Lupins going wild.
Garden Chores for May
In This Issue
Hello Fellow Gardeners,
May is the month for getting all the plants settled into the garden. It's an exciting and busy time. Once everything is planted, I'll try not buy plants that need to be rescued.
Although I recommend buying healthy plants, I confess I don’t always practice what I preach. All bets are off when I see sad and neglected plants on sale. They beg me to take them home. I'm not the only one that hears their pleas, as other gardeners have told me they feel the same way. We must be sensing something as we can’t all be dotty. Scientists agree - kind of.
Plant scientists have long established that plants emit organic compounds when under stress. In response, neighbouring plants increase their defensive chemicals. Recently, botanists from Tel Aviv University discovered that plants make sounds - when they are under stress and when they are injured.
It’s inaudible to us, but animals and insects can hear it.
They found thirsty plants emit noises that aren’t random, and sounds differ depending on the issue and severity of the distress. Healthy plants produce very few sounds.
But how on earth are plants able to make sounds? Scientists believe it is from the bursting gas bubbles in the xylem of their vascular system. As the bubbles burst, it creates tiny shocks that reverberate throughout the plant, which produces sound waves.
The more stress a plant is under, the more noise it makes.
With this knowledge, I wonder about the possibilities. Farmers could monitor their fields and catch any issues before a crisis occurs.
This technology is an obvious game changer for gardeners and farmers around the world. Now we know they can talk, I hope they don’t nag. That’s all we need.
Have fun planting!
(I wonder where I put my headphones.)
Garden Club Events
New Westminster Horticultural Society Spring Plant Sale
Join the BC Fuchsia & Begonia Society
The BC Fuchsia and Begonia Society promotes the culture and cultivation of fuchsias, begonias, Pelargoniums (geraniums), African violets, streptocarpus, gloxinias, coleus, ferns and other shade-loving plants The society meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7 pm in St. Timothy's Church Hall, 4550 Kitchener Street (enter at back of the church). We offer knowledgeable speakers, plant displays, plant sales, refreshments and friendship. Join our group of plant growing enthusiasts. Click on Fuchsias & Begonias about our garden club, click Please email email@example.com if you’d like to attend.
To receive the monthly edition of The Garden Website.com click here.
Prepare for the upcoming gardening year with a consultation with Amanda. Book an appointment for a consultation here.
Water Restrictions Begin
WATERING RESTRICTIONS START MAY 1
The current water restrictions are more restrictive for lawns, but they are more generous for vegetable and garden beds.
Watering trees, shrubs and flowers is permitted any day, from 1 am - 9 am if using a sprinkler, or any time if hand watering or using drip irrigation. All hoses must have an automatic shut-off device.
Vegetable gardens are exempt from regulations.
Residential lawn watering schedule:
Even-numbered addresses: Wed and Sat, 4 to 9 a.m.
Odd-numbered addresses: Thurs and Sun, 4 to 9 a.m.
Non-residential (businesses) lawn watering schedule:
Even-numbered addresses: Mon, 1 to 6 a.m., Fri 4 to 9 am.
Odd-numbered addresses: Tues, 1 to 6 a.m., Fri 4 to 9 am
Gardening For Drought
Summer is tough on plants, gardens and gardeners. Prolonged high temperatures and shortage of rain takes it's toll especially on newly planted plants, shade plants and veggie gardens. There are simple techniques that can help plants and gardens survive the heat and dry conditions of summer. To learn more click on Drought Gardening.
May Garden Stars
May Garden Chores
Click on the coloured links to be redirected.
Plant Tomatoes & Other Tender Plants Outside: By mid-May the danger of frost has passed for most of Canada, which means it’s safe to plant tender plants outside: tomatoes, peppers, petunias, impatiens etc. In temperate regions, such as the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, early May is suitable. For more on vegetable gardening click on Growing Food - Spring Veggie Gardening
Plant Before the Summer. The earlier you get plants in the ground, the better as summer is just around the corner. Plant trees, shrubs, vines, fruit trees, bedding and vegetable plants. Alternately, autumn is an even better time to plant due to the warm soil and fall rains. To learn more about correct planting methods click on Planting Know-How.
Prepare Plants for the Outdoors (Hardening-Off): Before planting seedlings outside and putting houseplants and tropical plants outside for the summer, they must be acclimatized. Toughen them up by taking them outside for an hour in a protected area, away from the sun and wind, then bring them back indoors. Each day thereafter, increase the time, the duration and exposure to the elements. The process takes one to two weeks.
Greenhouses: It doesn’t take long for plants to bake when they’re in a greenhouse, even when it’s cool outdoors. To temper the sun, provide shading (netting, cloth etc.) on the south or west side. Open vents during the day and provide a fan to keep things cool and to circulate the air. Remember to close-up at night, especially when temperatures dip. Check on plants daily.
Feed Plants & Build Soil: Mix in compost, composted manure, leaves, SeaSoil, and/or triple mix into the soil in all your garden beds. Add it around existing plants such as roses, shrubs and trees. For more on soil building click here. To learn more about fertilizing plants click here.
Add Mulch. It reduces your workload! A 3-inch layer of organic mulch laid on top of the soil prevents weeds, reduces watering and improves soil fertility, so you don’t have to rely on fertilizers. Click here for more on how to apply mulch, its benefits and the different kinds.
Groundcovers instead of Mulch: Use dense, low growing evergreen plants to cover the ground to take the place of organic mulch. Be selective though as some can be quite aggressive. For more on ground covers, click here.
Vines: Control and secure wayward stems from clematis, wisteria, honeysuckle, climbing roses and other vines onto their supports so they don’t ensnare neighbouring plants.
