Recommended Plants for Oklahoma

Okiedawn OK Zone 7May 3, 2005

I'm posting this list for Mariposa, who has been at the mercy of the guys at Home Depot who are, let's just say they are recommending some unusual plants.

Since we want for Mariposa to have gardening success, let's give her a list of plants she can use to landscape her home.

I hope those of you reading this post will add to the thread, beccause lots of heads are better than just one!

Here's my list:

First the disclaimer, almost everything I list will do well if you have good drainage, have amended the soil with some organic material, mulch it well and water it occasionally.

Secondly, think of your house as having four microclimates--east, west, north, south. A plant listed as doing well in one microclimate may or may not do well in another. For example, most plants that would like the shady north side of the house would hate the bright sunny west side, unless you are in an old, established neighborhood with huge trees and lots of shade.


For the north side of your house, which tends to be shadier and cooler than the rest of the yard, and more exposed to winter's cold fronts:

TREES: Redbud (Cercis canadensis)--grows as an understory tree in the forest, so can handle quite a lot of shade. The spring blooms are a bonus.

Amur Maple (Acer ginala)--tough tree and lovely fall color

Possumhaw Holly--(Ilex ?)--a tough native that grows as an understory tree in the wild. Starts out shrub-size but can easily attain 10-15 feet in height. Deciduous. Berries.

SHRUBS: All of these like full shade to part shade.

Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquifolium)

Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealei)

Acuba (Acuba japonica)--needs shade in both summer or winter or it will get leaf scorch and die; it is beautiful

Nandina (Nandina domestica)

Viburnums (there are many kinds: Rusty Blackhaw Virburnum, Arrowwood Virburnum, Burkwood Viburnum)

Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata--many named cultivars are available--research to find one the right height)

GROUNDCOVERS: (In addition to the hostas and vinca you have, Mariposa, here's a couple of others you could use)

Monkey Grass/Mondo Grass (Ophiopgon japonicus)

Liriope/Lily-Turf (Liriope muscari)

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Persian Ivy ((Hedera colchica)

Autumn Fern (Dryopterix erythrosora)


Ajuga (Ajuga reptens)--could also be used as a ground cover;

blooms in spring and a little on and off after that, spreads easily)

Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

ANNUALS: (for color if you want it)

Wax begonias (Begonia semperflorens)

Caladium (Caladiums area available in many colors/heights)

Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)--the old standards love shade; there are some new ones called Sun Coleus that will grow in shade or quite a bit of sun

Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)--these guzzle lots of water!


For the east side of your house, which likely gets morning sun and is shadier in the afternoon, or is at least more sheltered from the western sun than the west & south sides of your house:

The ones already listed for the north side of the house, plus:

Caddo Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum 'Caddo')--would likely take full sun, but would like some afternoon shade better

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)--gets huge!

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulandiana)--also gets quite large. There are so smaller cultivars of magnolias available, like 'Little Gem"--maybe 10 to 12' tall eventually

Leyland Cypress

Atlas Cedar


Abelia grandiflora

Boxwood, small-leaved (Buxus microphylla)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)--many named cultivars available

Hollies: Burford Holly, Dwarf Burford Holly, Yaupon Holly, Dwarf Yaupon Holly, Foster's Holly, Nellie R. Stevens Holly (should be listed as a tree, 'cause Nellie R. Stevens gets huge!)


Purple wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)

Liriope/Lily-turf (Liriope muscari)

Moneygrass/mondograss (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Bishop's Weed (Aegopodium podogaria)--can be invasive


Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)

Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)

Iris hybrids

Sweet violet (Viola odorata)--can be invasive

ANNUALS: All those listed for the north side would do well on the east side, plus these:


Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata)

Geraniums (Perlargoniums)


Wishbone Flower (Torenias)

SOUTH AND WEST: Any plants on the south and west sides of your home will need to be able to handle lots of sun and the drying south winds (unless you have huge, old established shade trees).


Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii)

Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muhlenbergii)

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima)

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Leyland Cypress

Kentucky Coffee Tree (gets huge & very drought tolerant)

Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpus)

Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)

Lacebark Em (Ulmus parvifolia)

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) bluish blooms in summer, will grow short of shrubby but you can prune it into a tree form

and there's many, many more.


Any junipers

Any nandina

Any barberry

Rose of Sharon/Althea (Hibiscus syriacus)

Any burford or yaupon holly

Crape Myrtle (Lagersromia indica)--some get tree-sized, some are medium-sized, some are dwarf

and many others

GROUNDCOVERS/CLIMBING VINES (to shade the house or porch):

American Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)--climber

Boston Ivy (Parthenocisus triscuspidata)--climber

Trumpetcreeper Vine (Campsis radicans) hummers love it but it can be very invasive--climber

Virginia Creeper (dreeps or climbs)

Climbing Roses (climbs if it has something to climb, or arches)

GROUNDCOVERS: these are the tough ones that can handle the heat and sun

Stonecrop (Sedum species--many varieties)

Junipers (the low, spreading species of juniper)

Hardy Ice Plant (Delosperma copperi)

Asian jasmine


Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

Cannas (Canna hybrids--they won't die, and you can't kill them!)

Coneflowers (Echinaceas)

Coreopsis (Coreopsis)

Gaillardia aka Blanket Flower (Gaillardia grandiflora)

Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)


Cockscombs (Celosia sp.)

Cosmos (Cosmos sp.)

Copper Plant (Acalypha wilkesiana)

Gazania daisy (Gazania splendens)

Globe Amaranth/Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa)

Ornamental Sweet Potato (Ipomea batatas)--there's "Blackie" which is maroon, "Marguerite" which is chartreuse, a variegated one with pink/green/white leaves whose name I don't remember, and one that's new (at least to me) "Ladyfingers"

Periwinkle/Annual Vinca (Catharanthus roseus)

Summer Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia)

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

Daylily (Hemerocallis species/hybrids)

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana)

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Wormwood (Artemesia species)

Verbeba (Verbena canadensis)

Oh, and I didn't even touch on the idea of ornamental grasses really. There are many, most for some degree of sun.

Got questions? Ask!


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Let's see if I can add to your list!
To the vines add the following:
Wisteria--full sun, decidious, needs very strong, sturdy support, blooms in the spring, takes some pruning to keep it in bounds but is gorgeous.
Carolina Jessamine--evergreen, full to partial shade, on a south facing fence or trellis with some protestion from the north, likes acid soil but will live with a slightly alkaline or neutral soil, blooms in the spring but looks good all year round
Silver lace Vine--also called mile a minute vine, partial shade to full sun, decidious, not invasive root wise but will cover a fence or shed really, realy fast with lovely, airy summer blooms. Grows up to 30 feet per summer!
Clematis--mostly full sun, comes in many forms including evergreen and decidious, can be spring, summer, or autumn bloomers, will take some, lots or no pruning depending on the variety. Most prolific are Nelly Moser (blooms all summer, needs little pruning, and takes partial shade for blooms to be bright. Both the Montana and Autumn clematis will take over the planet if not whacked back severely every spring and provided with strong trellis.

My favorite full to partial sun perennials:
Yucca (plant where yo uplan never ot have to move it!)
Russian sage (Hey, this isnt' an annual, sweetie. It's a very hardy perennial)
Chrysanthemums (get the perennial varieties, not the annuals)
Purple heart and dusty miller (yes, they will return if you trim and mulch them in the fall)
Lantana (the perennial varieties, not the annuals
Lamb's ears (you can ge thte ones that bloom or the ones that don't but both are lovely)
Yarrow or Achiellia(I like the clear white or yellows best)
Ground covers: Add chameleon plant and plant it where it can roam a lot

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 6:46PM
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debbie_sw_ok(z7 OK)

Here's some of my favorite sun perennials:
May Night Salvia
Tall Phlox
Shasta Daisy
Malva Zebrina (reseeds freely & stays green all winter here)
Snapdragons (I think they are considered annuals but I have them come back every year)

Plus the echinacea,daylily, canna & blanket flower listed above all do well here.

