Traces of winter have all but vanished May; the final frost dates have passed and blooms are vigorously pushing forth to the fresh spring air. In warmer regions it is never too early to begin looking for the dry summertime; assess irrigation systems and think about reducing lawn sizes.
Enjoy the bounty the May garden attracts: Abundant roses and tree peonies cologne the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, basil seedlings are sprouting in the West and South, and native perennials scatter the Central Plains. Here is what’s happening in your garden this May, by U.S. area.
Find your May garden checklist:
California | Central Plains | Great Lakes | Mid-Atlantic | Northeast
Pacific Northwest | Rocky Mountains | Southeast | Southwest | Texas
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Northwest. “Now’s the time to make sure your irrigation system is in good working order,” suggests landscape designer Genevieve Schmidt. “As the days heat up, you are going to be relying upon it to provide your plants with water as it is needed. To test, run every system for at least five minutes to make sure that there aren’t any leaks or no repairs required. Leaks are often obvious, with geysers of water and noisy splashes making the origin clear.”
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Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting
California. “Unless you’re entering the pesto organization, only a few basil plants must supply your summertime needs,” notes garden editor Bill Marken. “Warming weather is a great time to plant basil, but with a lot of different types accessible as toddlers, what’s best? To keep the picking easy, trust taste buds or your nose. Plant what you enjoy.”
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Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting
Southwest. “Insert flowering plants to attract pollinators to your vegetable garden,” writes Arizona horticulturalist Noelle Johnson”Flowering plants like cosmos, lavender, marigold, salvia and sunflowers not only beautify your vegetable garden, but they also help to attract pollinators for edibles like beans, cucumbers, melons and squash.
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Rocky Mountains. “Plant veggies and tender annuals after the threat of frost has passed,” writes Colorado picture designer Jocelyn Chilvers. “Harden them off if they are coming out of a greenhouse or home environment.”
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Texas. “With another warm and humid summer predicted, it is a fantastic idea to think about decreasing the size of your yard,” writes landscape designer Jenny Peterson. “We all would like a place where our children and pets can play, but yard areas require copious amounts of fertilizers, water and labor to help keep them looking good.”
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Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens
Central Plains. “Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia, zones 4 to 8) is a 12-inch-tall sun-loving, wet-clay-loving perennial with the neatest blooms,” says Nebraska backyard adviser Benjamin Vogt. “Don’t they look like shooting stars?”
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Great Lakes. “Bearded iris (Iris germanica hybrid revealed) season begins in May,” writes Illinois garden trainer Barbara Pintozzi, “together with the dwarf bearded irises early in the month, after which the tall hybrid cultivars later. Reblooming irises, like the white ‘Immortality’ and the purple ‘Rosalie Figg’, do double duty prospering again in the fall.”
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Northeast. “Some sun-loving alpines push blooms early,” writes Vermont landscape adviser Charlotte Albers, “so try to split overgrown clumps until the blossoms emerge to limit damage to buds and stalks, and keep different crops in check, making sure that there’s space to move about easily. Snip or prune rampant growth, so plants do not compete for limited water.”
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Mid-Atlantic. “Herbaceous peonies may not be in bloom yet, but their cousins, the tree peonies, are showing off currently,” says gardening writer Amy Renea. “Tree peonies boast much bigger blooms than the perennial garden favorite and may be propagated by layering. Bring them inside to create minibouquets in only a few minutes.”
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The Todd Group
Southeast. “Roses are in full swing at the moment,” says North Carolina gardening writer Helen Yoest. “Let your roses flesh out; prune less in May so that they grow taller”
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More: Watch more regional gardening guides