May: Gardening Activities

Our Average Daily High Temp for May is 68°F

The Lupine Blooms Bring the Seasons First Butterflies and HummingbirdsThere may be no better days in the garden than those in May. It’s alive with color and verdant with fresh spring shades of foliage. The sweltering days of summer have yet to arrive, so most activities in the May garden are pure pleasure.

Mother’s Day is a general rule of thumb for a safe date to plant things that would be harmed by frost or freezing. In most years, we don’t receive a frost after this date, but be prepared to cover tender annuals or early-blooming shrubs, just in case.

Garden centers are at their busiest so don’t delay in visiting them and purchasing your plants. The best and healthiest plants will be the ones that get chosen first. Garden Crossings makes it easy for you to shop, if you can’t manage to find the time to buy locally. You can browse online, choose your plants and have them delivered right to your door!

Warm-season vegetables can be planted now, as well as summer annuals and bulbs such as caladiums, dahlias, and gladiolus. The temperature of the soil needs to be above 50° for them to germinate and grow well. If you aren’t sure, you can stick a thermometer into the soil about four inches deep and check.

Now is a perfect time to edge the flower beds. Grass has a way of creeping its way into the garden, where spring rains have softened the soil, but this is also what makes it easy to remove.

Once the spring-flowering shrubs have finished blooming, you can safely prune them. These include lilacs and forsythia, which set flower buds in the fall. If you wait too long into the season to prune them, you may inadvertently cut next year’s flowers away, since the flower buds may have already formed.

It’s likely that you’ll be mowing the lawn for the first time in May. Add the grass clippings to your compost pile. Grass adds that important green component the helps the compost heat up, facilitating decomposition.

If you’ve got some bare or dead spots in your lawn, now is the time to prepare them for reseeding. The ground should have dried enough from the spring rains that you can work the surface up a little and sow grass seed. This will give it a chance to get a good start before the hot and dry days of summer arrive. Be sure to keep the area moist, but not soggy, as grass seedlings emerge.
You can begin to pinch back the growth tips of annuals and perennials to encourage fuller growth and more blooms. Never remove more than the top third of the stems. Continue to do this throughout the summer. In the case of asters and chrysanthemums, stop pinching by the 4th of July to allow them enough time to set flower buds for fall blooming.

If you spray fruit-bearing trees and plants, refrain from doing it while they’re in bloom to protect pollinators such as bees. Evening may be the best time.


Be prepared to cover early bloomers in case of a late frost.
For the best plants, visit your garden center early.
Plant warm-season vegetables and summer bulbs.
Edge the flower beds while the soil is soft.
Prune spring-blooming shrubs once they’ve finished flowering.
Add the grass clippings from your lawn to the compost pile.
Reseed bare spots in the lawn, or seed a new one, before the heat of summer sets in.
Pinch back growth tips of annuals and perennials for bushier plants and more blooms.
Avoid spraying fruit trees during the day when pollinators will be busiest.

Watering Info:

During the month of May watch to make sure your plants do not need additional water. Most plants are starting to actively grow and will need an increasing amount of water.
Don’t forget to give newly planted plants more water during the first week after they are planted.
Most people kill their baskets or planters in the first few weeks after purchasing them because they forget to water them.

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