I don't have any favorite shade perennials because I have very little shade here.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 7:19PM
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Thank you Dawn, Debbie and OKC1!! I went back to HD to complain to the manager, and he also told me that the suppliers are the ones who REALLY know what grows in my part of the country. I argued that even if that were true, that his staff could NOT tell me which side of the yard I should plant what, and that I was talked into buying something that's going to grow up to 15ft in an area that really only needs about a 4' shrub. He claims that I could cut it back and that I would end up with a healthy Privet. Imagine I ask this man if he knew what zone we're in and he turns around to ask two garden helpers and they DID NOT know. Are we zone 7? I think that's what I read somewhere.

Well I'll be heading to a nursery with the list that I get from here this weekend and they'd better not mess with me!! Should take it to HD as well, lol

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 9:46PM
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Okie Dawn--you listed Four O'Clocks as a perenniel? We always planted them from seeds yearly where I grew up (NW Indiana). Are they actually perenniels down here, or do they self-seed themselves for the following year? If they're actually perenniels, I'm going to have to put some in...

OKC 1--My last batch of Dusty Miller lasted four years under on the south edge of a bed under two big river birch trees. Didn't come back this year.

Purple heart is supposed to be trimmed and mulched? How far back do you trim it, and when? I've always just let mine disappear each fall and it reappears each spring, like the hostas. It doesn't spread much though--should it?

Thanks to all for your posts and the information you provide. I learn something every time I come to this site.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 12:20AM
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sarab(z7 OK)

Good grief! Those HD folks didn't even know what zone OKC is? Not very confidence inspiring...

Dawn's list is great, also OKC 1's and DebbieSW Ok.

Today my husband and I had a lot of waiting time for a medical appointment for him; I was glad I had my copy of Steve Dobb's latest edition of Oklahoma Gardener's Guide with me--not just to pass the time--it's really an invaluable reference. Many of the recommendations already listed in this thread are recommended in his book.

I think understanding your own personal little slice of land is the key in knowing what will grow well for you. Does your gardening space get a lot of sun, or is it shaded by the trees on adjoining property? Are you interested in shrubs and trees that will work well in your space or do you want to have plants, such as herbs, that you can harvest to use in cooking? Or do you want showy flowers that work in the space you have to grow them in. Do you want plants that work as ground covers or plants that provide more dramatic, showy displays? Or a combination?

I'm a little schizophrenic in my own gardening habits--I have separate areas for herbs, veggies, and ornamentals. I' rather scattered. I like to have plants that attract butterflies positioned where my husband can observe them, because he has limited mobility. I like having an herb plot where I can grab some parsley or basil when I'm cooking. If I want rosemary or sage, I cut them from the bed that is on the south side of our house because that is where they grow the best.

Once those questions are answered, or whatever you decide your gardening goals are; then you will know how to choose what plants you will want to grow, and how you want to garden in the space you have to work with and what plants, shrubs, and trees will work best for you.

Best, sara

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 1:06AM
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Purple heart will die back on its own, but if you remove the nasty mushy foliage after the frost or freeze hits it and then mulch them, the "stand" will get more full every year.
Cool, eh?
I've found out the hard way that researching on your own before you go out to buy, like in the winter when you are planning and plotting your yard, is the best way to go.
Taht and developing relationships with knowledgeable people you can trust.
I love shopping at Horn's but I only rely on advice only from David Horn or Elaine at Horns because they truly know what they are talking about.
They also stand behind their sales and won't give you the run around.
They just don't stock plants that won't survive in OKC, which is great, because they don't want to have to give refunds or credits all the time. Makes sense, eh?
Not so with HD, Lowes, and some of the other places. You may pay a little more at a nursery for trees, shrubs, or perennials, but unless you are willing to research and be your own expert, you will do well to trust the advise of folks who know.
For annuals, hey, go for whatever you can find wherever you can find it if the plant is healthy. But trees, shrubs and perennials are an investment.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 6:56AM
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taylmat_OK(z6B Tulsa)

That's the difference from buying anything at the big bow store and from a local person with local and specialized knowledge.

I might get on a rant here, but why would you want to take gardening advice from some schlep at HD or Lowe's that they're paying $6 an hour and can't even tell you what zone you're in so you can save a dollar on a 1 gallon tree? Sure, if you're buying a bunch of plants you might actually save $20. But is it worth $20 to support your local nursery with experts that give expert advice versus contributing to the coprorate giants putting them out of business? Big box stores buy tons of plants from the same growers and ship regionally. That means plants sold in Oklahoma are the same ones they're selling in Dallas, Houston, KC, St Louis, and Denver. Do you think our climate, soil type, wind conditions, weather are the same as those widely varied areas? Do you think the kid making $6/hour knows that?

Support your local nursery!! This advertisement provided free of charge to all local nurseries everywhere. I don't work for any of them and opinions expressed here are strictly my own. If you are working at HD or Lowe's, I'm sorry for insulting you and you seriously need to think about joining a union to demand more money and better working conditions.

I'll get off my soapbox now....


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 10:02AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

OKC1 & Debbie: Thanks for adding to the list. Debbie, I know you don't have shade, but you have more sun/heat than any of us, so you are our "hot zone" expert!!!

Plaid Thumb: I swear to you the 4 o'clocks are perennial here. lol They also reseed with careless abandonment. If you live anywhere near me, or you are willing to drive down here, I have thousands that you can have. You'll have to take the small ones, though, as the large ones have roots the size of your head!

I have had dusty miller come back some years and not come back others. It seems to come back most often if we have a fairly dry, moderate winter. In my clay soil, a cold, wet winter will wipe it out though!

Sara: Ditto the recommendation on the Steve Dobbs book! I bought it when I moved here and was thrilled to discover that some plants, like lilac, that I couldn't grow in Texas can be grown here because of our slightly colder winters. If I had relied only on my old Texas gardening books, I never would have known that.

Matt: That's usually "my" rant. :) Thanks for doing it for me so I didn't have to. I think I went on a similar rant recently though!

Mariposa, Isn't it wonderful to have a "family" of Oklahoma gardeners to offer you suggestions/advice? It is sort of like having brothers and sisters telling you what to do! (I hope we don't get too bossy, as siblings sometimes do.)

It seems to me like you have a perfect understanding now of what you are up against when you try to deal with the HDs of the world (and I generally put Lowe's and Wal-Mart in the same category). If a garden department manager doesn't know what zone his store is in, that tells you all you need to know!

As for his comment that the wholesalers know what grows in any given area, and therefore supply it to the stores, oh, give me a break! Wholesalers will sell whatever they can get someone to buy. It is really an endless cycle of incompetence. If the store sells what the wholesaler supplies, then both the store and the wholesaler believe it is "good" for that area. But just who is following up with the consumers to see if those plants are growing/thriving or if they died? Nobody! It really is a case of "buyer beware".

I could even argue the point that it is in their best interest for a certain percentage of the plants you plant to eventually die. That way you will come back and buy more. Most people will lose the receipts needed to return a plant if it dies within that first year.

To be fair, not all employees of smaller nurseries are as knowledgeable as they should be either. When dealing with them it is still best to do your research first, but do be willing to engage the employess of smaller nurseries in conversation. One way I can "weed out" the knowledgeable ones from those who pretend to be knowledgeable is to ask them either or both of these questions when they recommend a plant, like a shrub or tree, that is a major investment:

1) Oh, have you grown this plant at your home here in the city?

2) Can you tell me where I can see some of these growing around town--like at a park, the zoo, etc.?

If they can't answer either question, take their "advice" with a grain of salt.

Happy gardening, everyone!


