It looks like Oklahoma gardeners can now safely “plant away” on virtually all warm season plant material. Our night temperatures seem to be staying at 50 degrees or above, the days are now much longer and the sun intensity is getting brighter by the day.
We are now in the season where the sooner you plant your annual flowers and vegetables the longer you can enjoy them and the greater your harvest will be of flowers, food and aesthetic beauty before the November freeze ends another growing season.
It is now warm enough to plant most all kinds of container-grown annuals and perennials in your ground beds, raised beds, in planter boxes, decorative containers and hanging baskets or most any gardening nook or space. Even the really warm-blooded crops like sweet potatoes, periwinkle, copper plants and caladiums can now be planted with a high rate of success.
You can select and plant hundreds of plant species, including the ever popular begonias, geraniums, impatiens, petunias, penta, marigold and zinnias for color. It is always fun to explore and try some of the lesser known annuals along with the tried and true plants you have planted and enjoyed in the past.
You can plant large blocks of the same plant for mass impact, rows of different plants to create steps or waves of color and texture or you can plant a mixed garden of many types of plants depending on your taste and artistic style. Gardening is a chance to be an artist with living paints and to work with nature to produce a living and evolving masterpiece. Gardening gives us the chance to watch miracles happen daily as seeds, bulbs or small transplants grow from a small collection of cells into impressive large plants complete with flowers or fruit.
Vegetable and herb gardening has surged in popularity in recent years and we can now “plant away” on our tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, all kinds of herbs and even the most heat loving vegetables like okra. The sooner you can get your tomatoes and peppers planted, the more you can harvest before flower set and yields slow down in the intensive heat of July and August.
Commercial produce is going to be in tight supply and expensive this summer and fall because of extreme drought in many key vegetable production areas, such as California. This is an especially good year to raise part of your own fresh vegetables and herbs. You can raise more if you have space for a full vegetable garden but you can raise a surprising and fun amount of veggies in container gardens on your porch, patio or even an apartment balcony.
We have had a lot of wind and ice damage to trees and shrubs the past few years. If you need to replace some of your trees and shrubs or want to plant new ornamental or fruit trees for future shade, flower or fruiting this is a great season to “plant away.” Planting trees and shrubs is a gift to the future, kind of the savings account of the plant world, a chance to leave an inheritance of beauty, cooling shade and love to those that follow after you.
The “plant away” theme even applies to turf and lawn grasses. We are at the tail end of the season to sow tall fescue to establish or improve shady area lawns and the beginning of the season to sow Bermuda grass seed for sunny lawn areas.
We are still very dry across central and western Oklahoma so remember to soak all your new plantings with a good dose of refreshing water. Check your new plantings regularly, but most will do best with at least 1 inch of moisture per week from rain or your water hose. Remember a good soaking every few days or once a week depending on your soil type is better than just spraying or squirting your plants every night.
Rodd Moesel serves on the Oklahoma State University Agriculture Dean's Advisory Committee. He is a former president of the Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers Association. Email garden and landscape questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.