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Garden Tasks for May

The Earth Laughs in Flowers
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • Plant remaining annuals when danger of frost has passed.

  • Weed, water, and fertilize with "Miracle Gro" as-needed.

  • Watch for signs of pests and diseases.

  • Apply mulch around established plantings.

Vegetables and Herbs

  • Plant hardy herbs.  Start basil inside.

  • Continue succession plantings of fast-growing plants, such as cilantro.

  • Thin seedlings in planting rows and eat thinnings as baby greens.

  • Transplant seedlings of cucumbers, melons, squash, and peppers.

  • Water with a high-phosphate fertilizer like "Tomato Tone".

  • Weed and water as-needed.

  • Plant corn, beans, and pumpkins.

Patio and Container Plants

  • Monitor plants daily for water needs and pest control.

  • Pinch back straggly growth & deadhead.

  • Replace spring bulbs with summer-blooming plants.

  • Watch for signs of insects/diseases, discarding diseased plants and removing insects by hand.  Use insecticides as a last resort.

  • Add "Osmocote" slow-release fertilizer.


  • Apply "Tree Tone" fertilizer to blooming shrubs to encourage extra flowers.

  • Prune tent caterpillar nests from trees and destroy nests.

  • Prune suckers from bases of all trees.

  • Prune water sprouts from crabapples and other small trees.


  • Apply granular complete fertilizer, such as "Rosetone", to encourage extra flowers.

  • Watch for mildew and aphids; spray with rose & garden insect spray as necessary.

  • Water weekly in dry weather, applying one inch of water and taking care not to wet foliage.

  • Plant shallow-rooted annuals, like portulacas, as ‘living’ mulch in rose beds.


  • Keep seedlings short and stocky by providing high light intensity.

  • Warm soil by applying plastic mulch to tomato beds.

  • Fertilize with "Miracle Gro" or "Tomato Tone".

  • Be prepared to protect from late frosts.  By month’s end weather risks should be minimal.

Perennials and Bulbs

  • Apply mulch.

  • Water, weed, and fertilize with "Plant Tone" as-needed.

  • Deadhead/cut back perennials after flowering to promote plant vigor and re-bloom.

  • Continue deadheading spent bulb plant blooms to prevent seed formation.  Do not cut foliage on bulbs; let dry out and yellow naturally.

  • Watch for signs of pests and diseases.


  • Fertilize with "Greenview 2-Way Weed & Feed" to stimulate growth and eliminate crabgrass and weeds.

  • Apply a lawn weed killer for dandelions and other hard-to-kill weeds.

  • Establish regular mowing schedule.  Never cut more than 1/3 of the blade of grass.

  • Watch for signs of fungus and diseases.

  • Watch for insect damage from cutworms, grubs, ants, and clover mites.

  • Established lawns: give 1 inch water/week with one deep soaking if weather is dry.

Adapted from Reader's Digest "1001 Hints and Tips for your Garden," 1998.