WRAP UP FROM LAST MONTH
- Bare-roots plants: Last minute, you may find a bare-roots plant you’d love to see in your yard. That happens, and it’s absolutely fine as long as you plant it soon. Bare-roots plants may still see growth at this late date, but container-grown plants will have a better chance of thriving for the rest of the year.
- Weeding: April showers bring May flowers…and weeds. While rainy season is still in effect, rid your yard of weeds most easily while the soil is still wet. Thankfully, this necessary evil can then do some good. Small weeds that haven’t seeded yet can go straight into the compost bin, where they can be recycled into material that’s actually beneficial to your yard.
- Compost pile: Although you may already be composting, it’s wise to give some thought as to where the pile should be located. Find a spot that’s shaded from the sun. If you have an idea of where you might expand your planting area next season, put your pile there so that it can nourish the soil in the meantime.
DO NOW: MAY GARDENING TIPS
- Frost: In early May, plants are unfortunately still vulnerable to frost. At this time, choose varieties hearty enough to withstand lower temperatures. Examples include snapdragons, sweet alyssum, pansy, or fragrant flowering stock.
- Mothers’ Day: May 10th is Mothers’ Day this year! Reward your mom for everything she’s done for you by gifting her with a vibrant hanging basket. Again, frost is still a danger but annuals like fuchsia and bacopa can take the cold, lasting long enough for your mom to get as much enjoyment out of them as possible.
- Entryway containers: Since the weather will still get cool now and again, and you won’t be outside all of the time, fill outdoor containers near entryways with flowers and herbs. Hues that complement the façade of your home are ideal.
- Herbs: The spring is a great season for food. Mix up your mealtime routine with fresh herbs from your garden. Pots of herbs are not only attractive, their leaves add natural flavor to warm-weather dishes. If you love herbs native to dry climates, recreate their Mediterranean habitats by placing them in porous containers like unglazed terra-cotta pots. Herbs that benefit from this treatment include rosemary, thyme, and lavender.
- Stakes: Stakes can help prop up weaker plants that have trouble standing up on their own. Peonies, heliopsis, dahlias, and asters are varieties that can use a little help in this area. It can get windy this time of year so any plant that could be affected would benefit from being staked down.
- Transplanting: Modest transplanting projects can take place right now but the heat requires extra care. Young plants are especially vulnerable when moved in the heat. To protect them, use outdoor furniture as shelter after they’ve been moved so that they can slowly get used to their new home. Major transplant project should wait until fall, when the temperature has dropped.
PREPARING FOR NEXT MONTH
- Prune shrubs: By the end of the month, many spring shrubs will have stopped flowering. Maintain their health for the rest of the season by doing some pruning. Older branches can be cut to the ground. Longer branches should be trimmed back. Finally, remove broken branches, as well as branches growing diagonally.
- Dividing perennials: Even though it’s still spring, flowers that bloom later in the year could use some attention right now. Before your plants get to be six inches tall, divide summer- and fall-flowering perennials. Doing so will encourage more blossoms in the future, even if they’ve lain dormant in the past.
- Inspiration: Spring is a wonderful month for visiting gardens, parks, and arboretums. Bring a camera and notepad so that you can record the layouts that inspire you. Take these creative ideas back to your own garden.