May is a lovely month. The days are longer, you can feel the sun on your face and the birds are all chirping away. It is a magical time of year as the daffodils and tulips begin to come to life and bloom.
There are many plants, flowers, and trees that are so beautiful and lush in the greenhouses at this time of year. It is time to browse looking for early flowering shrubs, trees, and cold-tolerant flowering plants that may enhance this wonderful time of year. We are all so ready to start fixing up our yards and gardens.
The azaleas, rhododendrons, and magnolias will be coming into bloom shortly. The hanging baskets are lining the greenhouses waiting to burst forth with colours. When considering a plant for the early season, one should look at the size of the greenery on the plants; they should be similar to what is growing in your yard and firm to the touch.
Many shrubs and perennials are just peeking out—they are the ones that are ready to go in the ground. If the shrubs and plants are well-leafed out at the garden centre, you will wish to protect them from the night frosts by hardening them off. When choosing your plants, be sure to ask us and we can help you decide what is ready to go out and what needs to be protected for a few more weeks.
What does hardening off your plants mean? Placing them on a porch for a few hours to start and after several days they should be good for the day. (Some transplants, such as warm-season transplants should be left inside during May to avoid chilling.) If the nights are above 5 degrees you should be able to leave them out overnight. If the garden centre has them outside overnight they can be planted when you bring them home. We have some cool nights yet to come during May. If there is a frost advisory and your plants are in the garden, cover with a sheet or frost blanket at dusk and remove it after the sun warms the frost off the blanket. In a pinch, you can wash the frost off which may help.
By mid-May we can enjoy the color of pansies, osteos, and calendula outdoors, particularly in window boxes. Veggies, including onions, potatoes, spinach, and pea seeds can be planted in the garden. Plant the tender tomatoes, squashes, and pepper plants in mid-June when the ground is warmer for best results.
May is a great time to plant fruit bushes, haskap, rhubarb, blackberries, blueberries, and fruit trees. By transplanting trees, shrubs, and perennials in May and June, they can prepare to meet the summer heat with good roots. Again, be aware of the temperatures if plants are in full leaf.
All plants, like us, like to eat. Fertilize when you plant and again in 4-6 weeks to get their roots growing. This time of year lower nitrogen numbers are the fertilizer of choice to develop good roots and help to control the insects. Whether organic or commercial, ask us which is the best fit for you.
Happy May Gardening!