May 2013 To-Do List: Lower South

Susan Wells

As May’s temperatures rise, planting slows down, other than seeding and transplanting the real heat lovers, such as zinnia, okra, beans and corn. Bring your houseplants out doors and sink their pots into the earth in a shady spot. When temperatures cool in the fall, just raise them again and take them inside.

THD-planting-petunia-bed-560x400Annuals

Seed or transplant annuals over your bulb beds, taking care not to damage the bulbs while planting. Try some of the new “Wave” petunias, some of which grow to 18 inches and are covered with blooms.

If you rooted chrysanthemums in April, the seedlings can be planted out now where you want them to bloom in the fall. Keep them pinched back for bushier growth.

Give candytuft and alyssum a haircut and they will bloom again, as will dianthus.

Perennials

Daylilies are beginning to bloom and, if you want some new selections, can still be brought home from the garden center and placed where you want that cultivar’s color. Remember that these wonderful plants will spread, so give them plenty of room. If you have a plot that is over grown, they can be lifted and divided now. Replant the tubers immediately in a new spot. Remove seed pods after blooming (They are attractive in flower arrangements). Most daylilies are hybrids, so the seed won’t be true to the parent.

You can move spring flowering bulbs now that the foliage has died back. Dig them up, label them and keep them in a cool dry place until it is time to replant them in the fall.

Dahlias and caladiums love warm soil, so they may also be planted now, or moved if they are coming back from last year.

Mulch flower beds with pinestraw, oak leaves or compost to a depth of two or three inches.

Corn Dip With Tomatoes and BasilVegetables

Plant beans and corn in succession plantings every two weeks to keep the harvest going until frost.

Keep all ripe tomatoes, cucumber, melons, beans and squash picked clean or the plants will stop producing. Start your canning, freezing and dehydrating later in the month as harvest become larger than can be eaten in a few days.

Okra seeds love warm moist soil, so they may be put in now. Once they begin to flower in June you will have the tasty pods until frost. They must be picked every day once they start producing.

If you planted early potatoes, look for their blooms. As soon as they have flowered, start looking under the mulch for new potatoes. They can be harvested without digging up the whole plant, leaving some potatoes to grow larger and be harvested later in the month. Keep the soil evenly moist for best production.

Plant lots of flowers, such as marigolds and nasturtium, in your vegetable garden to attract pollinators and deter some pests.

Keep mulching to conserve water and keep the weeds at bay. Weed after a rain or watering.

Water early in the morning or late in the afternoon to keep the sun from stealing the moisture before the plants can use any. Vegetables need at least an inch of water a week if rain doesn’t provide. Put a tuna can out to measure with.

Trees/Shrubs

Prune spring blooming shrubs right after they bloom if they need it. Many don’t other than to remove an awkward branch or to control size. Flowers will begin to set in July, so get this chore done before then.

Crape myrtles may be fertilized now if they need it. Use a balanced plant food spread beneath the branches and beyond the drip line.

Lawn/Turf

Lawn diseases may appear this month on St. Augustine or centipede grass. Brown patch will appear as a brown circular area with a purplish ring on the outer edges. Treat with a fungicide as per the directions on the label. Repeat every seven to ten days.

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