Monday, May 2, 2011

FAQ: What garden tasks should I be doing in May?

Gardening is a continuous process of sowing, transplanting, dividing, pruning, fertilizing, irrigating, protecting, mulching, mowing, weeding, composting and fixing things.

Here are a few gardening tasks for May organized by region.

Northeast States: It's still possible to have late frost. Plant bare-root perennials, trees, shrubs. Continue planting and transplanting cold-hardy plants outdoors. Sow or transplant warm-season vegetables and herbs, but be ready to protect them from cold. Summer- and fall-blooming perennials can be divided. Prune shrubs and trees. Remove spent flower stalks from spring bulbs, but leave the foliage intact. Trim winter-damaged ground covers to 6 inch height. Lightly fertilize perennials as they emerge. Continue spring cleanup. Begin watering if the season is dry.

Mid-Atlantic States: It's still possible to have late frost. Plant bare-root and container-grown perennials, potted roses, cool-season vegetable sets, annuals and strawberries in outdoor beds. Sow warm-season vegetables and herbs outdoors. Summer- and fall-blooming perennials can be divided and transplanted. Prune trees, summer- and fall-blooming shrubs. Remove spent flower stalks from spring bulbs, but leave the foliage intact. Trim winter-damaged ground covers to 6 inch height. Lightly fertilize perennials. Continue rose care. Fertilize shrubs, annuals and container gardens every 10 to 14 days. Mulch trees and shrubs to conserve moisture. Mow lawn regularly.

Mid-South States: Frost is still possible. Continue planting trees and shrubs and container gardens. Sow vegetable and herb seeds in the garden. Transplant vegetable and herbs outdoors. Finish pruning spring-blooming trees and shrubs. Continue to remove spent flower stalks from spring bulbs, but leave the foliage intact. Lightly fertilize annuals and vegetable seedlings. Fertilize spring bulbs when flowering is complete. Continue spraying fruit trees. Apply mulch to newly planted plants. Continue rose care. Install sod. Mow lawn regularly.

Lower South and Gulf States: Continue to plant container-grown trees and shrubs. Continue to divide and transplant perennials. Continue to plant container gardens. Sow warm-season annuals, vegetables and herbs. Transplant warm-season vegetable and herb seedlings. Shear spring-blooming trees and shrubs now that flowering is complete. Shear conifers and evergreen shrubs. Pinch planted mums to delay bloom. Remove spent flower stalks from spring bulbs, but leave the foliage intact. Fertilize camellias, azaleas, annuals, container gardens, summer bulbs, fruit trees. Spray fruit trees with insecticide and fungicide. Continue rose care. Plant warm-season grass seed and install sod if you can irrigate regularly.

Plains and Rocky Mountain States: It's still possible to have late frost. If you have flats of growing warm-season annuals and vegetables, transplant them into larger containers. Transplant summer bulbs from containers to the garden. Continue planting and transplanting cold-hardy plants outdoors. Summer- and fall-blooming perennials can be divided. Prune shrubs and trees. Remove spent flower stalks from spring bulbs, but leave the foliage intact. Trim winter-damaged ground covers to 6 inch height. Lightly fertilize perennials as they emerge. Complete spring cleanup, if you haven't already. Continue rose care. Thin vegetables in the garden.

Pacific Southwest and Desert States: Continue planting trees, shrubs, summer bulbs, annuals and vegetable sets. Divide summer- and fall-blooming perennials. Sow vegetable, annual and herb seeds. Shear conifers. Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs since bloom is complete. Remove spent flower stalks from spring bulbs, but leave the foliage intact. Fertilize azaleas, camellias, summer bulbs, vegetables, fruit trees, annuals, container gardens (including house plants). Continue rose care. Sow grass seed or install sod. Continue lawn care.

Pacific Northwest States: It's still possible to have late frost. Plant shrubs, trees, summer bulbs. Plant annuals, warm-season vegetables and herb sets, and sow warm-season annuals, vegetables and herb seeds, but be prepared to protect if late frost arrives. Divide crowded perennials. Shear evergreen shrubs and conifers. Prune spring-flowering plants when bloom is complete. Remove spent flower stalks from spring bulbs, but leave the foliage intact. Fertilize azaleas, camellias when bloom is complete. Fertilize fruit trees, container gardens, annuals, vegetables and herbs. Continue rose care. Mulch trees, shrubs and vegetables.

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