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 10:43AM
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Hello everyone, I got up early and headed out to a small nursery that's about 10 minutes from where I live. BTW I'm in Tulsa. Anyway, they did not carry shrubs which is what I'm looking for (shade loving), but I did get some herbs. We actually have a herb garden that we started about 3 years ago and I've been successful at growing basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, mint (unfortunately), curry, chives, and cilantro. I guess I picked a good spot to start that garden without knowing.

My daughter fell in love with the obedient plant last year at a garden show, and we bought 6. They have since forged their own military and we probably have about 40 plants! Another mint menace???? However, they're in their own area so hopefully they won't invade the rest of my yard.

Been reading a little about day lillies because the 'expert' at HD had tried to sell me some but I was reluctant to buy before learning some more from you guys. Are those a good choice for shade/sun?

I think this thread will be very helpful to other Okies as well since we kind of have similar problems with soil etc.

Thanks again for starting it Dawn, and I loved the comments by Matt. I have half a mind to copy some of those and show the garden manager at HD, lol

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 12:13PM
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Dawn, I had to chuckle when I read that your four o'clocks reseed with "reckless abandon" --- when we moved into this house in 1998, there was absolutely NO landscaping. However, there were four o'clocks in the back flowerbed. I should say -- they TOOK the back flowerbed. Seven years later, I'm still trying to rid the bed of those big-stemmed suckers. I haven't let them seed in several years and they still take over everything! The irony is that I was so proud to have at least one flower blooming when we moved in.

Now a note to Mariposa and all of you -- I most highly recommend Steve Dobbs "Oklahoma's Gardening Guide." It is easy to read, has down-to-earth advice, and on each of the plants, he tells which cultivars/varieties he likes best. I've been gardening for years and still carry it with me any time I go to a nursery -- then I know I'm getting good advice. (Hey, I'm old and forgetful!) He doesn't cover all plants, of course -- but for beginners, if he doesn't list it, I wouldn't buy it. You can get the book in bookstores for about $20 or at for about $5.

I sure enjoy everyone's comments. D.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 12:42PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Oh, how well I can relate to that!

I remember when I was a newlywed and had a yard with a lot of shade trees and nothing else. My dad, who lived just down the road a little ways, had 4 o'clocks popping up everywhere and I was so jealous!

We didn't know where they came from as he had lived there a very long time, but there might have been seeds in the soil, and when he tilled it to plant tomatoes, all of a sudden he had 4 o'clocks.

Well, he dug up a little one and I took it home. I was so excited to have that one four o'clock!

Within a few years I had a few 4 o'clocks. Not too many as it was a mostly shady yard. I DID pull up the seedlings religiously so they wouldn't get out of hand.

When we moved up here I "missed" the 4 o'clocks, so bought some seed and planted a few. For 2 or 3 years I had a heck of a time getting them to sprout and grow. Then, all of a sudden, four o'clocks everywhere! Now I must pull up 5,000 seedlings a year, and if I don't pull them up before they get too big, I can't get rid of them, as the monster roots remain forever and will be here long after I am dead and gone. lol

The area where they reseed is in my small strip of sandy soil under a pecan tree. They also reseed a little bit in the flower/herb border that surrounds my veggie garden.

Nothing eats them as far as I can tell--not the rabbits, deer, caterpillars, etc. So, like it or not, I will have 4 o'clocks forever!

I have the old-fashioned pink/fuschia ones that are natives. I have the "Broken Colors" ones that are splotched and speckled, but they don't seem to reseed in the clay where I have them. I also have yellow-flowered ones and white-flowers ones which sometimes reseed in my chicken coop garden. And, just because I haven't learned any better, this year I planted 'Limelight Rose' in my flower border. It is a new hybrid with chartreuse leaves.

Love 'em or hate 'em, four o'clocks do survive our toughest droughts and you have to appreciate their hardiness, as well as their reproductive ability!

Ditto on the Steve Dobbs book!


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 1:04PM
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taylmat_OK(z6B Tulsa)

Mariposa, I have about 6 daylillies in my beds here in Owasso. I find them almost foolproof. I grow Stella d'Oro because they rebloom all summer long and into fall. They really don't care about soil either. I have some planted in rock hard clay and others planted in poorly drained silty loam and both are doing great.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 2:13PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I don't know how dayliliies do in part shade because I barely have any shade at all in the areas where I garden.
Mine also grow in rock hard clay and in quick-draining sandy soil that has had only a little compost added. They also are doing well in clay that has been well-amended with lots of compost and manure. In full sun they can go a long, long time without water (I neglect mine terribly as they are far, far from the house) which I consider a plus.

Someone on this forum grows millions of daylillies, but I don't remember who. Maybe he/she (or anyone else who knows) will let you know how much shade they can take.

My DH's uncle in Edmond had hundreds of daylillies all over his 1/2-acre lot for many, many years and they did well until his lot became more "full-shade" than "part-shade"!
I think he finally gave them away as they were getting so much shade that they didn't bloom much any more.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 7:20PM
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Well I do have full sun areas, so if they can survive in sun with little water for part of the summer, then daylillies with be a plus for my yard. We tend to go away for long periods in the summer, hence my 'low maintenance' plant wishes.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 8:36PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Can you hook up a timer to a sprinkler to water once a week while you're gone?

Or maybe get a neighbor to water if extreme drought lingers?

That said, my daylilies down by the road don't get ANY irrigation (there is no way I am going to drag a hose 300 feet) and they have never died. Now, they have turned yellow and gone dormant, but they greened up once the autumn rains hit. They bloomed normally the next spring. Letting them get that dry doesn't appear to have affected them much at all. Most summers there is just enough rain to keep them green and happy anyway.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 8:43PM
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taylmat_OK(z6B Tulsa)

Part shade will just hinder their flowering somewhat. My clump that gets only afternoon sun has dozens of flower heads. There are a few species of daylilly that tend to run rampant. Can't remember which, but a post on the Natives forum was discussing how they were pulling patches of hunrdreds from the woods around their houses.

Maybe you should ask for a trade!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 9:10AM
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My daughter just took a job at Home Depot in Tulsa. She's getting $8 an hour. Still not, much, I know, but just for the sake of accuracy . . . I don't even think about asking for gardening advice from the kids who work at our Lowe's but do like shopping lots of differet places for plants and other gardening stuff, including the local independent gardening places, which tend to have more unusual plants. Best thing is to go into the big box places armed with your own knowledge. Usually if I'm tempted by what I see there, I'll go home and do a little research before actually buying. My favorite place to buy is Atwoods, which is not quite a big box place but is still corporate. Their plants are usually in pretty good shape and are the cheapest in town.

I would love to buy exclusively from our local nurseries, but I can't afford it. Reality of the checkbook.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 10:14AM
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Okay, I didn't read absolutely everything posted on this thread, but I'll throw in my 2 cents anyway.

First of all, I don't even trust the privately owned garden centers and nurseries here. Have you seen what they stock there? I mean, really, some of their things are not suited to Oklahoma, or what I really want.

I recommend that you educate yourself. People on this forum will probably give you the best advice you can get anywhere, based upon personal experience. And even then, I might not be able to grow what OkieDawn grows, and vice versa. Do a lot of research on the net. I've gone to some of the reputable local nurseries, and THEY don't have a clue how to maintain a plant. If they don't know, and no one here knows, you're either an adventurous sort who wants to try something anyway, or something different, and is willing to take the risk, or you want to rely on the "tried and true".

Steve Dobbs' book. It's okay. Nothing to write home about, limited suggestions, limited information. One book cannot do it all. I have tons of books. One of my new favs is a Horticultural Encyclopedia. I have books on insects and diseases, planning guides, organic gardening, expert guides, you name it. I have not found that I could rely on any one source. Another really, really good book is Sharon Lovejoy's, "Trowel and Error" (over 700 shortcuts, tips, and remedies for the gardener). I am always looking for remedies in this book, and it's funny and suited to the down-to-earth gardener.

