May Garden Sustainable Maintenance Practices for the Southeast, Ecoregion 231

Posted by on May 2, 2017

UGUST Do you hide in August? I garden in August, as I do every month of the year, but I plan carefully when I go outside. August heat can be brutal! I’m not likely to go out into the garden after 10 in the morning during August or before 10 in January. My internal clock wants to be in the garden by 7:00 AM every day of the year, but winter temperatures tempers me. If I start in the garden earlier in the morning, I can stay until about 2:000. You can forget it between 2 – 6. Nope, no way. I can tour gardens during that time, although my pictures bite when the sun is at those angles.

BLOOM
Lantana, salvias, phlox, ruella, coneflowers, milkweeds, plus annuals are blooming their full heads off, especially the zinnias!

GROOM
Deadhead flowers. Keep your flowers blooming longer by removing faded blossoms from your cannas, roses, daisies and more. As for the seed plants, such as black-eyed Susans, phlox, and coneflower, leave the flower heads for the birds. Once the birds have picked them through, it’s time to deadhead.

PLANT
Roses can be propagated by layering as late as mid-August. Long, flexible canes are the easiest to propagate because they bend freely into place. Use a clean knife to remove two thorns near the top of the stem and bend it toward the ground. Make a couple of small cuts into the bark between where the thorns were. This is called wounding the cane. Hold the wounded area in good contact with the soil with landscape pins and cover with soil, leaving the growing tip of the stem uncovered. It’s also a good idea to put a brick or stone over the covered and wounded cane to give it extra hold.

Next spring, you should see new growth emerge. Once you see new leaves on the rooted stem, carefully remove the entire stem from the parent plant, and recut the stem just beneath the new root mass. Now you are ready to plant your new rose bush.

BULBS 
Select and pre-order your spring-blooming bulbs now while supplies are plentiful. Don’t put off today what will be gone tomorrow. The most unusual bulbs sell out fast. I can say this now because I’ve already put my in order. Try something fun such as the species tulip, Tulipa clusiana.

VEGETABLES
Harvest vegetables as needed. Most of what’s growing in your vegetable garden are annuals–tomatoes, beens, peppers, etc.  By August, they are looking a little wrung out. As plants end their production cycle, remove them from the garden; otherwise, they may attract insects and disease to the plants that are still productive.

 

FRUITS
I only every want to speak from experience; these are the fruits I grow in the Bee Better Teaching Garden.

Apple — Honey Crisp & North Sentinel apple; Crabapple — Malus ‘Transcendent’

Blueberries Vaccinium ashei ‘Premier’, ‘Climax’, & ‘Powder Blue’

Cherry ‘Stella’

Chokeberry–Aronia melanocarpa

Chokecherry — Prunus virginiana

Dogwood — Cornus kousaKousa fruit Good Berry

Cherry — Prunus avium ‘Stella’

Cornelian cherry — Cornus Mas

Elderberry — Sambucus cerulea

Fig — Ficus ‘Brown Turkey’, ‘LSU Purple’, and an unnamed sport with super large fruit.

Goji Berry — Lyceum barbarum

Goumi Berry — Elaeagnus multiflora

Kiwi, Hardy — Actinidia arguta

Kumquat — Fortunella japonica

Plum — Prunus ‘Santa Rosa’

Raspberries — Ever-bearing, Rubus idaeus

May Apple — Podophyllum peltatum

Muscadines The muscidines are ripening up, the blue berries are done

Passiflora — Passiflora incarnata 

Paw-paw–Asimina triloba

Pear, BarlettePrunus communis 

Persimmon — Diospyros kaki 

Serviceberry — Amelanchier arborea

Strawberries — Fragaria

Quince — Cydonia oblonga

Plum ‘Santa Rose’

Raspberries–Rubus spp.

Serviceberry–Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’

WILDLIFE

SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES
Waterwise:  With a waterwise design, watering in the absence of rain is a breeze.  My garden at home, the Bee Better Teaching Garden was designed with waterwise principles. I have very little watering to do, and what I do have, is a choice. My boxwood collection is contained. But the watering is smart. These containers are near a watering source, so moving around a hose isn’t a big deal.

Mulch:

Pest control:  Pinesaw larvaePests. See these on your pines? They’re the Pine Sawfly larvae. Pick them off and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. I feed them to my chickens.

 Organic: Fertilizer dos and don’ts. As August arrives, some plants will benefit from an application of fertilizer. For other plants, it could do more harm than good.

Do fertilize, Summer veggies such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant continue to produce when fertilized regularly. Use a product that contains 5 percent nitrogen.
Fall vegetable crops
Fall-blooming perennial and annual flowers
Chrysanthemums and dahlias
Cannas
Re-blooming iris would benefit from a light application
Warm season lawns (Bermuda and Zoysia) can be fertilized
Remember to water any application of fertilizer well into the soil to provide nutrients to the roots of the plants.

Don’t fertilize:
Azaleas and camellias, because the fertilizer will disturb bud formation.
Summer-flowering shrubs shouldn’t need fertilizing for the same reason.

DECORATE

Cut flowers. Remember those zinnias you seeded in July? Seed more in August, and be sure to cut some to enjoy inside!

