The hard killing freeze arrived this week across Oklahoma.  Leaves have been falling or blowing off our deciduous trees in waves.  We had experienced several light frosts and freezes that had already “retired” our more tender annual vegetables and flowers.  This hard freeze, in the teens, has pretty well finished off all the annual plants unless they are in a very protected courtyard or micro-climate.

Although most planting is over with the end of the growing season there are still a few things we can plant.  We can still plant cold hardy plants like pansies, ornamental kale and ornamental cabbage to provide color and excitement in our flowerbeds or large decorative containers well into winter, often all the way to next spring.  Pansies, in their multitude of bright colors and perky, fun flower faces are by far our most popular winter color plants.  We can still plant container grown or balled and burlapped trees, shrubs and evergreens to add to our foundation plantings and to start the shade trees of the future.  You won’t need to water winter plantings as often as spring and summer plantings but they will still need to be watered after planting and periodically through the winter if we get dry without the benefit of regular rains.  Although the tops or branches and foliage of trees and shrubs won’t grow through the winter the roots will grow some and help get these new plantings better established before next summer.

This is the best time to plant spring flowering bulbs to enjoy their party of color next spring.  Visit your local garden center to select the bulbs, plant them as soon as you have pretty days, water them in and relax until next spring when the inspiring flowers pop up from the ground.  Our most popular spring flowering bulbs to plant now include crocus, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, Dutch iris, snowdrops and many more lesser known spring flowering bulbs.  Select firm bulbs or rhizomes to plant upright in well drained soil.  Visit with your nurseryman to decide how deep to plant and on what spacing depending on the bulb crop you are planting.  I like to write the depth and spacing on the sack with each kind of bulb.  Bigger bulbs are usually older and have more stored energy to make more and bigger flowers.  Daffodils or narcissus produce beautiful trumpet style flowers in bright yellow, white, orange or a combination of colors.  Daffodils naturalize better than most other spring flowering bulbs here in Oklahoma and are more likely to come back year after year.  We have several groups of daffodils that we were told were planted in the 1930’s and still come back up and flower every spring.  Tulips are less likely to naturalize but are considered the “royal” flowering bulb and produce gorgeous upright flowers in red, pink, purple, white, and other colors.  Crocus are usually the first flowering bulb to flower each spring and these short, cute little flowers are often our first sign of spring as they announce the arrival of spring with longer days and warmer temperatures.

Start a compost pile with the leaves that have fallen on the lawn and ground.  Go shopping for spring bulbs and trees and then plant these now for your future enjoyment.


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