rogers Park if you want to go exploring for plants today.

Get busy planting and enjoy this magnificent planting season!

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