On the other hand, don't believe everything you read. Especially plant labels. Do you know how many times I have bought the same plant from different sources, and both have different growing suggestions? One will say, "shade", the other "sun". Sometimes it can be grown in sun in the Northern states, but requires part to full shade in the South. That's why I point out research.

Know your plants before you buy. Know your soil before you buy. And, know the areas of your yard you want to plant what where in.

A lot of this, we learn from trial and error. Hey, I make plenty, believe me, mistakes. Some can be rectified, and some can't. Que sera, sera. And remember Tony Avent's words, "I consider a plant perennial until I've killed it at least 3 times."

Gardening is something we can experience, the heart and the soul of nature and a higher power. We can accept that sometimes it will work and sometimes it won't, and feel safe just BEing instead of DOing. Nothing in gardening is hard and fast. Hey, I still can't grow ferns very well, but I'm gonna gosh darn keep trying, and maybe, just maybe, one of these days, I'll witness those curly little fronds unfolding in the spring and go "WOW!"

Was it Robert Frost that said it is better to have traveled than it is to arrive? Boy, that really applies to gardening.

Thank you for reading,


    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 8:48PM
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taylmat_OK(z6B Tulsa)

okprairie, again, I wasn't trying to insult anyone that works there. I think Wal Mart, HD and Lowe's workers need to unite. They could call it the BBSWU (Big Box Store Workers Union?). Point still stands, they hire people who will show up to work, not knowledgeable plant folks.

Susan, if the people at your local nursery don't know plants, find a different nursery! In OKC, I would always shop the same place and always talk to the same people. They knew me and I knew that they knew plants because they proved it time and time again.

Now finding that kind of service up here in Tulsa has been a challenge...

The rest of your post, I agree wholeheartedly with.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 9:05AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The whole "what grows well here" problem extends not only to plant labels, but also to books written for a national audience. When I was newer at gardening, I believed what was in the books. It took me a long time to learn that plants that are touted nationwide as "summer-blooming" will often bloom in the spring here and can't take our summer heat.

So, even though I will buy and read books directed at a general national audience, I rely mainly on books that target Oklahoma, Texas, the south, etc. when researching plants. I love anything put out by Southern Living and Sunset because they focus on plants that MAY grow well here.
I also love all the books written by Sharon Lovejoy, as well as by the late Louise Riotte, who lived and gardened in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

But, like Susan said, due to all the variations in soil, weather, microclimates, etc., even we Okies can't grow the same plants as one another. What grows well for Matt in Owasso may not grow well for Debbie in SW Oklahoma, and what grows well for Susan in OKC in her shady yard with beautifully amended soil won't grow for me in my sunny yard with somewhat amended clay!

The journey to create a landscape/garden is a never-ending one, with lots of bumps along the way.

But isn't it wonderfully rewarding!


    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 9:17AM
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taylmat, I wasn't insulted. My daughter just started working at HD, so who knows what it will be like for her. Just wanted to point out that she's starting at more than $6 an hour. So far she's thrilled to find out that they will pay half her tuition next semester - so there are some benefits. Can't believe I'm defending the big box stores. I will stop now. The Lowe's here in Stillwater irritates the heck out of me, not because of the workers but because they advertise stuff that they don't ever get at this store. Also they aren't really much less expensive than the independent nurseries. I do find that the people who work in our local nurseries have good knowledge of what grows well here - but OSU is here, so there better be some knowledgeable folks around.

Another pet peeve - What's the good of having Oklahoma Proven varieties if none of the local stores carry them?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 10:40AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I was wondering if she was aware of their tuition plan. One of my DH's co-workers has a daughter who worked at HD all through her college years primarily because of their tuition assistance program!

I see I am not the only one who can't find the Oklahoma Proven winners here. I thought maybe it was because I am down here in the boonies near Texas. So, are they hard to find everywhere in Oklahoma? And, if so, I wonder why.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 7:00PM
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Matt, look on the bright side about HD and Lowe's. There was a recent article (I brought this up in another thread) in The Wall Street Journal that Home Depot and Lowe's are going to start hiring a horticulturist and sending their garden staff to school to educate them. The rationale is that they will be better able to compete with the privately owned garden centers and nurseries. I will take a wait and see approach on that angle.

To clarify something, I shop at HD and Lowe's a lot. I have in fact purchased many plants from them. Sometimes they don't know what they really have, but if, as I mentioned, you educate yourself, and become more experienced, you'll snatch up that unique plant there before they realize it's worth $25 instead of $2.50. A few years ago, I bought a new hydrangea hybrid that I found there, called 'Frau Reiko'. It was brand new on the market, and I got it in a gal. pot for $5.00.

I am just so sad that my Warren's has been sold. I shopped there last year (now it's O'Higgins) and bought a few things, but they just don't have the unusual plant collection that Warren's did. Sigh.....

This year, I went to the online retailers to find my oddball plants that I like so much.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 9:38PM
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taylmat_OK(z6B Tulsa)

But Susan, you do realize the reason Warren's is gone is that everyone is now buying plant's from HD and Lowe's for $5 that he was selling for $8. New owners must have decided the only way to compete is offer lots of a limited selection for cheap, just like the big boxes.

It's a Wal Mart world.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 3:00PM
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sarab(z7 OK)

If HD is sending their garden people to some kind of training, what kind of training is it? Are they training them to sell whatever comes in on the trucks? The same stuff that goes to every other HD store? Sorry, I've looked at their plants and just can't get excited.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 9:57PM
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Well, Sara, give it a couple of years for them to come up to snuff. I bought a gorgeous pot of Japanese Blood Grass last weekend at HD.

Matt, as I understood it, the reason that Warren's sold is because old Mr. Warren passed away a couple of years ago. His kids did not want to carry on the business and they sold it. It would have been hard to sell that business because of where it is located, to anyone else but another nurseryman.

I like Markum's, so I'll probably be making my garden forays for different plants over there.

Horn's is a fine nursery, too, but their plants are way overpriced, as is Satterlee's. Satterlee's carries the most unique plants; I'd love to be able to afford one of the Japanese maples; I really want the full moon maple. Wayside sells it for $100.00 in a gallon, but I think I could probably get it there for the same price, and a nicer plant.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 12:41PM
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I've had good luck w/daylillies under two big river birch trees. Lousy clay soil and dappled to full shade. They haven't spread much, but they keep coming back and blooming. I have no idea what kind of daylillies they are, just that they were cheap straggly ones that were on clearance at one of the dreaded big-box stores. I water them when I think about it, and throw something around them every so often (milorganite, or something like that?) If I haven't killed them, they should be okay with you.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 9:19PM
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Man, Plaidthumb, Mother Nature really loves you!
Daylilies are about the best thing you can grow in lousy clay soil, so you are doing fine. Next to daylilies, I've had the best luck with perennial vinca in the clay hole I call a yard. It was so much fun to play in my son's sandy loam today I almost offered to trade yards with him!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 10:48PM
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barton(z6b OK)

Mariposa, taylmat, "all y'all" in the tulsa area:
Try Colebrook nursery in West Tulsa/Berryhill.
My spouse retired and caught the gardening bug. He knew next to nothing. They (the Colebrooks) have taken the time to help him select plants for his shady garden, and have made suggestions for trees for our rocky clay. The plants (trees, shrubs, perennials)I have bought from them have all been healthy and vigorous. I have no motive in promoting the place other than I would like to see them stay around.

I had to laugh about the four-o'clocks. 20 years ago I swore I would never have another one of those, or those sticky nasty cleomes, but I got to missing them and planted some this year. I will live to regret it.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 10:14PM
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Saterlee's was having a 50% off sale yesterday, may still be happening today (May 14).
Might put them in the affordable range

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 9:49AM
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Will have to go by and see what they have that I can't live without. (0:

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 9:53AM
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Hello folks,

I'm back. Had lots of problems getting on this site for some reason. Can't believe it worked today.

