Q: Got plant problems?
A: Many folks do at this time of the year, and for that matter, nearly any time of the year.
Much of this diagnosing, of necessity, is done over the telephone. However, telephone diagnosis of your particular problem often can be very difficult. Here's the reason why:
Plants, unlike people, can speak only through their symptoms. Therefore, the person viewing the ailing plant must have some idea of what to look for and then be able to accurately describe their findings if help is to be had over the phone.
For instance, a person may call and say, “My beautiful shrub just dropped dead. What happened to it?” That's a pretty tough question to answer! The problem could be one of many things, or perhaps a combination of several factors, such as herbicide (weedkiller) injury, root rot, insect damage to the root system, too much water, not enough water, poor drainage, nematodes, leakage from gas lines, and the list could go on and on.
Your plant may have a pale yellow color rather than a healthy green. In this case the problem could be improper soil pH, nematode damage, iron deficiency, poor drainage, or starvation from lack of fertilizer.
Your shrub may fail to flower. Could be the plant is too young, there is excessive vegetative growth caused by too much nitrogen, or lack of sufficient sunlight.
A young plant may fail to produce berries. It could have suffered from frost damage during the flowering period, improper pruning, lack of pollination, and yes, it might even be a male.
As you can see, there may be many problems which contribute to symptoms of plant disorders.
So, in order that we at the OSU Extension Office can do the best job for you in diagnosing your plant problem, here are some things to consider before you call:
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
The following workshop will be at the OSU Extension Center, 930 N Portland. It is free and open to the public. For information, call 713-1125.
Q: What are some of the benefits of adding organic matter to my garden?
A: Adding organic matter to the soil in a garden area can create a yearly seedbed that is more fertile, has better water retention and helps prevent erosion.
Organic matter decomposes to form humus, which is extremely important to plant growth because it promotes a more favorable soil structure.
Humus decreases the loss of valuable minerals from leaching, makes the soil easier to cultivate, increases water-holding capacity and reduces erosion.
Adding organic matter to garden soil benefits the plant-growing environment in several ways.
Ray Ridlen is an agriculture/horticulture educator for the Oklahoma County Extension Service. His column addresses frequently asked horticulture questions. For more information, call 713-1125.