Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gardening Tips for May...

by Master Gardener and Village interpreter Pat Kriener

May is for planting all day every day!  While you're planting like crazy, watch for some of our garden friends like hummingbirds. Haven’t seen any yet? Then check out the sections on annuals, bulbs, herbs and perennials to find common plants that will attract them to your yard.

  • Annuals – The garden centers are awash with the colors & scents of spring. Plant tropical hibiscus, Mandeville and lantana. Attract hummingbirds by planting butterfly weed, coral bells, impatiens, geraniums, hummingbird vine, nicotina , petunias,  pentas and shrimp plants.
  • Bulbs – Remember don’t get in a hurry to cut back your bulbs until they turn brown otherwise you will endanger the health of the bulb. Continue to add summer bulbs to the landscape. Bulbs for Shade – achimenes, alpinia. Arum, bletilla, caladium, clivia, costus, crinum, curuma, globba, hedychium, hymenocallis, kaemferia, oxalis, walking irks.  Bulbs for Sun – agapanthus, belamcanda, cannas, crinum, crocosmia, dahlia, dietes, eucomis, garlic chives, gladiolus, glorisa lily, habranthus, hymenocallis, iris, lilies, oxalis, tigridia, society garlic, zephyranthes.  Bulbs for Hummingbirds--cannas and Louisiana iris
  • Compost Bin – Make a new compost bin using an old trashcan. If it already has holes, that’s wonderful but make sure it has holes in the bottom for drainage  & holes in the side for air circulation.  Now just toss your clipping , garden & kitchen waste in it.  Don’t toss the lid.  Put some holes in it and make your compost bin critter proof.
  • Containers –Create a simple container garden to attract hummingbirds using pentas, petunias, salvias and hummingbird vine.
  • Greenhouse – Glass greenhouses are very hard to use in Texas form now until fall because of the heat, but if you have a plastic covered frame greenhouse now is the time to prepare it for summer by placing shade cloth over the top and leaving the sides open. Watch temperatures and airflow. 
  • Herbs –Plant basil, chives, catmint, lemon balm, lemon grass, mints, oregano, parsley, rosemary and many more. Herbs for hummingbirds--bee balm & hyssop.
  • Lawn – Mowing season is here! Make sure your blades are sharp and your equipment has had a maintenance check. Remember to fertilize according to your soil sample. Call the Extension Office for information (817-556-6370).
  • Mulch -Mulch & MORE Mulch- 3 inches of mulch is one of the secrets to gardening in Texas
  • Perennials – Another secret to low cost landscaping is planting perennials that come back year after year. An added bonus to using perennials is that they need to be divided now and then and then you have a free plant to put somewhere else in your garden or to share with as friend. In my yard I do not plant a thing in several of my beds, I just wait for the show. Plant an easy Hummingbird garden using perennials such as Autumn Sage, Hummingbird sage, Saliva and Turks cap.
  • Pests – Don’t wait for problems--release beneficial insects such as trichagrammas, predatory mites, ladybugs and lacewings to help fight damaging pests. Fire Ants are always trouble and spring is the best time to put out baits & beneficial nematodes. For more information on fighting Fire Ants, call the Extension Office (817-556-6370) for a free brochure,  “The Texas Two-Step."
  • Prune – Prune spring flowering shrubs and trees once they are done flowering
  • Roses – Ramblers and climbers should be in full bloom. Don’t let them get away from you. This is the time to pay attention to training and tying them on your structure.  May is the last month to transplant and plant roses without submitting them to undue stress in the summer heat.
  • Trees – Remember you can still plant trees year round in Texas but the summer heat can add undue stress on a newly planted tree and it will require more water and attention. 
  • Vegetable GardenPlant Now cantaloupe, collards, eggplant, luffa, okra, peanuts, peppers, pumpkin, Southern peas, squash, sweet potato, tomatoes, watermelons.  If your tomato plants are lush and green but have no fruit you may have given them too much Nitrogen.  Balance it out by adding greensand to your beds. Plant red peppers in afternoon shade. Make a teepee for your pole beans. Sit in the garden, draw a circle around yourself so you can fit into it, then construct a teepee frame out of sticks using your circle as a guide. Plant your beans around the outside of the circle. Yes...I think we should be able to have as much fun in the garden as the kids.

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