How is everyone? Is it too late to plant daylillies?

I've noticed that the vinca we planted three years ago has almost taken over an entire box! The other plant that seems to be actually covering under a tree is the ivy. Can't say I'm complaining about this because that area was UGLY! But I keep hearing that these two are notorious for taking over your yard.

Anyway, can I use some cuttings from both the vinca and ivy to make new plants?

Still clueless but willing to learn, lol

Hi Dawn!!!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 11:12PM
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Hi, Mariposa. I have vinca and ivy, and yes, they do take over. I've kind of allowed that to happen because my yard is huge, and it actually performs as a great mulch for the things I have planted in and among them. Once I decide to tackle them, it will be either with Roundup (I hate chemicals), or black plastic to kill the top growth, and it makes it easier to dig up).

I imagine it is pretty easy to propagate both of these plants. I just use a light mix of perlite, peat moss, and sand. Make sure you cut right at the below the node (where the leaf joins the stem), and take off all leaves except for the top three or so. Put a baggy over it, but make sure it doesn't touch the plant. The purpose is to provide humidity and promote the growth of the roots. You can just root them in water, too, but I would change the water every couple of days. It has also been suggested that rooting them in water in GREEN glass/plastic makes for quicker root growth. I've never tried it, but heard other people say it works. Or you can layer them by burying a stem alongside the main plant, pin it close to the nodes, covering with soil, and waiting until it produces roots before you cut it from the main plant and dig it up to transplant elsewhere.

You can get a bunch of results if you google "propagation" on the net.

Daylilies are so tough, I've planted them late before, and they may not flower for you this year, but they will come back next year for the better. I have a repeat blooming daylily that blooms all summer long, and the old fashioned "tiger lily" (even tho it's not really a lily, but rather a hemerocallis). I also have a couple that have peach blooms on them. I like to extend the season by planting asiatic lilies, oriental, orienpet, martagons, trumpets, and formosanum (blooms late summer to early fall). These lilies are true lilies, whereas the daylilies are not. Lilies are very easy to grow. This year, my orientals are not doing so well because of the cold/hot up and down temperatures we have had. But the asiatics are gorgeous. I have 'Oklahoma City' (orange with yellow centers), a tangerine orange (brilliant), a pink (Muscadet), a pink and yellow (Tom Pouce), and two different whites, a dwarf and tall. Last year was an absolutely wonderful summer for the lilies. This year is questionable.

I had problems with this site yesterday, too. Don't know what was happening.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 8:40PM
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I have orientals for the first time this year and am disappointed that the flowers have such a short bloom period. Is it because of the crazy weather, or is it normal for them to bloom once and then that's it. I actually have orientals and asiatics, and the orientals ( I think) only get one bloom. Is that the way they usually are? The asiatics get more blooms and last longer. They are gorgeous, but I have had lilies as cut flowers that lasted longer.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 10:08AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Mariposa & all you other Okies!

GARDEN WEB: I haven't had any trouble getting on Garden Web, but my son is home from college and I have had trouble getting on the computer! lol Oh well, he's only home for a few weeks and the house sure is much livelier while he is here, even if I have to share computer time with him!

ROOTING CUTTINGS: Susan gave you great advice on rooting cuttings, Mariposa, and I just want to add one small tip to it. Willows are notorious for rooting easily and an old-fashioned way to root other plants more easily is to root them in willow water. If you have access to any kind of willow, cut off a few cuttings from relatively small branches or large twigs. Stick the willow cuttings in a jar or bucket of water and let them sit there a couple of days. After 3 or 4 days remove the willow cuttings from the water, but save the water. Take your ivy or vinca cuttings and then root them in the willow water. They should root faster/better than they would have in ordinary water. I suspect there is a natural "rooting hormone" in willow, similar to the commercial rooting hormones you can purchase. It always works for me. (NOTE: If you don't want to plant those willow cuttings you used to make the willow water, dispose of them in a bag of trash. If you throw them on the ground on or a compost pile, they are likely to root themselves into the ground and begin growing!)

DAYLILIES: And, as for the daylilies...I think they could be planted almost any time and they will grow well enough to survive, even if you pick them up at "end of summer" sales at the nurseries in July or August. They might not bloom until next year, but they will bloom. I have a daylily bed that sits about 300 feet from the house and it gets NO supplemental rain--only what Mother Nature sends it. Some years the foliage will yellow/brown out in July or August and the daylilies go dormant, but they always come back as soon as it rains, and they always rebloom the next year. These are very tough plants. I grow them in unimproved clay and they do just fine. I don't grow many of the other lilies because they need better soil than I have to offer, and I like easy care flowers that bloom for longer periods in our prolonged oven-like summers.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 12:42PM
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My husband and I are in the process of making a hummingbird garden. Any suggestions. We have planted some Azaleas and have some hostas in containers. We were told you have to take the hostas in in the winter. The area is about 20x50. We have made a raised bed for the azaleas and we have some garden ornaments and a stone path. We need more flowers and want them to be easy care and are thinking about a ground cover (not moss). Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 9:49PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hummingbirds love anything with tubular flowers and yummy nectar. There are so very, very many that they like. Here's a few suggestions:

American Cross Vine
Trumpet Creeper Vine (warning--can be very invasive)
Coral Honeysuckle
Morning Glories/Moonflowers
Cypress Vine
Mina Lobata
Cardinal climber

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia sp.)
Mexican Buckeye
Red Buckeye
Red Texas Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)
Halberd-Leaved Hibiscus (Hibiscus laevis)

French hollyhocks, aka Zebrina malva or Althaea Zebrina)
Delphinium, including annual delphiniums which are commonly known as Larkspur
Cardinal Flower
Texas Hummingbird Sage (Salvia coccinea)
Pineapple Sage (S. elegans)
Scarlet Sage (S. splendans)
Gregg's Salvie (S. greggi)
Mexican Petunias (Ruellia sp.)
American Columbine
Indian Paintbrush
Four O'Clocks
Red Hot Poker
Mexican Firebush (Hamelia patens)
Red Yucca

I don't really have a good ground cover suggestion that would also attract hummers. Maybe someone else will think of one that would work for you.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 6:56PM
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sarab(z7 OK)

Are there hostas that are not winter hardy? Mine die back after a freeze but come back like gangbusters in the spring.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:20AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Sara!

Susan (aka Susanlynne48) is our hosta authority so I hope she'll see your question and answer it.

I THINK all hostas are cold-hardy in zone 7, but there are exceptions, and having hostas in above-ground containers could be an exception. I know that even cold-hardy plants can freeze in above-ground containers because the container and its soil provide less insulation to the plants that they would receive if planted in the ground. Some people get around this by moving their containers into a cellar or insulated garage.

Others dig a hole in the ground and sink the containers down into the hole, but...for some people with really rocky soil or really dense clay soil, this might not be practical. In fact, difficult soil could be the reason the hostas are in containers in the first place, although I am seeing more people growing hostas as container plants just because they want to!

Have a great day!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 10:32AM
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flicka_85(z3 MN)

Hummingbirds just flock to my hosta. As for winter hardy hosta there surely are some. I live in central Minnesota and routinely get -30 or -40 in the winter. Hosta is a standard plant here that everybody grows because it is so hardy. I think if it did not freeze and go dormant it would die! My hosta is up and beautiful thought not blooming yet. I have hummingbird feeders in my window so I can see the little hummers all the time.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 9:43AM
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Winter hardy and evergreen are not the same thing.
Many plants that die back and go dormant during the winter further north stay green all year here.
I have roses that seldom lose all their leaves, for instance.
But all of my hosta, which are planted in the ground, go dormant in winter.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 10:15AM
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So much has happened since I last posted here. We had to give up on gardening for awhile, but are back in the swing of things. Learning a bit.

