Weekend Gardening: Tips For The Month Of May

May 18, 2019

The Escambia County Master Gardeners offer the following May lawn and garden tips:

  • Continue planting summer annuals. Try one or two that you’ve never grown and/or one that is not available in stores as transplants.
  • Plant heat-resistant summer flowering annuals such as begonias, impatiens, coleus, salvia, marigolds, torenia, verbena, ornamental peppers and gaillardia.
  • Bulbs: Caladium, gladiolus.
  • Vegetables: Continue planting warm weather seeds and transplants (Shade those transplants!). Use transplants for cherry tomatoes, eggplant and sweet potatoes. Plant seeds of lima beans, okra, southern peas: purple hull, crowder, etc.
  • Prune and shape spring flowering shrubs and trees now. Later pruning may destroy next year’s blooms.
  • Good cultural practices help maintain a healthy lawn and discourage insects and disease. Mow with a sharp blade. Centipedegrass should be cut to a height of 1½ to 2 inches. St. Augustinegrass normal growth habit cultivars should be cut to a height of 3 to 4 inches.
  • Climbing roses are pruned after they finish blooming. Blooms form on one-year-old canes, so any older ones may be removed to make them more tidy. Cut each flowering stem back to the first five leaflet stem to encourage them to bloom again.Spray with horticultural oil or malathion for mites, scale and white flies, if insects are present, before it gets too hot (85 degrees).
  • Yellow leaves on azaleas may mean they need iron. Apply iron sulphate or chelated iron.
  • Feed citrus plants using special citrus fertilizer. Broadcast under the tree canopy and water in.
  • Begin planting palms while the weather is warm and rainy.
  • Make cuttings of azaleas, hollies, camellias, and other choice shrubs as new growth becomes half hardened.
  • Take soft wood cuttings to root: alyssum, begonia, chrysanthemum, shrimp plant, dianthus, geranium, hibiscus, hydrangea, etc.
  • Dig bulbs after foliage turns brown if they need to be divided or the space is needed for other plants. If the space isn’t needed, braid the foliage.
  • Cut back the vines of Irish potatoes when they begin to die but leave the tubers in the ground for about two weeks longer to toughen the skin. Handle the potatoes carefully during digging, as skinned or bruised potatoes decay quickly when stored.
  • Divide crowded and vigorously growing perennials.
  • Promote continued flowering of bedding plants by removing faded blooms.
  • Encourage coleus to branch and produce more colorful leaves by pinching off the flower stalks as they form.
  • Prune poinsettias when new growth is 10-12 inches high (back to the last four leaves). Prune new growth at the base throughout the summer.
  • Stop pruning after Labor Day.
  • Keep roses watered, cut out weak spots, feed every six to eight weeks or at every new flush of growth, dust.
  • For insect or disease problems in your garden, use the least toxic control possible.


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