Yellow lantana sprawls lazily under the West Texas sun, and esperanza yellow bells stand upright all summer. Roses delight in our dry heat.

What to do in May

It is warm enough now to plant warm-season grasses including St. Augustine, bermudagrass, buffalo grass, and zoysia.

Plant hot-weather annuals including lantana (photo at left), gomphrena, copper plants, moss rose, firebush, Dahlberg daisy, and purple fountain grass. Tropical annuals can be planted in beds or containers now. Try Mexican heather, cuphea, hibiscus, bougainvillea, pentas, and esperanza yellow bells (photo at left).

Transplant summer and fall perennials.

Thin peaches, apricots, and plums to five or six inches apart on the branches. The result will be larger, better quality fruit.

Prune spring flowering shrubs and vines to shape them. Prune climbing roses and once bloomed antique roses to restore good shape and reduce overall height.

Cut off old blossoms on spring-flowering annuals such as pansies, snapdragons, and stock to prolong the flowering season.

Allow foliage of spring-flowering bulbs to mature and yellow before removing.

Pinch back the terminal growth on newly planted annual and perennial plants. This will result in shorter, more compact, well-branched plants with more flowers.

Plants in containers and hanging baskets should be fertilized with
20-20-20 or a complete, balanced fertilizer. The fertilizer could be liquid, water-soluble or time released. Don’t apply fertilizer to dry soil. Water plants before fertilizing.

Fertilize warm season turf grasses, such as bermudagrass or St. Augustine. Soil tests will accurately tell you the needs of your lawn. Most lawns in our area will need a high nitrogen fertilizer. High alkaline soils will also need an application of iron.

Trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers should be fertilized at this time. The fertilizer you use on your lawn can also be applied to trees and shrubs. Do not use “Weed and Feed” type fertilizers around desirable plant material.

Always be sure to water thoroughly after fertilizing.

Be on the lookout
Broadleaf weed killers can be used to control non-grassy weeds in turf. Read the label carefully before applying. St. Augustine is susceptible to damage by many types of weed killers.

ONLY if you applied pre-emergent for grassburrs and crabgrass in March, it is time to put down the second application.

Check for pecan nut case bearers and check with your County Extension office for information on spraying.

Look for bagworms on junipers and arborvita. Use Bt or Sevin or a big hammer for control.

Check photinias, Indian Howthornes, and roses for fungal leaf spot. Apply Banner, Daconil, or a registered fungicide. Zinnias and euonymus may get powdery mildew. Treat with a registered fungicide. Look for early blight on tomatoes, which will cause lower leaves to develop large yellow blotches. Treat with a registered fungicide.

Miscellaneous chores
Replenish old mulch or apply new mulch in flowerbeds and around shrubs to reduce weed growth and conserve water.

  (c) 2007 - 2008 Howard County Master Gardeners