One thing though, we just got through uprooting and destroying the Ivy we planted, so now I need some shade plants (perennials too) and some flowers.

I have planted Zinnias with much luck, Texas Rock Rose which I love, and also geraniums and they are all doing well. My Honeysuckle isn't though :-(

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 7:15PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Mariposa!!!!

I was wondering what had happened to you and if you were still here in Oklahoma and still gardening.

I'm glad to see you are still here and still gardening. :D

So, what kind of shade plants are you thinking of planting? And, what is your honeysuckle's problem? Is it not growing? Has it had powdery mildew issues? Let us know.

Happy Gardening,


    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 7:23PM
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Hi Dawn! Glad you remembered me.

The Honeysuckle we bought from a nursery and have not had too much luck with it. This spring it started off looking good and then ended up with yellow leaves and black spots, kind of like roses do.

I have no idea what type of shade plants to get. I was reading that Hostas attract slugs, YUCK and had lost about six Hostas to some plant eating insect, but maybe it was slugs?

I really want some plants that do more than give ground cover or stay green/white but bloom. Maybe even flowers. Are there perennial Impatients that do well in the shade?

In my herb garden, for the first time I decided to introduce flowers in pots/boxes and I love the look. It's a small garden, so this works for me. I'm a novice gardener, but will still try to post a few pics of what I have planted so far.

Very lucky with Curry Plants, Rosemary, Thymes, Oregano (various types), chives, basil, but no luck with Dill1 It gets eaten before we could get a little bit off.

How is your garden? You must have all sorts of fruits/veggies. We're trying some container tomatoes, lettuce, and beans.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 8:14PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


How could I forget you--you are unforgettable! And, I think you have such a lovely and memorable name too.

Your honeysuckle problem is one common to honeysuckles. If it survives until next year, spray it with a fungicide early in the spring BEFORE the foliar problems occur and that should take care of it.

There aren't any perennial impatiens that I know of, at least not in our climate. Begonias grow incredibly well in the shade, but most of them are annuals. You CAN have hostas without the slugs getting them, though. There is an ORGANIC product that absolutely controls slugs and snails and is non-toxic to pets and other animals and children. The active ingredient is Iron Phosphate, and any of it that is not consumed by the pests will break down into iron which is one of the micronutrients plants need. The original one I bought was called Slug-Go! but there are many others and they usally have the words Non-Toxic or Safe Slug and Snail Killer on their packaging. I'll link one to show you what they look like. I think the one I see most often at Lowe's and Home Depot is made by Safer. You don't want the chemical one which has metaldehyde as an active ingredient--you want the non-toxic iron phosphate. So, you CAN have hostas if you use Slug-go or something similar.

Let me think about shade-loving plants, and I'll post a list for you tonight or tomorrow. There are a LOT of them, though, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how many options there are.

Your herb garden sounds lovely. And, in a way, we are ALL novice gardeners....'cause no matter how much we've grown or how much we think we know, there is always so much more to learn and so many more plants to try. Thomas Jefferson was a gardener long before he became president of the USA, and he grew a huge amount of plants at Monticello. Yet, he said "Though I am an old man, I am but a young gardener." That is one of my favorite garden quotes of all time. Perhaps gardening keeps us all young.

My garden is a jungle. Every year it starts out all nice and neat and tidy. Raised beds. Mulch. Carefully spaced plants. Nicely mulched pathways. At that point it looks spectacular. THEN, summer arrives and the plants seem to think they need to grow three times as fast as they were growing in cooler weather......everything goes wild and I simply lose control. All the veggies and herbs and flowers sprawl and climb and run rampant. The pathways disappear. Plants climb the tomato cages and then climb the fence (9' tall) and then start hanging back down from the top of the fence. Stuff that is near the fence grows out through the fence and stuff I didn't even plant sprouts in beds and, it REALLY is a jungle! I love it! Usually, the jungle starts to thin out a bit once we start exceeding 100 degrees here. Really, though, I find it hard to seize back control until fall. I do love it, but it can get unruly. Whose fault is that? Well, of course it is my fault and nobody else's. I plant three times as many plants in any given bed as I ought to. (In my own defense, though, denser spacing shades the ground and helps keep it about 20 degrees cooler than bare soil.) Also, denser spacing keeps weeds out. So, it is a jungle and I love it, but once it hits the jungle stage, the snakes are a lot harder to see, so I have to be really careful. I have NOT had an extremely close encounter with a rattlesnake or copperhead yet this year, so I am happy about that.

I do hope your container plants grow well for you. Lettuce, you know, is a spring or fall plant as it can't take the summer heat.

Talk to you later,


    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 4:47PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I was in the kitchen making dinner and the thought popped into my head that I didn't link a photo of one of the organic snail and slug baits. Why can't that thought pop into my head BEFORE I post a reply?

So, here's the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of One Kind of Snail and Slug Bait

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 6:10PM
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Dawn, thanks for the link. Is this brand only available online? Oh dear, I didn't realise lettuce shouln't be grown now. My sister lives in Europe and I guess the information she gave to plant now, really applies to a different climate! I wonder if they will do okay in the container? I started them from seeds. So what time do I plant for fall? September?

By the way, is it really true that Marigolds will keep the bugs away? She was telling me to plant them among the other flowers and herbs, but I do have Marigolds near some of my Geraniums and they're not looking too healthy. I haven't figured out what's eating them yet. The leaves look all zig zaggy and are turning brown.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:30AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Slug-Go and similar products are usually available in stores....I just googled to find you a photo so you'd know what to look for. Early in the growing season, I found Slug-Go at Home Depot and I found Slug-Go Plus in a nursery.

The one I've seen in our local Wal-Mart and Lowe's is a different brand--I think it is made by Garden Safe and is a white, aqua and maybe lilac bag. I'll try to find and link a photo of it. Remember, the key is that you want the product whose active ingredient is Iron Phosphate and NOT metaldehyde, which is a very toxic (especially to dogs and cats) chemical.

Marigolds are said to repel insects and I think there is some truth in that, although I do not know if it has ever been proven scientifically. Most years my marigolds (I plant them with my tomato plants) don't have any pest problems. Sometimes, when I first transplant them into the garden, sow bugs and pill bugs eat them, as we discussed in the other marigold thread. For that, I use Slug-Go or Slug-Go Plus.

Sometimes, in very hot weather like we are having now, spider mites get on them. If that happens, I treat them like a trap crop and pull them up and immediately put them into a plastic trash bag and tie it shut so that the spider mites cannot escape. Spider mites are tiny...about the size of a period or the dot on a letter "i" on this page. They tend to cluster on the undersides of the leaves and look like tiny reddish specks of dirt. You can hold a sheet of white paper underneath a plant and shake or "thump" the foliage. If little "dots" fall onto the paper and start crawling around, those are the spider mites. Once you have spider mites, they can get out of hand rather quickly, and that is why I pull up and dispose of the marigolds if they have heavy infestation of spider mites.

The link below shows a larger container of the Garden Safe brand of snail and slug killer that I use for pill bugs and sow bugs. The label on this container resembles the smaller bag of the stuff I bought at Wal-Mart or Lowe's earlier this year.


Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Safe brand of organic snail/slug killer

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 6:36AM
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I also saw some strange looking flies the last few days. Are these harmful? They seem to have a lightish blue wing. Why am I already feeling frustrated about bugs/pests in the garden? I don't know how you guys do this all the time. I guess I thought planting healthy flowers/herbs meant everything would run smoothly. Forgot about that these tiny pests are more in control than we are!

Will look for the slug/snail stuff, and definitely want to go organic.

