May gardening tips offered
By Stephen Gent
Owner McDadeís Nursery
TOOLĖ This has been a great spring for gardening. In the Cedar
Creek Lake area we are fortunate to have received a plentiful
supply of rain along with moderate temperatures, ideal
conditions for growing healthy plants.
May is the month to start replacing the cooler weather plants
with varieties that like warmer temperatures.
For example, verbena, petunias, purslane, pentas, vinca and
zinnia can all be planted in sunny spots during the month.
In shady areas, try ferns, begonias, impatiens, nicotiana,
hostas and caladiums to provide an interesting mix of color and
If you want to attract birds and butterflies, plant milkweed,
butterfly bush, rue, red yucca, zinnia, hibiscus, lantana,
salvia, pentas and vines like trumpet, passion and honeysuckle.
Many homeowners lost part or all of their lawns last year due to
the severe drought. St. Augustine, Bermuda and other warm-season
turfgrasses can now be planted.
Keep new grass moist until well established. If laying sod, use
a root stimulator to help the grass develop a healthy root
system and donít fertilize until after the second or third
In early May, you can still plant in your vegetable garden
summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, okra, corn, cucumber,
eggplant, cantaloupe and watermelon. But donít wait too long as
young plants need to be well established before the summer heat
Caladium bulbs are considered tropicals and are typically
planted around Motherís Day when the soil temperature is warm
enough for germination. Fancy leaf caladiums enjoy the shade
while strap leaf varieties will tolerate more sun.
Temperatures will start to rise in May so keep a closer check on
the watering needs of your garden and patio plants. High winds
especially can rob your soil of moisture.
When it comes to watering we recommend the simple finger test.
Place your finger in the soil, if itís damp then leave well
alone. If itís dry, then water.
Overwatering can be more of a problem than underwatering. Most
plants donít like wet feet. In fact, having a drier soil allows
oxygen to circulate around the root system which is beneficial
Mulching your flower and vegetable beds is the best method for
keeping moisture in the ground. It also cuts down on your water
A layer of mulch two to three inches thick prevents evaporation,
keeps the ground cooler, stops weeds from germinating and also
has a pleasing look. Cedar and cypress mulches have properties
that help repel annoying insects.