Donna’s Garden Tips for May

— Written By and last updated by logo

Continue the fruit spray program. Regular spraying is a must for a good apple and peach harvest.

garden sprayer and fruit spray

Garden sprayer and fruit spray

Watch for lacebugs on azaleas. Leaves will look washed out and undersides of leaves have tiny specks of excrement. Spray with Insecticidal Soap. Azaleas planted in the sun will be more likely to have a lacebug infestation.

azalea with lacebugs

Azalea with Lacebugs

azalea leaf with lacebut excrement

Lacebug excrement

To insure a summer-long harvest of squash, cucumbers and tomatoes, put additional plants out at 2-week intervals through June. Just use seeds for cucumbers and squash. They will germinate quickly and you’ll have fresh veggies into October.

seedling plant in paper container


After spring bulbs finish flowering, let the foliage turn yellow before cutting it back. This will insure more blooms for next spring. The spent flower and stem can be cut immediately.

tulip after bloom

Tulip after bloom

Cage or stake tomatoes to keep them off the ground. Use a mulch around them to hold moisture and to prevent early blight. (straw or newspaper works great)

tomato plants with cages and mulch

Tomato Plants

When garden mums reach 6 inches, pinch them back by 1/3 to encourage branching. This will give you bushy plants instead of tall plants!

pinching back garden mums

Pinching back mums

If black spot on roses has been a problem in the past, start making weekly sprays with fungicides such as Captan or Daconil to prevent problems this year. Organic options are Neem or copper sprays. Weekly applications are critical.

black spot on roses

Black Spot on Roses

Plant sweet potato slips in May. Be sure to purchase certified plants.

packages of sweet potato slips

Sweet Potato Slips

To keep rhododendrons dense and compact, prune as soon as the flowers start to fade. Always prune back to a whorl of leaves.

pruning rhododendrons

Prune Rhododendrons

The weather has been dry. Be sure and keep tender transplants watered as they struggle to adapt themselves to their new home in your garden.

hose wand spraying water on plants

Water plants

Mowing the lawn on a regular schedule prevents having to bag the clippings. Allowing grass clipping to fall back on the lawn adds valuable nutrients and organic matter back into the lawn-free of charge!

push mowing the lawn

Mow Lawn Regularly

Side dress (fertilize) vegetable crops 6-8 weeks after germination.

putting fertilizer to the side of plants in a row

Side Dress – Fertilize

Check arborvitaes, junipers and leyland cypress for newly hatched bagworms and spray immediately if bagworms are present.

bagworms on evergreen


Scout vegetable garden frequently to catch any insect problems early. Be sure to look on the undersides of the leaves for egg masses and pick them off if found.

mass of insect eggs on vegetable garden plant

Insect egg mass

Prune off faded flowers on rose bushes to encourage faster re-bloom.

pruning faded roses

Prune Faded Roses

Spot spray for dandelions in the lawn as you see them bloom. Don’t allow them to go to seed.

dandelion flowers and seeds


Continue to plant additional squash, cucumber and tomato plants in the garden. This will insure good late-season harvests of these vegetables.

rows of garden plants

Garden Planting

Sidedress vegetable crops six weeks after germination to give them an extra push but don’t over do it. Apply a light application of 10-10-10 six inches from plants down the row.

sprinkling fertilizer along plants in a row

Sidedress Vegetables

Renovate the strawberry bed after harvest is complete. Check with our office if you need instructions. 828-764-9480

strawberry bed

Strawberry Bed

Prune blue or pink hydrangeas just as soon as they finish flowering.

pink and blue hydrangeas beside steps