GARDEN TIME with DOUG – May Gardening To-Do Tasks

Wow!! Thank you, April!!! Now on to May with needed gardening chores.

Let me take a minute to re-cap April. I have been in this business for a “few” years and I do not recall ever having an April where we did not experience a frost. We went the entire month of April without any frost damage to our beautiful plants and spring blooms. Just incredible to experience especially with how April had treated us gardeners in the past couple of years with cold, dreary weather. A little interesting tidbit of information is that it rained every Friday this year in April. For the month we got 4.53” of rainfall. Normal rainfall for April is 3.08 inches. Also, we were 4 degrees above average with our April temperature. This April was the 3rd warmest April on record. I’ll take an April like we just experienced any time as we now head into the month of May.

Now, here are just a few gardening and landscape tasks or projects that should be done in May:

May Gardening Tasks

  1. Our soil temperature is now in the low 70’s and that means it is now full speed ahead for planting all those summer-blooming annuals and vegetables. I know you are enjoying how beautiful the pansies and violas are right now. And, it is hard to imagine pulling them up and toss. BUT – it is wise to make this sacrifice. The sooner you get your summer blooming annuals into the ground, the more rooted they will be before the heat and stress of the coming summer months. AND, don’t forget to add ESPOMA BIO-TONE with each plant at the time of planting.
  2. It is now safe to move house plants outside. Here is an important tip: to avoid sunburning the foliage, move the houseplants outside in shade first for a few days. Let the plants get used to this new environment. After a few days in the shade, you can then progress to moving the plants into more sunlight.
  3. Feed all spring blooming plants, such as azaleas, spirea, rhododendrons, pieris, etc. after they finish blooming. It took a lot of energy for the plant to produce all those flowers. Our suggested plant food is ESPOMA HOLLY-TONE.
  4. Hummingbirds are here!! Now is the time to put out a clean hummingbird feeder. Enjoy!!
  5. Toads eat cutworms and other insect pests. Give them a home in your garden by placing inverted clay flower pots in shady spots. Chip out a piece of the pot rim to give the toads an entrance to their home.
  6. Birds have 5 basic needs: food, water, shelter from hot and cold weather, nesting sites, and protection from predators. Supply these and you will have many more birds around your home to entertain you and to control insect pests.


Plant These for Attracting Bees, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies
Lavender Agastache Buddleia
Cleome Aquilegia Impatiens
Heliotrope Red Hot Poker Scabiosa
Catmint Lobelia Cosmos
Agastache Honeysuckle Monarda
Sunflowers Monarda Butterfly Weed
Fennel Tropical Hibiscus Verbena
Zinnia Penstemon Purple Coneflower
Geranium Salvia Joe-Pye Weed
Hollyhock Tropical Mandevilla Yarrow


Enjoy this spring!!! PLANT A LITTLE HAPPINESS!!!!!!!!

To read more from Doug, check out our blog

10 thoughts on “GARDEN TIME with DOUG – May Gardening To-Do Tasks”

  1. Should hummingbird feeders be in sun or shade? I can hang one from a tree limb or on a hook attached to the house. Which is better? Hook would get morning sun. Thanks.

    • Julie,
      Thank you for sending me your question. Actually, both locations are fine to hang hummingbird feeders. Some people use a Sheppard’s hook on their patio or deck to hang their feeders. I hang mine from limbs since I live in a wooded area and I find limbs to be very useful and convenient. So, bottom line is whatever works best for you. Most importantly is to do it!!! Enjoy their company because it is such a treat to watch them. Take care, Doug

    • David, There are 5 family types of hydrangeas. I am going to make an assumption that you are referring to the Macrophylla family type which is commonly referred to as the Mop Head Hydrangea or the Big Leaf Hydrangea (the ones that bloom blue or pink). If I am right with my assumstion then rest asssured that in most cases it is nothing that you did wrong. The biggest culprit these past 2 and 3 years has been caused by Mother Nature with how cold our winters have been. The cold has killed back the hydrangeas and killed the bloom wood. Mop Head Hydrangeas bloom off of one year old wood that was set back in the summer and carried through until the next spring. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has killed back our hydrangeas below this bloom wood which leads to only green growth and no blooms in the spring. Does this sound like your case? This year we had a more normal winter and many people are reporting that their hydrangeas are budding up and ready to bloom. Interesting that you asked this question because my blog next week will be on hydrangeas. Doug

  2. My monarda is suffering from white powdery mildew. This happened last year at the end of the Summer and I cut it back completely in the Fall. Now that it has grown back it is infected again.

    Can this plant be saved or should I take it out?

    • Carla,
      I am surprised that you are dealing with powdery mildew so early in the season, especially since we have not had a wet spring and any humidity to speak of. So, this leads me to ask a couple questions. Is your Monarda plant in a irrigation system? Is your Monarda planted out where it gets mostly sun and good air circulation? If not, you may want to consider finding a new home. I love Monarda and I would hate to have you toss it. You can treat with a fungicide. let me hear back from you. Doug

  3. What is the best way to keep ants out of my hummingbird feeders. I have tried moats without success.

    Also my kusa dogwood has been planted for ~5 years but always blooms late with very few flowers. Does it need more sun? Should I move it. Thanks for the advice

    • Laure,
      Two good questions. As for the ants at your hummingbird feeder: you could buy an ant trap device and attach to your feeder. But, before you do this try smearing vasoline on the underside of the feeder. Ants are coming up from the ground. The vasoline will act as a slippery deterrent. good luck
      As for your Kousa Dogwood tree – Kousa dogwood trees do bloom later that our tradition dogwood trees. It may be that it is not getting enough sun. We have Kousa dogwoods planted in the middle of our parking lot. They get sun all day long and bloom prolifically. So, you may have a great tree but planted in the wrong location. Not sure. Doug

  4. Thanks Doug! My monarda has good circulation but is in a spot with partial shade and morning sun. I will move it to a sunnier spot and try fungicide. Wish me luck 🙂

  5. To keep ants from getting in my hummingbird feeder I put packing tape with the sticky side on the outside around the base of the Sheppard’s hook that the feeder is hanging from.

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