If you haven’t already, plant warm-season Bonnie vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash.
Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant are members of the nightshade family. They like similar growing conditions, but should not be planted adjacent to or in succession from year to year because they all are susceptible to the same diseases.
Plant sweet potato slips.
Apartment dwellers with a patio getting at least six hours of sun a day can easily grow peppers in containers.
Gourds may be planted in May.
Repair your lawn by filling in the bare spots by slightly loosening surface of the soil and sow a good quality lawn seed over the area evenly. Tamp the seed in gently and water. Keep the patch moist by covering with light mulch of lawn clippings.
Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs.
Add water lilies to your pond when the water temperature reaches 70 degrees.
May is a good time to divide herbaceous perennials you want to propagate or that are getting too big. Dividing will also help the plant to produce new growth.
Plant a few gladioli corms every week from now until early July for continuous summer cuttings.
Plant container-grown trees and shrubs. Stop planting bare-root trees and shrubs.
Early spring annuals such as pansies and calendulas will soon fade with summer’s heat. Clean out the beds and plant summer-flowering annuals.
Caladium bulbs can be planted anytime this month.
For best results, transplant perennials before they are 6 inches tall, and don’t disturb spring bloomers until fall.
May is not the ideal time for planting new perennials, but they seem to be for sale everywhere. Plan to plant them, but pamper as well. Perennials planted this time of year will require extra watering to help get established.
Apply a high-nitrogen, summer lawn fertilizer to encourage a healthy-looking lawn.
Work lime in the soil around your old-fashioned hydrangeas to produce pink flowers or aluminum sulphate for blue.
Fertilize azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias after they bloom with a fertilizer made for acid-loving plants.
Annuals planted recently should be fed on a monthly basis throughout the spring and summer.
Fertilize bulbs after blooming.
Lightly side dress perennials with an all-purpose, 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Avoid spilling the fertilizer on the plant, and use care not to damage the shallow roots when you cultivate it into the soil.
Fertilize warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine, zoysia, Bermuda and centipede. Stop fertilizing cool-season grasses such as fescue and bluegrass to prevent heat damage.
Many summer-blooming tropical plants such as hibiscus and mandevilla bloom on new growth. Fertilize to encourage more growth and flowers.
Be sure to use fresh potting mix in your containers – old soil has fewer nutrients and may contain harmful bacteria and fungi.
To refresh your understanding of pH: pH refers to the acidity of the soil and is measured by the number of hydrogen ions present in the soil. pH is a logarithmic scale based on the power of 10. For example, a pH of 6.0 is 10 times more acidic than pH of 7.0. Therefore, even a little change in pH can make a big difference. A pH of 7 is neutral, less than 7 is acid and greater than 7 is alkaline. Most plants like a pH between 6.5 and 7.
Fertilize roses monthly with a complete fertilizer or special rose food.
As the growth rate of your houseplants increases with the seasons, adjust your feeding schedule to provide additional food. Feed your plants a good all-purpose houseplant food at half of the manufacturer’s recommended rates, increasing the proportion slightly to accommodate growth spurts. Overuse of fertilizers can cause root and foliage burn, as well as the death of the plant.
Got mums? From now until the beginning of July, you can make chrysanthemums bushier and more productive if you pinch one-half inch off of each stem when they’re 6 or 7 inches high.
Promptly remove spent flowers from any plant unless your intent is to harvest the seeds. It consumes the plant’s energy to produce the seeds and, in many species of plants (especially annuals), removing the dead flowers will promote further blooms.
Prune out any frost damage on evergreen shrubs.
Remove any reverted green shoots on variegated (leaves with two colors) evergreens to prevent them reverting to a single color.
Take softwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs such as forsythia and hydrangea.
Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs soon after they bloom. Since they begin setting next year’s flower buds in late summer, it’s important to have them pruned and fertilized before then.
Lightly prune evergreens, making sure not to cut back to bare branches.
Deadhead perennials and bulbs throughout the blooming season.
Remove any sucker growths from fruit trees as soon as they appear.
Pines and other conifers can be kept to a compact size by pinching off the new growth "candles."
Complete pruning of climbing roses to insure a good supply of new wood for next year’s flower formation.
When you prune, pinch and trim, try rooting the cuttings to make more plants.
Trim hedges (check for nesting birds first).
Collect rainwater in a rain barrel for irrigation.
Make sure lawns and gardens receive an inch of water per week.
Hand water new transplants until they become established.
Water your lawn in the morning to discourage fungus diseases.
Mulching around the base of your plants will help them to retain moisture around the roots.
Address insect, disease and weed problems as soon as you spot them.
Labels provide directions on how to mix, apply, store and dispose of a pesticide product. Always read and obey labels on crop protectants and herbicides.
Slugs and snails are out in full force right now. Be sure to take steps to control them now, before they have a chance to reproduce and devastate your garden.
Continue to watch for thrips, red spider mite, caterpillars, white fly, leaf rollers and scale.
Be on the lookout for lace bugs and aphids this month.
Examine conifers for the egg sacs of bagworms and remove before the eggs hatch.
Keep a vigilant eye on the roses. Continue to spray for black spot and mildew control. Also keep them sprayed for aphids and other pests.
Hoe regularly between rows on hot days to make sure the weeds dry up and die.
Molehills are often a problem in spring and traps are the most effective way to deal with this problem.
The first flowers you’ll see will be your weeds. Work to eliminate the weeds (roots and all), before they have a chance to go to seed, or you will be fighting them for years to come!
This is the time to eliminate lawn weeds by hand pulling, or the application of a "weed and feed" fertilizer ... before they go to seed!
Control weeds to reduce competition for water and nutrients.
Don’t let vines get out of control – remove or cut them back while they’re manageable.
Carefully examine your houseplants for pests and problems. It is much easier to fight an insect infestation or disease in its early stages than to wait ....
Take photos of blooming plants you enjoy and put them in your garden journal so you’ll know what to buy for your own garden!
Keep up with the vegetable harvest to encourage your plants to continue producing.
If you haven’t already, put your houseplants outdoors on a shady porch so they can enjoy the summer heat while protected from strong sun and wind. You can also bury potted houseplants up to the rim in planting beds to add texture.
Check to see if your houseplants are root bound. Water them thoroughly and carefully remove them from their pots. If the roots have compacted around the outside of the root ball, it is time to repot.
Clean pond filters.
For maximum flavor, don’t let zucchini get more than 8 inches long.
Give your clay and plastic pots a boost on sunny patios. Elevate pots onto boards to lessen the damaging effects on plants from heat radiated off the hot concrete.
Mulching is a garden maintenance chore that only needs to be done once a season. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch is usually a good measure of how much mulch to spread. A good time to mulch is soon after planting, but it can be done anytime. Mulching is important for a couple of reasons. Mulching reduces the needed amount of weeding and helps the earth retain water so you’ll need to water the garden less frequently. It also gradually breaks down and provides nutrients to the soil.
Put supports in place now for tall herbaceous plants or those with heavy blooms before they are too tall.
The compost pile should be getting a lot of use these days, both in utilizing this prime garden resource and adding fresh garden refuse to it. The compost pile should be kept damp. Frequent turning will turn your garden waste into plant food much faster.
Work rain-compacted soil around plants and flower beds to provide aeration. Use shallow cultivation to prevent root damage.
Remember, birds are still nesting. Keep the feeder full!