What to do in the garden in May

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What to do in May - Beautiful vegetable garden

The soil is still warming and it’s time to get things in the ground. Wear a hat when you head outdoors and don’t forget the sunscreen.

It can be difficult to know exactly where to start when everything demands your attention, but here are a few reminders:

  • Transplant tender annuals like marigolds, petunias and zinnias when nights are consistently above 55 F. (13 C.).
  • Plant tender bulbs like lilies, dahlias and glads if the soil is warm and dry. For a long stretch of blooms, plant a few bulbs every few weeks until June.
  • Get cucumbers in the ground when the soil is at least 70 F. (21 C.).
  • Keep row covers and hot caps handy in case of an unexpected cold snap.

What to do in May - New plants in garden

  • Plant starts of cool weather vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, leeks, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
  • Plant new fruit trees.
  • Feed mature fruit trees, using a good quality orchard fertilizer.
  • Edge along pathways and flower beds.
  • Plant new shrubs.
  • Deadhead primroses and pansies. If they’ve finished blooming for the season, replace them with warm weather plants.
  • Stake tall perennials while they are still relatively small.
  • Watch for slugs. If necessary, apply slug bait (non-toxic varieties are available), or use a homemade slug trap such as a little beer in a lid.
  • It may be time for a second planting of radishes, lettuces, beets or carrots.
  • Plant beans in mid-May. For a staggered crop, plant a short row every two weeks.
  • Prune flowering shrubs like lilac, forsythia, viburnum and quince as soon as they finish blooming

What to do in May - Watering vegetable garden

  • Fertilize pachysandra, ivy and vinca minor. Thin plants in thick areas and move small transplants to fill in thin spots.
  • Train climbing roses on a trellis, fence or pergola.
  • Trim boxwood shrubs. Save the cuttings to propagate new plants.
  • Feed tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and other bulbs to help them form flowers for next year.
  • Aerate warm season lawns like zoysia or Bermuda grass.
  • Repot rootbound houseplants.