UPDATE: This In the Garden, monthly guide for May, has been updated with new gardening tasks and scheduled plantings for 2017.
Thinking about starting a new hobby? Maybe grow a bit of your own food or flower this year? Get growing and going with this post from the archives, Preparing Your (New or Existing) Garden.
May, glorious May! This is the month that all your hard work begins to pay off. I've had dinners of spring greens, and green garlic, and sweet peas with caramelized onions. I've snacked on every cabbage imaginable, and sauerkraut was last weekend's project. Looks as if tomatoes and peppers and squash will be showing up at markets and on the table this month, so I'll add homemade pasta to the list of weekly kitchen to-dos for late Spring, which also include making mayonnaise, pesto, fresh french bread and herbed focaccia that will all highlight May's harvest. (I'll also be leading small classes for those tasks, so keep an eye open for tomorrow's updated Calendar of Events.)
In the Garden: May
Monthly Gardening To-Do list
Collect seeds from spring flowers when the seed heads are brown. Clean them, dry them for a week or so, and then store in airtight containers or baggies in a cool spot.
Continue planting summer annuals like celosias, cosmos, pentas, angelonia, sunflowers, globe amaranths, and zinnias to attract butterflies and bees this summer. Pentas and Salvia coccineas brighten up partly shady areas and attract butterflies.
Lightly prune spring blooming plants to clean them up. Don’t do heavy pruning at this time.
Put out shallow bowls of water to attract toads. Small dishes filled with decomposed granite make good puddling spots for butterflies. Make your own hummingbird nectar for feeders with 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Dissolve well. Be sure to change and clean your feeders on a regular basis.
Do clean birdbaths and other water bowls every few days to fend off mosquitoes and to keep the water cool and clean for your wildlife friends.
If fire ants are a problem, use fresh spinosad-based bait and an orange oil drench directly on the mounds.
Water: Water annuals as needed. Mulch all bare soil to retain moisture.
Transplant: Container-grown plants can go into the ground now.
Lawn Care: Mow every 5-7 days, leaving the clippings on the lawn. Keep St. Augustine grass at 2 1/2" to 3" height. Apply 1/2’ to 1" of water as needed to wet soil thoroughly. Don’t water more often than every five days.
Diseases/Pests to look out for: Check for aphids and spider mites. Look for tobacco hornworms, spider mites and stink bugs, especially in vegetable gardens. Spray peach and plum trees for curculio weevils. Spray blackspot-susceptible roses with fungicide every 7-10 days.
Prune: Prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees after they bloom. Prune climbing roses and other "once bloomers" as soon as they finish flowering. Divide chrysanthemums and pinch tips for bushier growth. Pinch back leggy annuals to encourage branching. Deadhead plants to encourage blooming. Prune frost-damaged trees and shrubs. Remove sucker shoots from tomato plants to get earlier, larger fruit.
Things To Plant In May:
Ageratum, ajuga, amaranthus, balsam, begonia, blue dze, blue cardinal flower, boltonio, scarlet bouvardia, calico plant, chocolate plant, cigar plant, cockscomb, coleus, columbine, copper plant, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia, daisy, feverfew, geranium, gomphrena, hibiscus, hollyhock, impatiens, jacobinia, lantana, marigold, nierembergia, penta, periwinkle, persian shield, plumbago, phlox, portulaca, purslane, purple coneflower ,rudbeckia, salvia, sedum, stokes' aster, sunflower, wishbone flower, yarrow, zinnia.
Ageratum, balsam, castor bean, celosia, cleome, cockscomb, coleus, coral vine, cosmos, cypress vine, dahlia, echinacea, feverfew, four-o'clock, globe amaranth, gourd, impatiens, linaria, nasturtium marigold, moonflower, morning glory, periwinkle, petunia, pinks, portulaca, scabiosa, sinflower, sweet pea, tithonia, torenia, vinca, zinnia.
Acidanthera, amarcrinum, amaryllis, caladium, canna, giner, daylily, gladiolus, liriope, monkey grass, neomarica
Amaranth, Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke), Jicama, Malabar Spinach, Okra, Southern Pea, Peanut, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Tomatillo, Watermelon.
Anise, basil, bay, borage, bouncing bet, caraway, catnip, chives, comfrey, costmary, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, scented geranium, germander, horehound, horseradish, lamb's ear, lavender, lemon grass, lemon verbena, mexican mint marigold, monarda, oregano, perilla, rosemary, sage, santolina, summer savory, winter savory, sesame, sorrel, southernwood, tansy, tarragon, thyme, wormwood, yarrow
Container-grown plants can go in the ground.
Stay cool out there, friends!
For more tips, visit Central Texas Gardner for a wealth of information for Zone 8 gardens, and the Farmers Almanac, for weather forecasts, moon calendar and much, much more.
Additional sources: Garden Guide for Austin Vicinity, Travis County Master Gardener Association, 2002.