BTW, we get our yard sprayed by a company for unruly weeds (lawn) but I wonder if this affects the good bugs too? I might have to cancel that and look into something you recommended instead.

Thanks again Dawn. You're a Lifesaver :-)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:29PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mariposa, Almost all flies are good and many of them perform pollination tasks. Also, there are some very small pollinator type bees and wasps that look like flies, but aren't flies. I also think some flies, especially robber flies, are predators that eat pest insects.

The truth about bugs is this.....God made all kinds of bugs and we cannot (and would not want to) make them all go away. Most of the time, the beneficial insects keep the pest insects under control, and the best thing we can do is leave all the bugs alone and let nature work the way it is intended to work. In my opinion, and this is supported by everything I have observed over the decades, pest insects tend to get out of control ONLY when we humans do something to screw up the balance of nature. This includes using broad-spectrum pesticides, chasing away frogs, toads and birds, and either overfertilizing or overwatering plants (or both) which makes them more attaractive to pest insects. So, the more you let your landscape operate naturally, the less trouble you'll have. And, yes, it is hard to do "nothing" even when you know that "nothing" is the best thing to do.

I do not know if there are any scientific studies that show that the use of herbicides affects insect populations. However, if you go organic and are sincerely devoted to an organic program, you will find that healthier practices give you a healthier landscape and biosystem. I try to think of weeds as indicator plants--the kind of weed you have can tell you what is wrong with your soil, for example. Some weeds are dynamic accumulators--their roots reach way, way down deep into the earth and bring up minerals that upper levels of soil are deficient in. Then, when the weed dies and decomposes, that mineral is released into the top soil via the decomposed weed. I believe dandelions are one of the plants that are dynamic accumulators.

I'll use grassburrs as an example of one way that weeds tell you what is wrong with your soil. If you have grassburrs (stickers) in your yard, that is an indication that your soil has a low humus content. You can make those grassburrs go away simply by cutting your lawn with a mulching mower since the grass blades add humus to the lawn as they decompose. Or, you can use a fertilizer spreader to spread very fine compost over the area where you have grassburrs. When we first moved here we had a lot of grassburrs in our front lawn area. As the soil improved, they went away. I didn't do anything, except avoid the use of all chemicals and mow with a mulching mower.

Good luck with your lawn and garden. Gardening is FUN and I try not to stress over things I can't control, mostly because there are such a lot of them! I did find that one part of being organic means you have to be willing to tolerate plants that look less-than-perfect but the trade-off is that you are not poisoning the environment in which you live, and you find yourself surrounded by a lovely array of butterflies, moths, dragonflies, damselflies, birds, toads, frogs, lizards, newts, etc.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 1:06PM
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I have to post a note here about buying from the big places, and whether you can trust their advice. As a previous horticulturist and nurseryperson in CA, I can tell you that it's fine to buy from them, IF you do your research and know what you're getting. We had extreme differences in climate zone in northern CA, and my boss didn't care if the plants would grow for the customers, or simply die. He just wanted to sell plants. It was an enlightening experience! Lowes, Home Depot, and Home Base were all clueless. They wanted to sell whatever they had been shipped by the suppliers. So, DO YOUR READING, and check out great places like this forum for advice from people who DO know, and will give you straight answers. I'm having to learn to garden all over again since moving to OK, and I plan to keep this forum bookmarked!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 11:12PM
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Great information in this forum! I have a few questions for the knowledgable people on here. Forgive me if I am not posting this in the correct place...I'm still trying to figure this out. We just built a house on 3 acres in a new housing adition in SW Oklahoma. Our house is in the middle of the three acres that gently slopt down to a pond. We have a blank canvas to landscape, which is a little overwhelming, but also exciting! We planted sprigs of tifsport grass last year that has covered 70% of the yard, and are ready to start trees, flowerbeds, etc. We have planted 5 trees so far purchased from wal-mart (sorry), 2 American Elms, a crabapple, weeping willow down by the pond, and a calorie pear. I would love suggestions for other fast growing trees, shrubs, ANYTHING that we can start with! We also have a sprinker system for the entire 3 acres off well water. Thank you all so much for any ideas/suggestions!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 9:57PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


If I might, I'd like to make a suggestion for you to consider.

If you don't learn one other fact on this forum, learn this one: almost without exception, fast-growing trees are problem trees. Fast growing basically equals fast-dying. Sorry, but it is true.

It is tempting to plant fast-growing trees because people are, by nature, in a hurry and want to have a more-or-less "instant" landscape, especially with regards to shade trees. However, most fast-growing trees are weak-wooded and tend to break easily in ice storms and severe thunderstorms. They also tend to be very disease-prone and often have little resistance to insect pests. Thus, about the time your fast-growing tree is getting a nice height and you are feeling really pleased with yourself for choosing such a wonderful tree, it starts dying and you have to replace it and start over from scratch.

In the horticultural/gardening world, there is a nickname for fast-growing, weak-wooded, disease-prone trees: we call them "trash trees". So, instead of going for 'fast-growing' trees that will be giving you massive problems in a few short years, it would be better to plant somewhat slower-growing but higher quality trees.

And, there is nothing inherently wrong with buying plants from Wal-Mart, so don't apologize. Just be sure you do your research before you buy and only buy plants that are known to be either native or well-adapted to our state. And, doing your research and knowing what you want is important, whether you are buying from a big box store or a nursery. Most retailers will sell anything people will buy--the majority of them have no idea what grows well here nor do the care. For them, it is a "bonus" if you buy trash trees because they know you'll be back in a few years to buy other trees to replace your fast-growing trees. So, in a sense, it is better for business, in the long term, if they sell you trash trees that will need to be replaced. And, of course, there are some reputable nurseries that do not sell trash trees, but they are rare and become more rare every year. Some nurserymen justify the selling of trash trees by saying they are just giving their customers what they want, but my opinion is that they are taking advantage of new gardeners who don't realize they are buying "trash trees". Trash trees are very profitable for retailers because they can be raised to selling size in a very brief period of time and they guarantee "repeat business" because you'll be buying more trees in a few years to replace them

If you'll tell me where you are in SW Oklahoma, I'll list some quality trees that would grow well in your region of the state. You don't necessarily have to reveal your city, but knowing your county would help. Depending on how far you are to the southwest, trees that would do well for you may be quite different from trees that would do well in northeastern, central and southeastern OK.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 8:49AM
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I have a lovely mixed bed of shrubs, grasses, perinneals, and evergreens all growing happily together. My one main problem is that tree saplings are always volunteering in that bed, invariably in the worse possible spot.
I'm wondering if most of the trouble isn't caused by the two large trees growing in the midst, that had originally started in what was once a hedge row. Or, do some of these volunteers seem to blow in and take root from elsewhere just to annoy me?

I've seen pecan saplings and Norway Maple, but mostly I think the two trees, whatever they are, are the main culprits. I hate to because they do offer some shade, but I may have to have them removed. This year it seems I have these annoying saplings coming up everywhere. They somehow even manage to start up through the dense shade of large evergreen shrubs. Grr city!

Maybe a dense mulch is the way out?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 5:26PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I don't know if you have squirrels, but I do and I blame them for the pecan and oak trees they plant all over the place. Are the two large trees a pecan and a Norway Maple?

The best way I know of to keep the saplings out is to put down a densely-woven landscape fabric OR a layer of cardboard and then pile on heavy mulch. Either the fabric or cardboard keeps anything that sprouts in the ground beneath them from working its way up to the surface, and they keep anything that sprouts in the mulch from sinking roots down into the ground. Mulch in combination with either heavy, thick cardboard or a woven landscape fabric is much more effective than mulch alone in my yard.

