May is an important month to get your summer garden established. Its an ideal month to plant everything you want in your garden before hot temperatures set in. The following are some suggestions for your May garden.
- Keep an eye on watering everything which is newly planted. It doesn’t take much for new little transplants to dry out and die before they have a chance to get established. Check everyday for adequate moisture until plants take-off and start to grow.
- Be sure to mow you lawn at the correct height. For turf-type fescues and bluegrass, have your mowing height to 2 ½ “. The higher you cut your lawn the deeper the roots will grow helping it survive dry spells. Do not lime or fertilize your fescue or bluegrass lawns until late summer.
- Deadhead or prune back spent flowers on your perennials. This will manicure your garden and can stimulate reblooming of delphinum and columbine as well as other perennials.
- You can selectively prune spring-flowering shrubs such as azalea, forsythia, weigela, lilac, beauty bush, and mockorange to control their growth or improve their shape as well as increase their bloom next year.
- May is strawberry-picking month. Stock up on ice cream and whipped cream.
- Fertilize strawberry plants after their fruit has been harvested with 2 lbs. of 10-10-10 per 100 sq. ft.
- Spray fruit trees and grapes early in the month with preventative fungicides. Do not use insecticides until all blooms have disappeared so not to harm the natural bee population.
- May is the month for iris and peonies. Enjoy their cutflowers in vases in your home.
- Thin (pick off) excess fruits from apple, pear and peach trees to a ratio of one fruit per 6-8 inches of branch.
- Stake tall growing perennials such as foxglove and true lilies to prevent them from lodging.
- If your peonies fail to flower this month, it could be that they are planted too deep. They should be planted 2" deep and receive at least 6 hrs. of sunlight.
- Direct seed sunflowers in your garden and stagger their planting by every week or two through July so you have flowers until frost.
- As the days get hotter and your pansies show stress, remove them and replace with summer annuals.
- When planting summer annuals, consider pinching and removing the flowers to stimulate branching and the production of many more flowers.
- Be sure to train new vines onto trellis or posts with the aid of twine. Plastic twine should be used to support the weight of the vine throughout the growing season.
- Don’t forget to apply pre-emergent herbicides such as Preen to newly planted flower and vegetable gardens to prevent weeds. Be sure to follow label directions.
- Stalks of bearded, Siberian, and Japanese iris should be removed as flower fade.
- If you have had a grub problem or other insects in your lawn, now is an ideal time to apply either a grub-controlling insecticide or one labeled for the insects you want to control.