Guide: May Gardening To-Do List
May is quickly approaching and with it comes a new gardening season. There’s plenty to do this month to ensure your garden is in top shape for new plantings. We’ve come up with a to-do this you can follow to keep yourself busy in the garden this month.
- Plant summer bulbs. Dahlias, gladiolus, canna, tuberous begonias, calla lilies, and caladiums can all be planted now for summer color. By now, your spring bulbs have finished flowering, so clip anyway any dead flower stalks. Be sure to leave the foliage to let it die back naturally. This allows the plant to build up strength for next year’s blooms.
- Plant shade perennials. If you need a swath of color in your shady area, look to perennials such as hosta and heuchera (coral bells). Both of these come in a vast variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, so you can play around with different combinations.
- Prune early-flowering shrubs. This month, expect to see color from your rhododendrons, azaleas, and lilacs. Their bloom periods are (unfortunately) mostly short, so once they’re done flowering, prune them to shape them. Don’t wait longer than 3 or 4 weeks after they flower to prune; by then, they’ll have set buds for next year’s flowers and pruning them late will remove those buds.
- Mulch. Mulching helps to keep your garden healthy by preserving soil moisture during hot months, keeping the soil cool, and keeping weeds from taking over. Plus, as old mulch decays, it provides quick, organic matter to your soil.
- Plant a butterfly garden. Perennials such as coneflower, black-eyed Susan, salvia, phlox, butterfly bush, and dianthus will all attract butterflies to your garden. Annuals will as well! Try zinnias, cosmos, pentas, and lantana.
- Plant tomatoes. Tomato season is just around the corner! You can start tomatoes from seeds inside about 6 to 8 weeks before the frost ends (usually mid-late May; 2019 has an expected last frost date of May 13th). These heat-loving fruits grow best when overnight temperatures remain above 50 degrees and all danger of frost has passed. When you transplant them outside, make sure they’re in a very sunny location.
- Decorate with hanging baskets. Each year, Nunan’s grows thousands of hanging baskets with all different varieties and combinations of annuals. Geraniums, verbena, petunias, million bells, and combination hangers will all be available to help you decorate your porch or patio fast.
- Re-pot your houseplants. Now that the weather is warming, your houseplants will be coming out of their winter dormancy. Make sure to re-pot any plants that need it into a pot that’s 1 to 2 inches larger than its current one. A plant that has grown too large for its container is called “root-bound” or “pot-bound”, meaning the roots have overgrown so much that they have no way to expand. A sign of a pot-bound plant is little to no water retention; water drains out the bottom of the pot seconds after being poured in. Not enough soil remains in the pot to hold in moisture. You should also, at this time, begin fertilizing regularly again to give your houseplants a beneficial boost.
- Take care of shrubs and trees. Use an acidic fertilizer on your azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and evergreens to give them a leg-up for the growing season. For roses and other deciduous trees and shrubs, use an all purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer. Water thoroughly after applying. Lilacs should be pruned lightly after flowering later this month and fertilized with all-purpose plant food.
- Don’t forget the lawn. May is a great month to repair any bare patches in your lawn. Re-seed with Scott’s grass seed and water it in thoroughly. You can also take care of grubs if you have them, before they mutate into their final beetle stage. Read up on our special grub blog here [INSERT LINK] for information on these lawn pests.