How wonderful it is to see the azaleas and rhododendrons covered in blooms, the iris bold and ruffled, the peony buds round with promise! This is the favorite month of many here in the Cape, for the colorful blooms, the warm days and cool nights, and the promise of summer.
But with summer comes our inevitable battle with those pesky mosquitoes. Some preparation now can make the summer a lot more pleasant. Now is a good time to scout the yard for any containers of standing water. Old tires, tarps, buckets, wheelbarrows, pet dishes, boats, and trash cans and lids are all places where water collects. Even the trays our flower pots sit on can collect enough water for a mosquito to breed. Try to place these things upside down when not in use, if possible, or empty them of water every 5 days. Bird baths also need their water changed every 5 days, or you can use mosquito dunks, which dissolve and release a bacterium that kills mosquito larvae — very handy in rain barrels, bird baths, and fish ponds! Also, clean your gutters and make sure water isn’t standing there. This is the #1 overlooked mosquito breeding spot in the yard!
In the flower garden, don’t tie or cut your daffodil foliage until it begins to yellow — your bulbs need to photosynthesize to store energy for next spring’s bloom. You can, however, pinch off the spent flowers, so they don’t waste energy making seed. May is also a great month to fertilize your shrubs and perennials with organic fertilizers like Holly Tone or Flower Tone, which break down slowly, releasing those nutrients gradually so as not to burn your plants.
If you want to prune your azaleas, do so just after the flowers have faded. That way you won’t cut off next year’s flower buds, as azaleas produce those buds on this summer’s growth. You can also prune your lilacs after the blooms have faded. Some like to prune to the ground 1/3 of the lilac’s limbs each year, starting with the oldest, thickest limbs, which promotes bushy new growth from the base. Also make sure you cut off the lilac’s spent flowers (again to prevent seed formation).
And don’t forget to visit us at our annual Garden Club Plant Sale, the Saturday after Mother’s day, from 8am-2pm. (Rain date Sunday.) Each year we have a colorful selection of annuals from a local grower, mature perennials dug from our own gardens, and an exciting collection of native plants to add variety to any garden. We hope you’ll join us!