May brings the end of pine pollen and the unofficial start of summer with the long Memorial Day weekend. Let the prime gardening season begin. Here’s what you can do in the Southeast garden this month.

Admire blooming trees and shrubs. May is bloom time for southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). These flowers give so much, and we need to do so little for them in return. I like to pluck a magnolia bloom and float it in a bowl of water near where I read or enjoy the garden at the end of the day. It lasts but a day, but what a day it is. The Endless Summer hydrangea is the first hydrangea to bloom on old and new growth, with the ability to rebloom all summer long. I planted my Endless Summer in 2005. To encourage reblooming, cut the blooms for drying or to put in vases for a fresh arrangement. This will also encourage the plant to set new buds.Prune rhododendrons and azaleas right after flowering.

Enjoy abundant rose blooms. Roses are in full swing right now. Let your roses flesh out; prune less in May so they grow taller. This is usually good advice for the first couple of cuttings. Then you can prune at will, remembering to cut the next five leaflets at an angle.Roses are heavy feeders — in terms of both food and water. Fertilize once a month and give each rose about 5 gallons of water each week (or about 1 inch per week). Water in the morning, at the base of the plant to help discourage black spot.
Cherish blooming iris. Oh, the irises are blooming their little heads off. After they bloom, cut the flower stalks to tidy up the plant. Recently I cut some for a friend. She took a whiff and realized, for the first time, that bearded irises have a lovely scent — making them enjoyable indoors too.Cut the flower stalks of daffodils. Try to ignore the leaves as the plants naturally die back.
Plant annuals. With frosts behind us, you can plant annuals with abandonment. Visit public gardens to see the variety available for planting in our area. The JC Raulston Arboretum is an All-American Selection (AAS) display garden, exhibiting the most recent selection winners.Direct sow zinnia seed at intervals to have cut flowers through frost.
by Gardening with Confidence®
Plant tender summer bulbs. It’s now safe to transplant the amaryllis you grew during the winter. It will not likely bloom again this year but should do so next year.Now that the soil has warmed (make sure it’s at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit), plant caladium bulbs or caladiums potted and already in leaf. They like it warm and can be damaged by cool weather, not just a frost. They are also big feeders, so you’ll need to water and fertilize them consistently during the growing season.Actually, any tender summer bulb, such as cannas, dahlias, ginger lilies and tuberoses, can be planted now.
Grow edibles. With the last frost of the season behind us, it’s now time to plant tomatoes, basil, peppers, cucumbers, and other tender annuals.
by Gardening with Confidence®
Plant an herb garden. If not for you, then for your garden friends. Black Tiger Swallowtail butterfly larvae love parsley and fennel. Let those green worms eat it all.May in my garden is peak lavender bloom time. Each May I’m reminded of why I grow lavender; it can look ratty many months of the year. After it flowers, cut back and shape it.
by Gardening with Confidence®
Discover different wisteria. May is not the ideal time for planting perennials, but they are widely available. If you plan to plant, be prepared to pamper them well. Perennials require extra watering to help them get established.Seeing Chinese wisteria in the wild brings a feeling of wonder. Yes, the color and flowers cascading down from the trees are beautiful, but they aren’t supposed to be there. Think twice about planting one.Instead, consider the rich purple flowers of American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’ ); it blooms a little later the Chinese species.
by Gardening with Confidence®
Add a container garden. Every home area has room for container gardens. Find some fabulous pots and fill them with whatever you fancy. Know the amount of sun you get and when.It matters when you select your plants. Containers tend to dry out faster, so container gardens need to be watered more often. This water tends to cause nutrients to leach out, so plants will benefit from an application of a quick-release fertilizer.
by Gardening with Confidence®
Top-dress your garden beds with mulch. Keep your gardens cool, less thirsty and reduce the amount of weeds. I can write volumes on the benefits of mulch. I believe in the power of mulch.For my roses, I use mini nuggets, but for my perennial gardens, I used composted leaf mulch. Picking up a load of mulch reminds me how important it is to make sure yard waste is separated from trash. Yard waste not only is good stuff once it is composted,  but the conservation practice is in everone’s best interest.

Fertilize sustainably. To encourage flowering, use a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus.Fertilizer’s three main ingredients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or NPK.

  • 10-10-10 means there is an equal proportion N, P and K.
  • Hydrangeas like a low N and a high P; thus a combination of 10-40-10 would be ideal.

My general rule of thumb to remember what the numbers mean is to start with the first number and apply from the top of the plant to the bottom. As such, N is for the green, P is for the bloom and K is for the root or up and down and all around.

To refresh your understanding of pH, it refers to the acidity of the soil and is measured by the number of hydrogen ions present in the soil. It’s a logarithmic scale based on the power of 10. As such, a pH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than pH of 7. Thus, even a little change in pH can make a big difference.

  • A pH of 7 is neutral.
  • A pH lower than than 7 is acidic.
  • A ph higher than 7 is alkaline.

Most plants like a pH between 6.5 and 7. Hydrangeas like it more acidic than most plants.

Helen Yoest

 

 

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *