Tuesday’s Tips — May Gardening

Mary Beth and I are crazy-busy in our gardens and in our clients’ gardens. To make things a little more challenging it’s also prime time for garden writing and we’re both a little overwhelmed right now. We’ll leave you with a few helpful tips to tide us over until we can catch our breath.


  • It’s time to take a walk through your garden to see what needs to be done. Do some of your shrubs need to be moved? Make a note of where the holes are and plan to get to the nursery for a few new additions to the garden. The next few weeks are when you’ll find the best selection of annuals, perennials and trees in your local nursery.
  • Weather on the East Coast and the Rocky Mountains is still all over the place, use your best judgement when putting new plants in the garden. It’s best to harden them off by keeping plants in a protected place and waiting towards the end of May before planting tender and semi-hardy plants, especially in the Rocky Mountains where the evenings are still quite cold. Don’t be fooled by the spectacular days peppered in here and there.
  • Dahlias, gladiolas and other summer flowering bulbs can be planted this month. (It’s a little late for this in SoCal, but if you do it right away you should still be ok.)
  • In SoCal it is time to get your tomatoes going. Plant your favorites and add one or two new varieties. Who knows, you may come up with a new favorite!

Feeding and Pruning

  • Lilacs should be fed in May. Work some lime into the soil if your soil is acidic.
  • For hydrangeas work lime into the soil for pink blooms. Blue blooms are a little more difficult to achieve organically. It is a years’ long process. Start by fertilizing with aged cow manure which tends to be acidic and mulch with oak leaves, pine needles, or other acidic organic materials. (Seems like a good post topic. We’ll research and get back to you with more info soon.)
  • Dead head daffodils and tulips, but don’t cut back leaves until they have started to die back.
  • Divide overgrown perennials, share a few with a friend.
  • In SoCal it’s time to feed citrus, avocados, and flower beds. And don’t forget your containers. All that lush spring growth needs food!
  • Keep pinching back fuchsias.
  • Prune azaleas, camellias, and other winter and spring-flowering shrubs, vines, and trees after they finish flowering.
  • Keep deadheading roses to encourage more blooms.
Enjoy this glorious season and all the beautiful flowers it brings.

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