Cool season plantings are beginning to decline but that does not mean gardening is over. You have the whole great warm season to look forward to. Actually you might call this the hot season as the heat and humidity locally, may only be tolerable by some of the more tropical-like plants.
Do check out our what to plant selections but also add a lot of the plants we often think of for foliage. Some like the spathiphyllum and anthurium do well in the shady landscape during the summer. There is also the dwarf variegated schefflera - this has become a real hit and survived some brutal cold too. And don't for get all the great gingers. These all do best with moist soils that the summer season should be able to provide.
Another group of plants you just have to grow is the begonias. We all know the wax begonias but there are many more. If you think back many gardeners grew the cane types like the angel wing begonia selections years ago -- well they are still available. There are also big leaf, colorful leaf and fancy leaf types of many species and varieties to pick from. They will start showing up in garden centers too.
Now is also the time to stock up on seeds. Most garden centers give their seeds back to the suppliers in June. So if you want seeds for summer sowing stock up on the packets now. A good supply often does not return until fall or even winter. If you don't purchase the seeds locally you will have to order stocks in and pay shipping.
Late spring and summer is a fun time when hopefully you won't have to worry too much about watering as the rainy season arrives. Still, keep an eye out for the dry spots. These may benefit from some aeration before the next watering or if flower beds work in lots of organic matter before you replant.
Now there is a lot to do so plan to work in the early morning or late afternoon hours so check out my list of Gotta Do's.
- Check for chinch bugs in yellowing areas of St. Augustine; treat at needed
- Some areas of lawns may have died during the winter; add new sod or plugs.
- May is a good month to seed bahia lawns.
- Avoid mowing with dull blades; sharpen frequently.
- Drier weather is here; irrigate lawns when wilting is noted and on permitted watering days.
- Rake out brown leaf blades from winter.
- Finish spring feedings with fertilizers that slowly release nutrients to the lawn.
- Check for local rules that restrict lawn feedings to certain times of the year.
- Unclog sprinkler heads and adjust to ensure proper watering.
- May is the last of the better sodding months until fall for shady areas.
- Measure leaf blades to make sure the lawn it being cut at the proper height.
- Dig out or spot kill weeds and replace with plugs of grass or sod.
- Apply an iron only fertilizer to regreen yellow lawns.
- Check the soil under declining spots for plump white grubs and treat as needed.
- Add Easter lilies and poinsettias to the landscape.
- Add tulips, hyacinths and other forced bulbs to the compost pile and keep the container.
- Complete the removal of winter damaged plant portions.
- Reshape plants beginning new growth after winter damage.
- Palms may need months to recover; severely damaged shrubs should begin growth soon.
- Have older trees checked prior to hurricane season.
- Look for sap stained bark, hollow areas and twin trunks as signs of tree problems.
- Train young shade trees to have one central leader with evenly spaced branches.
- Maintain a mulch layer over tree and shrub roots to help conserve moisture.
- Install and use microsprinklers to water trees and shrubs.
- Older shade trees seldom need special feedings.
- Select plants for pool and patio areas that do not drop messy flowers or foliage.
- Feed palms with an 8-2-12 or similar slow release palm fertilizer according to label.
- Trim faded flowers from annuals to encourage new blooms.
- Create shady gardens with low light requiring flowers, shrubs, bulbs and foliage plants.
- Fertilize all flower beds and shrub plantings as the rainy season returns.
- Complete pruning of azaleas and camellias.
- Feed container gardens weekly or use a slow release fertilizer as labeled.
- Feed water lilies and lotus monthly.
- Begin rooting cuttings of favorite shrubs and perennials.
Vegetable and fruit plantings:
- It's too late for most tomatoes, peppers and eggplants; select summer tolerant vegetables.
- Maintain a mulch in the garden and use microsprinklers or soaker hoses to conserve water.
- Keep bananas and papaya moist and feed monthly to have flowers by late summer.
- Give citrus, grapes and other fruits a late spring feeding.
- Trellis vining crops to save space and prevent diseases.
- Feed vegetable plantings monthly.
- Establish soil solarization treatments to control nematodes and diseases.
- Incorporate compost with planting sites to improve sandy soils.
- Purchase seeds now for later plantings; seeds are often removed from stores during summer.
Vegetables: Calabaza, chayote, cherry tomato, collards, dasheen, lima bean, snap bean, Malabar spinach, malanga, New Zealand spinach, okra, hot pepper, roselle, Seminole pumpkin, Southern pea, sweet potato, tamarillo, yam and yard-long bean.
Flowers: Angelonia, balsam, begonias, black-eyed-Susan, blue daze, bromeliads, browallia, bush daisy, butterfly weed, cat's whiskers, celosia, coleus, coreopsis, crossandra, Dahlberg daisy, gaillardia, gazania, gerbera, goldenrod, gomphrena, impatiens, liatris, marigolds, melampodium, moon vine, nicotiana, nierembergia, pentas, periwinkle, Porter weed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, sunflowers, torenia, verbena and zinnias.
Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, cardamom, chives, coriander, dill, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, sweet marjoram, mint, tarragon and thyme.
Bulbs: Achimenes, agapanthus, blood lilies, bulbine, caladiums, calla lilies, cannas, crinums, day lilies, eucharis lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lilies, peacock ginger, society garlic, spider lilies and rain lilies.