Things To Do In The Cottage Garden In May

Chores and Maintenance:

  • Finish preparation of planting beds
  • Continue to cultivate planting beds and carefully remove young weeds
  • Dig and divide early-blooming perennials after flowering
  • Lift, divide and replant late summer and fall-blooming perennials
  • Set supports for floppy plants, vines and vegetables
  • Mow lawns regularly to keep grass at 2½ inch height
  • Begin watering program as necessary
  • Continue weeding
  • Aerate and moisten compost pile to speed decomposition
  • Mulch azaleas, rhododendrons, and other ericaceous ornamentals with acid mulch
  • Mulch planting beds
  • Deadhead bulbs but allow foliage to remain until yellow to nourish bulbs for next year’s display
  • As night temperatures moderate into the 60’s, move houseplants outdoors (avoid full sun and windy locations)
  • Look for pests and other problems; spotting early can mean fewer chemical controls. Note: slugs and caterpillars can be removed manually
  • Begin application of deer repellents

Planting:

  • Move self-sown annuals and perennials to desired locations
  • Sow seeds of corn, cucumber and melon directly in the garden
  • Harden off tomato, eggplant and pepper transplants before planting out at end of month
  • Complete planting deciduous trees and shrubs, weather and soil conditions permitting
  • Continue to plant and transplant perennials
  • Plant summer annuals after last frost date
  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as gladiolas and dahlias after last frost date
  • Plant caladium and tuberous begonias in shady spots
  • Complete reseeding bare lawn areas

Pruning/Composting:

  • Pinch back late summer and fall-blooming perennials
  • Continue to prune all plant material to remove any diseased, dead, weak or crossing branches
  • Prune early spring-flowering shrubs after blooming
  • Wait to prune evergreens, hedges and other shrubs until late spring into early summer
  • Begin deadheading roses
  • Add compost/organic fertilizer to roses
  • Fertilize needle evergreens with  organic acid type fertilizer
  • Compost/fertilize bulbs as they finish blooming
  • Compost/fertilize annuals and container plants