Spring is short and unpredictable in the Northeast. May weather might feel like summer is right around the corner, but frost is still a possibility in many regions. If you are itching to get outdoors, here are some suggestions for Northeast gardening in May.
Gardening Tasks for The Northeast
Here are some basic things to do in May:
- Plant hardy annuals that can tolerate cool weather or a light frost such as pansies, sweet alyssum, dianthus, or snapdragons. All do well in the ground or in containers.
- Your garden to-do list for May should include plant sales hosted by local gardening groups. You will find some great buys on locally grown plants and in the process, support a local organization in their effort to beautify the community.
- Stake tall perennials such as peonies, false sunflower, asters, or delphinium while they’re still relatively small. When it comes to May gardening tasks, weed removal should be near the top of the list. Weeds are much easier to remove early in the season.
- Prune rose bushes before blooms start to show. Divide summer and fall blooming perennials before they reach 6 inches (15 cm.). Remove faded flowers from spring blooming bulbs, but don’t remove the foliage until it wilts and turns brown.
- Mulch flower beds but wait until the soil is warm. Fertilize the lawn around the end of the month. Unless your area gets a lot of rain, be sure to add watering to your gardening to-do list for May as well.
- May gardening tasks in the veggie garden should include the planting of lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, or other leafy greens that like cool weather. You can also plant beans, carrots, peas, chives, broccoli, or cabbage. If you’ve never planted asparagus, a perennial vegetable, May is a good time to get started. Plant tomatoes and peppers in late May, around Memorial Day.
- Watch for aphids and other pests. Use insecticidal soap or other less toxic controls to keep them in check.
- Visit at least one of the Northeast’s beautiful public gardens, such as Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College Botanic Garden, or the Topiary Park in Columbus, Ohio.