May 18 2011

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Garden checklist for May

The hot weather last week is a good reminder that summer is quickly approaching.  There is still time to complete some gardening chores in the landscape before the hot weather comes to stay.  Following are some reminders of tasks that we should be completing in May.
• It is not too late to sow directly into the soil seeds of sunflower, zinnia, morning glory, portulaca, marigold, cosmos, periwinkles, and gourds. Cannas, dahlias, and other summer-flowering bulbs can also be planted in May.
• Allow foliage of spring-flowering bulbs to mature and yellow before removing.
• Pinch back the terminal growth on newly planted annual and perennial plants. This will result in shorter, more compact, well branched plants with more flowers.
• Time to plant caladium tubers, impatiens, coleus, and begonias in shady areas.
• Replace or replenish mulch materials in flower beds and shrub borders to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth.
• Make cuttings of your favorite chrysanthemums and root them in a mixture of sand and peat moss. Cover cutting box with plastic and place in shaded area for 5 or 6 days to prevent wilting.
• Prune climbing roses as they complete their spring bloom season. Remove dead or weak wood as needed.
• Take a critical look at your landscape while at the height of summer development. Make notes of how you think it can be better arranged, plants that need replacement, overgrown plants that need to be removed, and possible activity areas that can be enjoyed by family members.
• Check for insects and diseases. Destroy badly infested plants. Spider mites can be especially troublesome at this time. Select a chemical or organic control, or use insecticidal soap.
• During the summer, soil moisture becomes extremely important and essential for good plant production. Because continual watering is often costly and time consuming, it pays to conserve the moisture around plants. This is best done by mulching. A good mulch will retain valuable moisture needed for plant growth, and improve overall gardening success. Mulches are usually applied 2 to 6 inches deep, depending on the material used. In general, the coarser the material, the deeper the mulch. For example, a 2-inch layer of cottonseed hulls will have about the same mulching effect as 6 inches of oat straw or 4 inches of coastal Bermuda hay.
Dennis Smith can be contacted at the Gregg County Extension Office by e-mail at dg-smith@tamu.edu or telephone at: 903-236-8429.
Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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