Hello Gardening Friends! May is here and it's time to plant! You can get your perennials in the ground in early May. Wait on the annuals until after May 10th. With the up and down spring weather, you don't want to subject them to a late frost.
Some of my favorite things to do this month are buying annual flowers, setting up my container gardens, and planting this season's veggies and herbs. Always something to look forward to in the garden!
Please scroll down for my May gardening "to do's"and more helpful advice. Plus, discover what's new and blooming at your Zone 5 / 6 resource FlowerChick.com for more gardening guidance, tips, and inspiration for you and your gardens ...
Table of Contents - May Newsletter
Garden Helpers of the Month
Latest Flower Chick Posts
May Garden "To Do's"
Flower Spotlight & Trivia
May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
~ An Irish Blessing
Gifts for the Month of May: Help The Pollinators Out
One of the purest joys of gardening is the presence of lovely, happy birds …
We cherish their visits to our gardens during the four seasons – and we like to help them out with this attractive “rest stop” …
This beautiful garden accent and birdbath will welcome pollinating bees, as well as birds, to your yard with its unique, attractive styling. Crafted in copper-plated stainless steel. 28″h with stake x 12″ dia.
All bird species need water, and adding one or more water features to your yard will quickly attract feathered friends! Birds need water for two reasons: drinking and preening.
Offering water in your backyard will attract more birds than just food sources, since birds that would not normally visit feeders can be tempted by water features. Gift this pretty and useful garden accent to your favorite gardener!
If you know a gardener who enjoys attracting hummingbirds to their garden, here’s a gift idea that’s right up their alley - it’s a decorative glass and metal hummingbird feeder, specifically designed to attract hummingbirds like no other ...
This heavy duty, attractive feeder is crafted from high quality stress tested metal and glass so it won’t chip or break like cheap plastic hummingbird feeders. The wide mouth bottle is easy to fill and clean. Just add homemade nectar (sugar water) and sit back and watch the fun!
Designed to last for decades, this feeder features a tough glass bottle and an ant moat! If you love hummingbirds and want to attract more to your garden, make sure to read my post Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds …
This fabulous combo Flower Box and Trellis makes an elegant statement and is perfectly sized for your deck, patio, balcony or backyard!
The trellis is ideal for climbing plants and vines. (plant with nectar friendly plants to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees). The oversized flower box features convenient drainage holes.
Made of durable, UV-protected resin that resists fading, providing years of enjoyment. Available in 3 colors: brown, white and gray. Easy assembly required. Measures 32"W x 60"H x 17"D. Put YourFavorite Flowers on Display!
The term “native” plant generally refers to plants indigenous to a particular geographic region. Over time those plants have adapted to local environmental and social influences such as soil types, micro-climates and human influences. Native plants are definitely an important part of a healthy ecosystem.
There’s no special way to landscape with native plants. The design can be simple clusters of one plant, or a mix of plants to create a wildflower meadow or pollinator paradise.
Let’s dive into the reasons why native plants matter, and why you should be including these plants in your landscaping plans!
Composting is the process of converting food scraps and yard waste into material that boosts soil health. This means gardeners need less store-bought fertilizers to get bigger and more robust plants.
Compost is also excellent for the environment. When food and leaves break down in landfills, they produce methane … a greenhouse gas. Composting reduces that methane emission – since scraps never make it to the landfill in the first place.
Once you get your compost pile started, you’ll find that it’s an easy way to repurpose kitchen scraps and other organic materials into something that can help keep your plants thriving! Get started today with my six easy steps...
How To Keep Unwanted Guests Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders ...
Camouflage the Yellow - Check to see if there are any yellow parts on the feeder. Many popular hummingbird feeders have yellow feeder ports or decorations. Bees and wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Use bright red fingernail polish and paint over any yellow parts of the feeder. Apply several coats of nail polish, letting each dry before applying the next coat.
Keep Away - Place the feeder away from anything that is yellow in your yard. This includes yellow flowers, lawn ornaments or decorations. Again, the yellow color will attract the unwanted insects.
Make it Slippery - Applying some Vaseline or some oily liquids on the outer side of your feeder works wonderfully against ants. This will act as a deterrent for ants in reaching the feeder. If you don’t have Vaseline, you can use Vicks VapoRub as a substitute. Ants hate the scent. The cleaner 409 can work as well.
Scents The Pests Hate - If you use a pole to hang the hummingbird feeder, then tie some bay leaves or mint leaves around the pole and also around the wire on which the feeder hangs. The ants dislike the fragrance and should stay away.
May Garden "To Do" List:
Prune Shrubs - early-flowering shrubs such as pussy willow, forsythia, azalea, and lilac can be pruned now (right after they finish blooming) if you want to shape them. If you wait more than three or four weeks after the shrubs flower, you’ll be removing developing flower buds for next year.
Tackle Those Weeds - stay ahead of your weeding chores. Once temps soar, weeds & invasive plants can quickly get ahead of you. Pull them out as you see them. Use preventative measures like sprinkling Preen in your beds.
Plant Warm Season Annuals - such as marigolds, impatiens, zonal geraniums ...etc. after your region's last average frost date. For the northern Midwest, that would be around the middle of May. Better safe than sorry with your annuals.
Plant Trees, Shrubs and Roses - you can plant both bare-root and container-grown types now.
