Gardener’s Blog – May
We’re starting to see signs of spring and we couldn’t be happier. May is the month for rapid change in the garden, when everything grows so quickly, even the weeds! It’s why it is so important to try and keep on top of weeding – and we’ll be doing just that every day, running a hoe around the garden to help keep those unwanted weeds in check.
It’s also the month for rhododendrons and azaleas because they are bursting into flower – their vibrant blooms never fail to impress.
Have you grown any summer bedding plants? Don’t plant them out until the risk of frost has passed – usually the end of May in this region – but start to ‘harden off’ any you have grown.
This process of cooling greenhouse-grown plants means they will become acclimatised to cooler temperatures before they are moved to their permanent position outdoors. The warmer the environment the plants have been grown in, the longer the hardening off process must be.
When moving plants out of a propagator, it’s better to do so on an overcast, dull day to reduce wilting. However, if you don’t have a greenhouse, move plants into a cold frame, ensuring the lid is open slightly during the day in the first week. Gradually, raise the lid during the next fortnight before removing it completely prior to planting. A cloche can be used, but this does not give as much frost protection as a cold frame.
If you don’t have any of these, place plants in a sheltered position in front of a south-facing wall or hedge and cover with two layers of horticultural fleece to prevent sun scorch and temperature shock.
For the first week, leave the plants outside during the day, but bring them in at night. In the following weeks, slowly reduce the layers and then remove the fleece during the day, before completely removing it at night, too.
You’re likely to be preparing your summer hanging baskets now. If you are, always plant the biggest hanging basket you can. This is because the more soil there is, the less you will have to water your plants in dry weather.
SEASONAL TIPS FOR MAY
If you’re out and about in your garden this month, here are some must-do jobs:
- Cut your lawn regularly to encourage new growth;
- Apply a summer lawn feed that contains plenty of nitrogen to prevent weeds;
- Ventilate greenhouses during the day to avoid overheating;
- Watch out for lily beetles on fritillaries and lilies. Check your plants regularly and remove the red beetles and their larvae;
- Continue to feed houseplants once every 7 to 10 days;
- Feed daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs with a high potash feed and leave the foliage to completely die down before removing it;
- Keep on top of your weeding and use a hoe to cut the weeds in warm weather;
- Prune early flowering shrubs by removing a third of the old wood from the base, to encourage new growth.