May Gardening Activities - Region 5

Gardening Tips for May

Rocky Mountain and California Mountain Gardens

Learn2Grow Region 5 Map

States in the region:

Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, California (Mountains)

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!
  • Beware of late frosts! Know the safe planting date for your area before planting any warm-season flowers and vegetables. (This can be 3-4 weeks after the last anticipated frost for your area.) If you’ve already got your garden planted, be prepared to protect plants from unexpected frosts and freezes.
  • 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!
  • Plant tender tropical bulbs like cannas and elephant ears outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Short on ground space? Plant tropicals in containers for enjoyment on decks and patios.
  • Fertilize roses according to label directions for sturdier, healthier plants and blooms.
  • Care for the perennial border. Now is the time to fertilize and divide your fall-blooming perennials.
  • Harvest spinach, lettuce, peas, radishes and other cool-season crops as they mature. When those crops are finished, reuse the planting area for warm-season veggies to guarantee a continual harvest.
  • 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!
  • 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?
  • Stake vining vegetables and taller flowering plants before they start to flop. Use flexible ties to hold plants gently in place – don’t tighten them around stems like a tourniquet.
  • Stake peonies as new growth arrives to prevent those plants from flopping as well.
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs (if you haven’t already) before the heat of summer arrives.
  • Pinch back hardy mums every two weeks from now to the 4th of July. Remove one-third of the new growth each time to encourage bushier, tighter plants.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you haven’t started to fertilize houseplants for the season, start now.
  • Prune evergreens that need pruning now through the Fourth of July. Late season pruning (after July 4th) can stimulate new growth that won’t harden off before winter.
  • Care for your spring lawn. Mow weekly to keep grass healthy. Recycle clippings back on the lawn – don’t bag them.
  • If you’re doing any late spring landscaping before the searing heat of summer, consider fireproofing your property by employing some simple principles: firescape for safety.
  • Planting any cactus in your desert garden? Here are some pointers for planting your spiky friends.
  • 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!