Mulch Now - with wood chips and other weed-suppressing mulches until May or beginning of June. The mulch helps preserve soil moisture during the hot months and prevents weeds from taking over. Weeds that do germinate will be easier to pull.
Divide Perennials - spring is an ideal time to divide summer and fall-blooming perennials. Try to tackle before plants reach 6 inches tall. Don't forget to water newly transplanted divisions.
Tidy Up Spring Bulbs - by clipping off the spent flowers. Let the leaves stay in place until they begin to brown. This is important for collecting energy for next year’s bloom. Remove the foliage once it pulls away with very little resistance.
Lawn Care Now - grass can grow quickly in early spring. Don't remove more than one-third the length of grass blades at any one cutting. A sharp mower blade helps prevent turf diseases.
Check For Diseased Plants - be on high alert for insect pests and diseases on your plants. These include, but are not limited to, aphids, asparagus beetles, cabbage worms, cutworms, scale, snails, slugs, leaf spot, mildew, and rust.
Feed Your Roses - give them their first feeding of the season at pruning time. I like to use a combination granular-type fertilizer / insecticide.
Grow More Food - incorporate more edibles into your garden! Nothing's better than home grown veggies, herbs, and fruit right from your yard. Don't have a lot of room? Grow them in containers.
Plant For The Pollinators - include nectar rich perennials and annuals into your landscape plans. They love coneflowers, black-eyed susan, salvia, butterfly bush, milkweed, zinnias, lantana and more ...
Did you know ... 10 Fun Facts About Clematis
Clematis is one of the most popular vines, adding height, color and beauty to our gardens. These attractive climbers are ideal for walls, fences, trellises and arbors. Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds are attracted to clematis.
Plant them in a sunny spot in moist, well-drained soil. The roots should be kept cool, while the rest of the plant should receive at least 6 hours of sun. Apply a layer of mulch on top of the soil to keep roots cool and happy.
Clematis symbolizes mental beauty and ingenuity.
The name Clematis comes from the Greek word “klematis,” meaning vine - a climbing plant.
There are approximately 300 species of clematis. The cool temperature species are deciduous, but many of the warmer climate species are evergreen.
The wild Clematis species native to China made their way into Japanese gardens by the 17th century.
This plant is also sometimes known as “Old Man’s Beard,” which gets its name from the long fluffy seed heads that look like ... an old man’s beard : )
The leaves and seeds of the C. ligusticifolia type of Clematis were once used as a black pepper substitute when black pepper was very rare and expensive.
All parts of the plant are considered toxic and can cause severe burning sensation and ulcers in the mouth.
Clematis flowers can be violet, purple, blue, white, yellow, red or sometimes bicolored or with bars.
Clematis are surprisingly cold hardy, with most varieties hardy to -30 or colder with proper winter protection.
Clematis is pronounced kleh-MAT-is. (Though some say KLEM-uh-tis. It seems to be a regional thing : )
Recommended Gardening Book:
Growing Flowers: Everything You Need to Know About Planting, Tending, Harvesting and Arranging Beautiful Blooms
Revel in flowers in bloom. This beautifully photographed (brand new) book features simple, and engaging know-how enabling you to grow, harvest, and arrange a cutting garden of flowers. An instructional guide to gardening for beginners, or if you’re looking to hone your botanical skills, Growing Flowers teaches everything from caring for a cut flower garden to making simple-yet-gorgeous flower arrangements and botanical bouquets.
An indispensable gardening guide. This is a flower book with a whimsical twist, Growing Flowers is a go-to reference for those new to herb and flower gardening. Discover flower arranging techniques using blooms, greenery, and even artichokes, vines and berries. Learn this and so much more ...
Need a little gardening inspiration? Looking for some good cheer and vicarious travel? Get inspired by the Midwest’s beautiful botanical gardens, arboretums, and other stunning natural attractions! Join us as we visit these wonderful Zone 5 & Zone 6 garden sites.
As part of our “Visiting Midwest Gardens” series, we’re pleased to spotlight Ogden Gardens Park. Spread out over four acres, this photogenic park offers a vibrant burst of color from spring through fall.
The centerpiece of the park is the Japanese Garden, which was built and installed by Valpo Parks in 2005. Adjacent is a beautiful 22,000 gallon koi pond …
Many of the plants in the park are grown at Valpo Parks own greenhouses. For practical reasons, there’s always an emphasis on native plants.
Friendship Botanic Gardens is a local treasure … an oasis of formal gardens mixed with nature trails tucked in an old-growth forest surrounding Trail Creek in Michigan City, Indiana.
It’s located on 105 acres off of Route 12 very near Lake Michigan … just a few minutes east of the Indiana Dunes National Park.
The garden was called International Friendship Gardens, with the theme “Peace & Friendship To All Nations”. A lovely place.
Did You Know ...
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) publishes a list of plants (at www.aspca.org) that are toxic to dogs and cats. The list includes more than 80 flowers, shrubs and trees, including many common plants such as lilies, tulip and narcissus bulbs, azaleas, holly, periwinkle, rhododendrons and yew.
Dear Gardening Friends, Thanks for reading the May newsletter! Finally it's time to plant our flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Let's get outside and enjoy the warm weather and help our pollinator friends by planting their favorite nectar plants.
Looking forward to travelling again this summer ... follow along as Flower Chick visits Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin botanical gardens and other interesting horticultural sites.