Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
How-To

Northeast: May Garden To-Do List | Regional Report

May is the boss of us. Never mind if the laundry needs doing or dinner hasn’t gone into the oven, if it’s a nice day in May, you’ll find us in the garden past sunset, headlamp on, no apologies. If it’s a crummy day in May, same story. As nights warm into the 50s and above, plant growth kicks into high gear (including onion grass). If we don’t try to keep up, we’ll feel like we’re losing ground. (We’re not. We’ve still got June.) Also, it bears remembering that May gardens are deceiving: lovely and minimalist with plenty of room to spare. But as perennials and coppiced shrubs grow to their full potential, they’ll soon take up much more space than they do now.

1. Take advantage of local organizations’ plant sales, and start haunting your favorite nurseries.

  • Identify the true vacancies in your garden, and go with a wish list—but allow for impulse purchases; they’re what keep us on our toes.
  • Don’t think spring; think late summer and fall. Look for late-blooming tender perennials and annuals that will carry your garden and its pollinators through the heat of summer, as well as a native hosts for the insect and bird community.

2. Harden your heart to thin self-sown and direct-sown seedlings.

  • Allowing a tiny fraction of the abundance to mature will reward you with sturdier stems and bigger flowers and fruit. Compost the extras, or share them with friends.

3. Dust off your houseplants, and bring them outside.

  • Some, like rosemary and geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), will thrive if planted in the garden. Others, such as begonias, gardenia, and figs, will be happy enough in containers.

4. Do the Chelsea Chop

  • Pinching summer- and fall-blooming perennials (such as Nepeta spp., Agastache spp., Sedum spp., and summer phlox) once or twice before Father’s Day will promote branching and sturdy upright growth.
  • Pinched tips may be rooted in perlite. Share the wealth!
View Comments

Comments

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest

Magazine Cover

Take your passion for plants to the next level

Subscribe today and save up to 44%

"As a recently identified gardening nut I have tried all the magazines and this one is head and shoulders above the pack."

Video

View All