If you decide to take out these two trees, you might want to take out one this year and one next year. I am a little concerned that if both come out at the same time, the plants that have been used to shade may get too much sun and not be able to adjust. I sure would try the mulch with a barrier beneath it before I'd sacrifice the shade in this climate though.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 6:58PM
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I have read all the posts here from the past years and I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who contributed. I am out-of-state and I am trying to figure out what to plant for my son's new home in Blanchard, OK. It's a lot of red clay, some hills, and very windy. I have done hours of research, and the best advice I found was contributed by everyone here. THANK YOU!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 5:41PM
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Someone mentioned dusty miller and its survival rate, along with lamb's ears. I found an artemesia in the west that is really tough. It's very low-growing but can spread out several feet, and it will survive killing freezes as well as blazing summer heat. It's called Silver Brocade and is great for anyone who wants a pale, easy-care contrast.
Also, the all-time best honeysuckle I've ever found is called Goldflame. I grew it in the west and have it here in OK and love it in both places. It's vigorous and dense, with a better growth habit than most honeysuckle and it blooms almost continuously from spring clear into November with big colorful blossoms. The only problem I have ever found with it is aphid, and it's easily controlled by a systemic pesticide like Bayers that also feeds the plant.
I was surprised that no-one mentioned perennial hibiscus as being an easy, low care, impressive plant that will take full sun. Other than gophers, we've never had a problem with our hibiscus, but they do like to be watered.
And never overlook the soil that you're working with. If a plant needs good drainage, it will not survive in clay, no matter if all the other conditions are perfect. The wind can destroy a plant in no time at all, so be particularly careful of putting in things that are tall and unable to resist breaking, or that have no defense against it. Sunray coreopsis is a workhorse that blooms all summer long, but needs constant deadheading to keep it going. Some of the perennial salvias do well here and are a nice blue or purple contrast to the brilliant yellow of Sunray. German bearded iris is vigorous and nearly bullet-proof for a novice gardener. Some new ones are repeat bloomers.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 12:01AM
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I am in Tulsa, OK. I want to put a flowering vine near my front porch on an iron trellis. I want a vine I can control with a little pruning, not too abundant so I can keep it out of my eaves. The wall is on the north side of the house facing west. It is in shade all but for the hottest part of the day from around 2 pm till 5pm or so. I am thinking about a Armond Clematis, Star Jasmin, Blackeyed Susan vine or Carolina Jasmine. Any suggestions what vine would be best for this situation? Would bees near the front door be a problem with any of these?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 1:57PM
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MakingGraphic, I'm in Tulsa too and was thinking of doing something similar, but I'm in west side and the front of my house is... I think South facing, and the back of my house is north facing. BUT My porch has a very lovely overhang that puts a good 5-6 feet of space in the shade for the whole day for the most part, with the exception of the morning sun because there's no house on the other side of us to block it (it's blocked by a large fence during late afternoon/evening sun)... So maybe some plants that do better in shade would be good? I just don't want anything that is

1. Easy to kill
2. Requires a LOT of work or pruning
3. Won't get out of control

My landlord's putting the porch swing back up and my idea is to put a nice, sturdy trellis up on the front porch and plant some nice vines and flowers and turn the porch into a little "viewing area" for birds and butterflies since over here we have a LOT of both, so I'd recommendations that are friendly to both, but work well together.... But I am ridiculously new to gardening (most experience being with herbs) and so the "hard to kill" specification is VERY important. I always feel bad every time I kill a plant -___-

I was also really hoping someone has some ideas for more "tropical" and bright flowers I could add in to that section, but most of the tropical plants I like don't do well in our zone because our winters (though they've been pretty mild the last couple years). Anyone know any good substitutes that will come back each year? I'd ask also for recommendations for plants to attract hummingbirds, but I don't think I live in an area that really has them anymore.

It's much easier to ask on here than try to find time to get over to the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens and talk to the people there since even living in Tulsa it's quite a trip for me across town, and I'm without a car right now.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Most vines will require pruning and shaping to keep them from growing too rampantly or they will get out of control. That is their nature and you cannot fight it.

Some clematis vines will grow well in part shade with morning sun. Coral honeysuckle (I have 'Pink Lemonade') will grow well and bloom well with morning sun/afternoon shade, but grows pretty rampantly in good soil and with adequate moisture. It is very attractive to hummingbirds.

In your part of the state, if you have well-drained sandy loam soil, you would have success with passionflower vine which is native in your area and often found in the wild. It is the larval food for gulf fritillary butterflies and if they find it, they will devour it, but it regrows quickly. It doesn't really need much care once it is established, but you'd need to be sure to keep it well-watered if you plant it during a drought year.

You could grow annual vines like morning glories, moonflower vines, cardinal climber, mina lobata, black-eyed susan vine, etc. Generally all you have to do is plant and water them and they do all the rest. They won't hardly die (until frost gets them) and you can't kill them unless you use a herbicide on them or cut them down with a lawnmower or weedeater, and often they come back from the roots. They also commonly reseed so often you only have to plant them once and then they reseed themselves every year.

American Crossvine did well for me in Texas in morning sun and afternoon shade, and has done well for me here in southern OK in full sun and with no irrigation.

I grow lots of trumpet creeper vines for the hummingbirds, but I wouldn't recommend them for a location too near a house because they are rampant growers and would bury a house underneath their vines. I am on acreage, where they can grow as they please in areas away from the house. Near the house, I prune them back to the ground every winter to keep them from completely taking over.

There are not many tropical-looking plants that come back every year since we are not a tropical zone. Cannas come back well in zone 7 in southern OK. I don't know if they do in the Tulsa area. I grow Texas Star hibiscus, which has a very tropical appearance and has come back every year for about a dozen years now, and there are many hardy hibiscus plants that come back reliably. Their large flowers give a tropical look. Daylilies come back and are available in about any color you could want.

Hardy Hibiscus is pretty carefree. You can grow some of them from seed, but others are grown from cuttings. You can buy them in nurseries, though I don't know if you'll find any at this time of the year with it being such an awful drought year. The nurseries here near us had them as recently as late July or early August though. I grow them in shades of white, pink and red. I'll link some photos of hardy hibiscus so you can see them. Most are hardy to zone 5. They freeze to the ground in winter, and sprout in mid- to late-spring depending on when the soil temperatures get warm. Mine were blooming, with very little irrigation, even in July and August though they did stop blooming once the high temps were going above 107-108. Now that the temps here are back in the upper 90s, they are blooming well. They are about the most-topical-looking but cold hardy plant I can think of other than cannas.


Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of Hardy Hibiscus

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 12:11PM
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I have a question: In west Tx I cd grow the ground cover, Ice Plant (Lampranthus) anywhere. It wd spread wonderfully, but I brought some to OKC and they died. I noticed on the list here that the Hardy Ice Plant (Delosperma copperi) grows well on the south and west sides of the house so I've looked for it but to no avail. Do any of y'all grow that successfully and know where I might find some near OKC? Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 5:33PM
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When can I plant a crepe myrtle? In the winter or spring?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 2:13PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

The best time is any time from late fall to early spring, if you can find any to buy and plant at this time of year. Often, the planting stock already has been mostly cleared out of retail outlets by now because they are more focused on selling holiday-related plants like Christmas trees, fresh wreaths and garland, potted amaryllis and paper whites, rosemary plants pruned into a Christmas tree shape, etc.

Crape myrtles are pretty tough and even will tolerate being planted in the hot summer months as long as you are really careful about watering and ensure their recently-transplanted root systems don't dry out. I mention this because some people want a really specific flower color and prefer to pick out their crape myrtles when they are in bloom in the nursery in order to ensure they are getting the exact color of flower they want.

The crape myrtles in our yard already had gone dormant and dropped all their leaves even before last night's sub-freezing temperatures, so any crape myrtle you find to purchase at this time of the year should be dormant as well. That's a good thing because a dormant plant suffers less from transplant shock since it isn't trying to support a canopy of foliage.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 2:50PM
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