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"Even if it is a garden you know by heart
there are twelve months in the year
and every month means a different garden,
and the discovery of things unexpected
all the rest of the year."
~ Margery Fish from We Made a Garden, 1956

jan | feb | mar | apr | may | jun | jul | aug | sep | oct | nov | dec

May is the most hectic month in southern gardens. Spring turns into summer in the blink of an eye and weeds pop up overnight. If you are a seasoned gardener, you probably do not need a list to remind you of what needs to be done because it hits you in the eye every time you walk outside, but novice gardeners surely do need one, and a reminder-check list never hurts. But here are some things you can do. Don’t panic; just do a little each day and it will be done before you know it. Once May is past, you can sit back under the shade of a big tree with a big glass of sweet tea or lemonade and enjoy your garden.

• Indulge yourself with at least 1 great new plant

• Water regularly, if it doesn’t rain

• Water newly planted plants even if rain is predicted

• Attend a plant swap (if you’ve never been to one, you’re in for a treat!)

• Mulch, mulch, mulch! (The best I’ve found was finely chopped bark that was not sold as mulch, but as “soil amendment”.)


•Divide and plant out seedlings

• Divide crowded summer & fall blooming perennials and share

• Deadhead and begin replacing cool season annuals (pansies, alyssum, etc…) with plants from the nursery (marigold, cosmos, sunflower, tithonia, nicotiana, verbena, zinnia...) as the blossoms fade if you do not have seeds

• Direct seed summer annual flowers (celosia, marigolds, morning glories, sunflower, zinnia...)

• Unless you are trying your hand at propagating new bulb varieties, deadhead spring blooming bulbs, but do not cut down the foliage until it yellows

• Mark bulb plantings that will need division

• Jumpstart the garden with a good feeding

• Make sure tall perennials are staked

• Feed blooming roses and continue your spray regimen for Hybrid Teas

Vegetables & Herbs

• Keep the perennial veggies, herbs, and berries weeded

• Plant out tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings

• Direct seed warm season vegetables (melons, beans, okra, squash, pumpkins, southern peas...) for a mid-summer harvest

• Keep cool season crops harvested, so they’ll keep producing as long as possible

• Consider doing as the Native Americans did and plant a “Three Sisters Garden” – interplant corn, running beans, and squash


• Repot houseplants in new soil

• Move most houseplants to a shady porch or patio

Trees & Shrubs

• Check out the azaleas while they are still in bloom for future purchases

• Plant or transplant trees and shrubs before it gets too hot.

• Prune flowering trees, shrubs, and climbing roses immediately after they finish blooming


• Fertilize the lawn after it has been mowed twice


• Start digging that pond you’ve been dreaming of.

• If you already have a pond, muck out leaves

• Clean bird feeders

• Clean out birdhouses that do not contain new nests

• Turn the compost


• Keep a watch out for garden pests (asparagus beetles, aphids, cabbage worms, cutworms, scale, slugs & snails, spider mites, thrips, & whiteflies)

• Look out for fungal problems (leaf spot, mildew, rust...)

• Remove invasives while the soil is damp, before they spread even further

Monthly To Do Lists

jan | feb | mar | apr | may | jun | jul | aug | sep | oct | nov | dec

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