Plants & Products

Monthly Tips

May
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Annuals and Perennials

Plant colorful annuals and perennials to hide fading bulb foliage. Sweet potato vine, coleus, alternanthera, caladium and many other annual and tropical plants with dramatic, colorful foliage will brighten up your yard. Begonias, coleus, geraniums, lantana, marigolds, petunias and vinca are just a few of the many wonderful annuals for your garden.

Group flowers together to create an eye-catching splash of color that is easier for the butterflies to discover.

Perennials that bloom in May include peonies, salvia, poppies, columbine, coral bells, and foam flower.

Now is the time to plant tuberous begonias, Elephant ears, gladiolus and canna bulbs directly into the soil.

Fertilize annuals and perennials in both container gardens and landscape beds with Merrifield Flowering Plant Food to keep them growing and blooming.

Fruits and Vegetables

When the risk of frost has passed, it is time to plant warm season vegetables and herbs including beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and basil. Now is also the time to plant strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. If you are limited on space, consider planting compact varieties for small gardens or container growing.

Prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers by mixing a bit of compost and lime into the soil prior to planting. This is especially important if you are growing in containers.

Place fruit trees on a regular spray program to prevent insect and disease problems. Speak with our plant specialists at the plant clinic for details.

Fertilize fruits and vegetables with Garden-tone or Fish emulsion.

Houseplants

Move houseplants to the deck or patio after Mother’s Day and enjoy them outdoors for the summer. It is best to gradually introduce them to more direct sunlight to prevent the leaves from being burned.

Feed houseplants with a good quality indoor plant food such as Jack’s Classic (water-soluble powder) or Osmocote (slow-release granular).

If needed, re-pot root bound houseplants to a larger pot. It’s best to use containers that are one to two inches larger than the current pot and have a hole in the bottom to allow excess water to escape.

Lawns

Be on the lookout for grubs in your lawn. If you discover a problem (10 or more grubs per sq. ft.) this can be treated with Bayer Complete Insect Killer to eradicate and prevent grubs for up to three months.

Time to apply a weed control to the lawn, if necessary, to kill actively growing weeds. Use Bonide Weed Beater Ultra or Speed Zone.

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs that provide color in the month of May include azaleas, Kousa dogwoods, Japanese snowbell, fringe tree, spirea, sweetbay magnolias, weigela, oakleaf hydrangeas, rhododendrons and viburnum. Visit the nursery and see these beautiful plants in bloom.

If you see damage from Azalea lacebug, boxwood leaf miner or psyllid, systemic insecticides such as Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Insect Control, or Bonide Systemic Insect Control can be used to control these pests.

The best time to prune azaleas is right after the flowers have faded. Thin out vigorous, over grown branches to stimulate new growth from the interior of the plants. You can also rejuvenate old, leggy azaleas with more aggressive pruning. Fertilize with Merrifield Flowering Plant Food or Holly-tone to support healthy growth and flowering for next year.

See our complete guide to pruning azaleas and rhododendron.

Roses begin to flower this month. Check them regularly for insect and disease pests and spray with Bonide Rose Shield or Neem Oil, an organic option, as needed.

View our guide to selecting and caring for roses. 

Seasonal Care

Window boxes, hanging baskets and planters need to be watered and fertilized more frequently than plants that are growing in the ground this season. Try adding Soil Moist, a water-grabbing polymer, to reduce the frequency with which you will need to water your container plants.

Check all plants, especially newly planted ones, for water on a regular basis. Water deeply and thoroughly as needed.

Review our watering instructions to ensure your plants stay healthy and hydrated.

Gator bags provide a great way to keep trees watered during hot and dry months. These bags, which can hold up to 20 gallons of water, are secured to the trunk of the tree, where they release the water slowly to the root ball over the course of 15-20 hours.