The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 6, 2010

Location, mulch good for plants

ENID — The summer heat can cause damage to many plants in the garden.

But Louise Milacek, a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners, said knowing where to plant is half the battle.

“The key thing is to select the right plant for the right site,” Milacek said. “(With) the shade-loving plants, you have to have them in the shade. Some plants, they like the sun and will do really good in the Oklahoma heat.”

Almost as important as selecting the right plants for the right location is making sure those plants are mulched properly.

A good mulch keeps moisture in near the root area and keeps plants and flowers strong and healthy.

Jeff Bedwell, Garfield County Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service ag educator, said there are many mulches that work, including plastic coverings that blanket the ground and help prevent weeds from poking through the soil.

Weeds can steal moisture away from the plants you want to grow.

Mulches made of loose bark or chipped wood can work well, Bedwell said.

But the best mulch might be wheat straw.

“Good, clean wheat straw is hard to beat,” Bedwell said. “It helps reduce temperatures around plants.”

One thing Bedwell cautions against using is grass clippings for mulch.

“Oftentimes there is some seed in those,” he said. “It can pack in and restrict air flow.”

Milacek also said hay or straw is good to put down around flowers and plants, including vegetables.

While it is important for plants to get enough water in the summer, Bedwell warned not to saturate the plants’ roots with water; just provide them with uniform, moist soil and shade if they require it.

If you have tomatoes, Bedwell said, one good thing to do is use a light cloth to cover the plants during the heat of the day.

“A temporary shade during the heat of the day can help continue good fruit set,” he said.ꆱ

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