What's a Gardener to Do?
One tiny little virus has about shut down our Country but not gardening. Actually gardening is booming. Seed companies have become overwhelmed with orders and garden centers are packed with customers. This surge should have been expected as every time there is a downturn in the economy residents turn to gardening.
Now be careful what information you obtain and follow to get your garden and landscape back into shape. It may be hard to believe but we are at the end of our gardening season. Take a look at our what to plant guide. All the cool season crops are gone and many of the warm season ones are missing or minimal. Take for instance tomatoes. Only if you can obtain big plants with fruits would they be a good buy. Also, cherry tomatoes are normally productive at this time of the year. Otherwise, tomatoes do not set their fruits during hot weather. We normally do not replant until mid August.
Note in the list of To Do's, this may be the last month to fertilize your lawn due to local rules - So get it done. You may also have to control pests like sod webworms and chinch bugs. Ask your garden center horticulturist about the best product to use.
One insecticide for sod webworms often unknown to gardeners and sold as a grub control is Chlorantraniliprole. Few are going to recognize it by this chemical name but it is available for home lawn use at garden centers as Scotts GrubEx. Commercial lawn care companies recognize this product as Acelepryn. The insecticide has very low human and domestic animal toxicity and does not even need the word "Caution" the lowest toxicity signal word on the label. If applied according to label instructions before or at first signs of sod webworms, it could provide season-long control.
During this period of down time why not work on the landscape? Now is a good time to remove dead or declining plants and add new shrubs, ground covers and perennials. Also, refill planters of any type in the landscape. Do note we are heading into the very hot weather. My go to color for summer includes. Caladiums, coleus and pentas but there is much more in our May list.
- If your lawn is not green it may be due to a forgotten feeding; fertilize now.
- Previously fertilized lawns may only need an iron or minor nutrient application to stay green.
- This may be the last month to feed your lawn before fall due to local ordinances.
- Early May is still a good time to install new lawns or fill in bare spots.
- Apply a lawn fungicide after sodding new lawns to reduce turf decline due to diseases.
- Now is the time to seed new lawns or fill bare spots as seasonal rains help with the watering.
- Take time to have a soil acidity test made and if needed adjust the pH.
- Chinch bugs may cause yellow to brown areas in St. Augustine lawns - treat as needed.
- Avoid mowing with dull blades; sharpen frequently.
- Take a new route at each mowing to avoid ruts in the lawn.
- 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.
- Avoid using herbicide during hot weather to prevent turf damage.
- Keep shrubs, ground covers and perennials growing with a late spring feeding.
- Prune azaleas to reduce plant size and thin out older wood before the end of June.
- Camellias only get a light grooming at this time as many have started to form flower buds.
- Prune bougainvillea when they stop blooming and before mid summer.
- Avoid shearing shrubs and perennials; remove out of bounds shoots with hand pruners.
- Replace declining spring flowers with summer survivors.
- Consider theme gardens of one flower color or plant type.
- Foliage plants from the home make great additions to shady landscape sites.
- Add fresh soil to planters and improve sandy sites with organic matter before planting.
- Prune palms; only remove brown fronds and old flower portions.
- Feed palms with an 8-2-12 or similar slow release palm fertilizer according to label.
- Move orchids to shady landscape spots and feed every other week with a liquid fertilizer.
- Repot orchids and bromeliads overflowing their containers.
- Prune poinsettias; then cut them back 4 inches every time they produce a foot of new growth.
- Add slow release fertilizers to container plantings to reduce the number of feedings needed.
- Mealy bugs & scale insects are seasonal pests; control with insecticidal soaps or oils.
- Have older trees checked prior to hurricane season.
- 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.
- Create shady gardens with low light requiring flowers, shrubs, bulbs and foliage plants.
- Fertilize flower beds at least once a month or use a slow release fertilizer according to label
- Feed water lilies and lotus monthly.
- Begin rooting cuttings of favorite shrubs and perennials.
- There is still time for a few of the quick growing warm season crops in early May.
- Good growing conditions are over for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant until August.
- Tropical vegetables like hot damp weather; starts can be found at grocery stores.
- Grow your own sweet potato transplants for the garden in water or pots of soil.
- May is the last month for good herb growth; many decline due to heat and humidity.
- Give citrus, grapes and other fruits a late spring feeding.
- Apply a minor nutrient spray and control psyllids as citrus trees begin new growth.
- Groom fruiting trees and shrubs as needed to maintain the proper shape and size.
- Maintain a mulch in the garden and use microsprinklers or soaker hoses to conserve water.
- Produce good figs by feeding lightly monthly, keeping the soil moist and using a mulch.
- Keep bananas and papaya moist and feed monthly to have flowers by late summer.
- Prune blackberries and blueberries when fruiting is over.
- Make sure blueberry plantings have an acid soil.
- Trellis vining crops to save space and prevent diseases.
- Feed vegetable plantings monthly or use a slow release fertilizer as labeled.
- Establish soil solarization treatments while it's hot to control nematodes and diseases.
Foliage & Houseplants:
- Give foliage plants a rest outdoors in shade or filtered sun during warm weather.
- Repot plants that have outgrown their containers.
- Select a container an inch or two larger in diameter and use a good potting soil.
- Divide over grown dish gardens and give each plant its own container.
- Reshape taller tree form foliage plants and remove declining limbs.
- Divide African violets, bromeliads and orchids.
- Wash pests and dust away with soapy water.
- Feed outdoor foliage plants monthly or use a slow release fertilizer.
- It's best to toss tulips and other forced cool season bulbs; these are very difficult to rebloom.
- Plant Easter lilies in the ground after blooming for a repeat performance next year.
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.
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.
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.