May is a busy and beautiful time in the garden. Here are tasks and tips to keep you busy this month.
Prune azaleas shortly after they bloom.
Plant your summer kitchen garden with warm-season vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, beans. Water newly planted garden beds well, and keep them moist as seeds sprout.
Foliage left from spring-flowering bulbs – daffodils, tulips and so forth – can be cut down if it has turned brown.
If you need to prune azaleas, do it now; don’t wait any longer, or you risk cutting off next year’s flowers, which will begin to form soon.
Set out bedding plants of favorite summer annuals: petunias, begonias, annual salvia, cleome, cosmos, celosia, snapdragon, zinnia.
Find a comfortable spot for houseplants that will spend summer outdoors, protected from too-harsh sun and strong wind and rain.
Dig and divide hellebores
Use mulch in perennial and annual beds and borders to keep weeds in check, and to retain moisture in the soil.
A cluster of aphids on tender new growth of plants can be washed away with a strong spray of water from the hose.
Container gardens dry out quickly in hot weather, so if your “garden” is a collection of pots on the deck or balcony, they need to be watered frequently.
Divide hellebores. Dig up as much of the root ball as possible and gently separate the roots. Replant right away, or share with friends (reminding them to plant as soon as possible).
When you mow, set the mower to cut high, removing only about a third of the height of the grass to keep it healthy. Don’t shear the lawn.
Cut spring flowers to enjoy indoors.
There will always be unwanted plants (sometimes known as weeds). Pull or dig them out of garden beds when they are small, but especially before they form seeds. Weeds are easier to root out after watering or after a rain, when the soil is moist. Annual weeds that haven’t gone to seed can be tossed into the compost.
As summer approaches, make sure spring-planted trees and shrubs continue to get enough moisture. Provide about an inch of water a week — by hose or sprinkler if it doesn’t rain.
Enjoy the late spring bounty of flowers indoors. To help them last longer, cut flowers and foliage early in the morning and place them in water right away.
Grass clippings make good mulch, but allow them to decay before you use them on beds and borders.
Watch for spider mites on roses and other shrubs if the weather turns hot and dry. A strong spray of water on the undersides of leaves every few days can keep them under control.
Thyme and other herbs are at their peak just before they bloom.
Many herbs are at their peak just before they bloom. Harvest them to use fresh, or preserve them by drying or freezing to use later.
As perennials flower and fade, cut the dying blooms. This will encourage the plant to bloom longer.
Divide irises after they finish blooming. Cut the leaves to about five inches, then lift the tubers with a spading fork. Separate the rhizomes and cut off damaged portions, then replant the rhizomes close to the soil surface.
Hummingbirds are welcome summer guests in the garden, visiting flowers and nectar feeders. If you provide feeders, change the nectar every day or two and clean the feeder thoroughly. Standard nectar recipe: 1 part sugar to 4 parts water; boil for five minutes, and allow it to cool before filling the feeder. No red food coloring needed.
Filed under: Grow a Garden, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tagged: flowering plants, insects, mulch, spring planting, watering, weeding | Leave a comment »