May Gardening Activities - Region 4
Gardening Tips for May
Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Gardens
States in the region:
Maryland, Delware, DC, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina
Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Texas (Eastern)
Oklahoma (Eastern), Arkansas and Tennessee
Key Issues for May
- Grow your own edibles and teach your children, grandchildren and other young sprouts where their food comes from through Growums®. The delightful Growums characters will help you every step of the way toward delicious success and FUN!
- Be on the lookout for signs of cutworm damage. If your young annual or vegetable transplants have suddenly toppled over just at the soil line, you may have received this pest’s calling card. Frequent cultivation around plants – digging lightly around your planting beds – is an effective way of exposing cutworm larvae.
- Prepare your houseplants for an outdoor retreat: If you haven’t already, repot plants that are container-bound. Once nighttime temperatures stay consistently above 55 degrees F and all danger of frost has passed in your area, put houseplants outside on the deck, patio or balcony for their summer vacation.
- Maintain adequate soil moisture for any recently sown grass seed. If your new or existing lawn doesn’t receive an inch of rainfall each week, water the lawn via sprinkler.
- Send your tired-looking cool-season annuals that are well-past their prime to a homemade compost pile.
- Replace those cool-season plants with some of these heat-loving beauties:
- Dahlias are wonderful ever-blooming, warm-season bedding plants perfect for cutting. Flowers come in a wide range of colors, forms and sizes.
- Marigolds are easy-to-grow, highly aromatic and attract butterflies. The single, double or semi-double flowers are often bicolored and come in orange, red or yellow.
- Mexican heather is a tropical subshrub that can grow 8-24 inches tall. It has shiny, dark green, fine-textured leaves and light purple, pink or white flowers.
- Put away the saltshaker and spice up your cooking with summer-loving herbs. Cilantro is an essential ingredient in international cuisine. [Rosemary] (/plants/rosmarinus-officinalis/) is great for recipe seasoning, infusing oils and spicing up potpourri. And what would many of our favorite foods be without basil?
- Pinch back hardy mums every two weeks from now through the 4th of July. Remove one-third of the new growth each time to encourage bushier, tighter plants.
- Prune blooming shrubs like azaleas, rhododendrons and lilacs immediately after flowering.
- Water newly planted trees and shrubs well. Irrigating deeply encourages deep root systems and healthy growth habits – essentials for plant survival now and when the hot weather arrives.
- Plan and plant a cutflower garden for summer, filled with beautiful blooms to enjoy throughout the season and into the fall – indoors, as well as out!
- Remember that gardening is for kids, too! Encourage your budding little sprouts to spend time out in the garden with you. Plant sunflowers together, and enjoy a great learning experience!
- Block unsightly utility boxes or pond equipment with an attractive screen design featuring flowering shrubs and other pretty screening plants. It’s a great way to boost the look of your yard, as well as provide some privacy.
- Make way for more vegetables or flowers in your garden with raised beds. They help conserve water, avoid possible drainage problems and give you an area to grow plants in fresh, nourishing soil. Another plus: You don’t need to be a master carpenter to build your own!
- Grow summer squash: Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and water well. Cover the area with a floating fabric, allowing sunlight through while protecting sprouting plants from various insects. When the plants start blooming (in about a month), uncover them to allow pollinators to fertilize the flowers.
- Allow the foliage of spring-flowering bulbs – like crocus, tulips and daffodils – to store energy for next year by yellowing and drying before you cut the leaves back.
- If you haven’t started to fertilize houseplants for the season, start now.
- Add a simple water garden to your landscape. Small ponds add interest and enjoyment for years to come. (And they’re less work than you might think.) No matter how large or small your feature, always carefully watch your children and pets around water!
- Add mulch to your planted landscape beds and borders to cool the soil, reduce weeds and help conserve needed soil moisture. A few inches are all that’s needed.
- Do your best to keep plant disease problems out of your garden this year – especially apple scab, powdery mildew and botrytis blight. Understanding the basics of the “disease triangle” can help you have a healthier garden in 2012!