Monday, May 2, 2011

May Calendar

Keep your gift plants indoors until the nights are consistently warm. 
Prune forsythia and other spring- flowering shrubs whenever the blooms are finished.  
If the soil is not sticky, sow seeds of hardy vegetables and flowers. Make sure night temperatures are steady at or above 55F.

You might be able to keep pansies blooming through early July by picking off the dead blossoms so that seeds will not form.  If they are planted in a shady spot for part of the day, they will bloom even longer.
If you are growing lavender, prune it back hard to encourage new growth.
Cut back Russian sage, leaving just six to twelve inches of woody growth.  Pinch out the tips of new growth to encourage a bushier form.
If you see ants on peony buds, leave them in peace; they are harmless.

Peonies ready for disbudding

If you want bigger peonies or roses, now is the time to disbud.  You will have fewer flowers, but bigger individual blooms.  Leave the terminal bud, but pinch off the side buds just below it to limit the number of flowers.
Nights are still too cool to move houseplants out of doors, but you may move tropicals outside if night temperatures are steady at or above 55F.
As pansies die out, replace them with edging lobelia or sweet alyssum.
When lilacs bloom you can plant dahlias out of doors.
Weeds will soon start to overtake flowers.  Don’t pull them out of dry soil; water the garden first.
Order summer-blooming bulbs this month.
Spring gardens are peaking now –- public and private.  Visit as many as you can and take notes. 

Peonies disbudded for maximum bloom

All pinching and disbudding of perennials should be completed by now.
You may set out container plants, but if a late frost is predicted be prepared to cover them with a protective cloth.  It’s best to be patient and wait until Memorial Day.
Seeds of perennials and biennials for next year’s bloom may be sown now through August.
It’s time to sow annual seeds directly in the soil.
Put peony rings in place before it is too late. There’s a moment at which you can longer do this without damaging the plant.
Cut the deadwood from climbing roses.
Start planting perennials and herbs.                                                             
May is the month for woodland wildflowers. Take a walk in the woods    
and make notes about what you would like to see in your own shady 

Start transplanting seedlings. Work on a rainy or shady day if you can.  If not, water frequently and protect them from the sun. 
Ring clematis with lime and dig it into the soil.
Mark the locations for next years’ spring flowering bulbs by placing plant markers.  Don’t cut bulb foliage down until it yellows.
Order bulb catalogs, if they have not yet arrived.  
White lilac

Consider the lilac. Observe as many as you can, then make your choice.  The hybrids are gorgeous, but my favorite remains Syringa vulgaris, the common lilac.
Continue planting perennials and herbs.
Where spring bulbs have left gaps, sow seeds of zinnia, cosmos and cleome.
Water everything well.  If we don’t have a good rain every seven to ten    
days water planted beds slowly to a depth of at least an inch.
Buy a rain gauge and set it out in the open.  It will save endless                 

Move houseplants outside to their summer camp – a nice spot in the          

Songbirds will have returned by now.  Help them build their nests by        
leaving six- to eight-inch pieces of string on the branches of shrubs or  
lying on the ground along with dead twig ends and they will be collected 

This is the time to look carefully at the Bearded Iris and identify the ones  
 you would like to order.  Better yet, find a friend who is ready to divide.

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