Tips for creating and maintaining a beautiful garden in the month of May
Time for celebrations—Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, graduation and summer are just a few reasons to rejoice! Plant a perennial shrub or tree to honor or remember your loved ones this month. ‘Knock Out’ rose is a beautiful, continuous blooming, trouble-free shrub-type rose that will be enjoyed year after year. Potted miniature roses, lilies, hydrangeas and azaleas also make extra-long-lasting gifts if you plant them in the garden after they have finished blooming indoors.
• Now that evening temperatures are consistently warm, you can move your indoor plants outside for the summer. Acclimate them by placing them outdoors for brief periods, gradually increasing the time over a period of several days or even a week.
• Do you see shiny trails on the petals and leaves of your ornamentals in the morning? If so, slugs are on the prowl at night—Capture them by placing grapefruit-rind halves among your plants. Position rinds with the peel-side up, and slugs will collect underneath.
• Lawns maintained at the correct height are less likely to have disease and weed infestation. Recommended heights: tall fescue—2-3”, centipede—1-1 ½”, Bermuda and zoysia— ½ -1 ½”. Mow frequently, removing no more than one-third of the blade at each cutting and “grass-cycle”—Allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn. The clippings decompose rapidly and add valuable nutrients to the soil.
• Pinch chrysanthemums now for bushier plants in the fall.
• Petunias, salvia and other annuals will bloom beautifully with a few timely pinches: Pinch at planting time and again the first or second week of July to 3-4” above ground. Feed annuals monthly with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Be sure to deadhead for maximum flowers.
What to Plant
• This is a good month to plant heat-loving herbs like basil and dill. Harvest most herbs before flower buds open for best flavor.
• It’s safe to plant hot weather vegetables such as beans, sweet corn, melons, squash and sweet potatoes now. Mulch and water after planting.
• For best results, wait until late May or June to sod warm-season lawns. Apply a second application of fertilizer to warm-season grasses (Bermuda, zoysia and centipede.)
• The ground will be warm enough by mid-May for caladiums, dahlias, gladiolus and cannas. If you stagger the planting of gladiolus, you’ll enjoy a longer show of flowers.
• You can achieve vertical impact in your garden with annual vines such as moonflower, hyacinth bean and scarlet runnerbean. Plant seeds near a fence or trellis—Moonflower is striking when flowers open after dark!
• Protect newly transplanted vegetable plants from cutworms by constructing collars for them. Cut 2-by-8-inch strips of cardboard, staple into circles and place around the plants. Push the collar about 1 inch into the soil—The plants’ stems will be protected from cutworm damage by these mini “fences.”
Mary Kay Woodworth is executive director of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA). She previously ran Practically Gardening, a landscape consulting firm, and was Master Gardener Coordinator for the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service. Mary Kay is a frequent speaker at area schools, garden clubs, civic organizations and trade shows. [email protected]