Houseplants & tropicals: Transplant any of your plants that have roots growing out of the drainage holes, that need daily watering and/or are top-heavy. Loosen the roots with your hand before planting into bigger pots. Use fresh potting soil, slow release fertilizer according to the label, and firm the soil around the roots. Water and place in a well-lit area away from sunny windows for a couple of days until they perk up.
Most tropical plants and houseplants benefit from a summer vacation outside, but they must be acclimatized to the outdoors first. It's an easy process and takes about two weeks. Take them outside for an hour and place them in a protected area away from the wind, sun, heat & cold, then bring them back inside. Each day thereafter, take them out for longer and expose them to more of the elements until they can stay out all day and night.
Remove dead flowers: Deadhead tulips, daffodils, rhododendron, lilacs and ground covers such as heathers, aubretia, yellow alyssum (Alyssum saxatile) perennial candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) as soon as they have finished flowering. This promotes reflowering on some plants, reduces volunteers, keeps some plants more compact and improves the look of the plant and garden.
Compost: Activate your compost if you haven’t already done so. First turn existing compost, add water if dry, and add torn newspaper if too soggy. Once turned, add a green layer (veggie scraps etc.) then a brown layer (torn newspapers or dry leaves. Not composting yet because your worried about vermin? Compost issues? Learn more about composting here.
Sow seeds outside: It’s May so conditions are suitable to sow the seeds of corn, peas, sunflowers, poppies, beans, nasturtiums, carrots, lettuce and many other veggies and flowers in the garden. Read the back of seed packets for when to sow, seed depth and growing conditions. Don’t forget to add a label and keep the soil moist to ensure germination.
For a complete list West Coast Seeds. For more on sowing seeds select Growing Seeds Indoors and Growing Seeds Outdoors
Weed: Pull weeds out by their roots; don’t let them go to seed - or at least remove their flowers so they don't set seed. Moisten the soil beforehand for easier removal. Avoid using herbicides, even organic ones as they damage all plants, including weeds. Avoid applying on windy days and reapply every 7 days. Pull bindweed and horsetail out, don't dig as it spreads it even more. For more information click on Horsetail, the Weed.
Take softwood cuttings from shrubs and trees. It's an easy and fun way to quickly reproduce your favourite plants, without the cost of buying new. To learn more on the types of cuttings and when to do them, click here.
Spring bulbs: Snap off dead flower heads before they set seed. After flowering, feed with high nitrogen fertilizer (first number highest). Cut off leaves when they turn yellow and not before. Another option is to dig up the plants when the leaves are still green. Do it carefully so the bulb doesn’t snap off. Either pot them up or plant them where they aren’t so noticeable.
Save Money on Plants: When purchasing veggie and flowering plants, select ones in cell packs, not in 4- or 6-inch pots. Plants in cell packs are smaller, but they grow quickly. Opt for flowering annuals that are coming into bud and avoid those that have finished flowering. You want them to be in their prime in your garden, not in the store.
Make Perennials More Compact
Make Floppy Plants More Compact: Perform the Chelsea Chop in mid to late May on fall asters (michaelmas daisies) chrysanthemums, autumn joy sedums, garden phloxes, campanulas, balloon flowers and other perennials that tend to fall over. Cut each stem back by one third, just above a leaf or node. The remaining stems will produce multiple shoots resulting in denser growth and more flowers.
Support Your Plants: Use cages, stakes, bamboo, branches, trellises to support delphiniums, garden phlox, Michaelmas daisies (fall asters) and peonies. For a gentler, more natural approach, grow them amid bushy plants to provide them with support.
Eye Protection: Bamboo poles and other stakes can be quite painful if you don’t see them when you bend over. To prevent injuries, place tennis balls on the tips of all potential impalation devices.
Help Pollinators: Instead of eradicating all the weeds in your garden, including good old dandelions and clover, keep some for the bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Additionally, allow lettuce, kale, chard, carrots, radishes, broccoli, fennel to flower. Bees and butterflies love their blossoms, which results in plenty of seeds for us gardeners. Free, organic seeds are always a good thing. Don’t expect anything fancy as the resulting seeds will not have any special traits of their hybrid or cultivated parents.
For all pollinators, provide a shallow dish of water. For more on helping pollinators click here.
Planters: Save your money and make your own seasonal planters with plants you’ve grown yourself or buy starter plants. Use containers that have drainage holes and add potting soil. Add drainage trays under plant pots to act as a water reservoir to reduce watering, and to protect decks and patios.
Group plants that like the same conditions together. Read plant labels for growing condition preferences: sun, shade, moist soil, dry soil etc.
Combine shrubs, perennials, annuals, fruit and veggies together. Strawberries look adorable when dangling from the edge of a planter with a tall ornamental grass in the centre. Experiment and have fun with different plant combos and feel free to add ornaments .
For an effective design use the 'thriller, filler and spiller' method. Plant a tall plant, 'the thriller', in the middle or the back. Surround the filler with smaller, bushier plants. Around the rim of the pot, plant 'spillers' so they will trail over the pot rim.
Water well and place newly planted planters in a shady protected location for a few days for them to recover, then place them in their permanent location.
Containers with existing plants: Remove an inch or two of soil from the top of the pot and replace with some compost or SeaSoil. Repot ones that are potbound into a larger planter. Add petunias and other annuals to add some flowers and colour.
For more on containers click here.
May PLANT COMBO
The parking lot at Dart's Hill Garden Park in Surrey, BC is nicely landscaped with creative plant combinations. The lot is in full sun and surrounded by concrete parking stalls. This plant combination was very effective as it combines numerous textures in shades of green, with a splash of purple and yellow. The green plant on the left is a Chinese sedum (Sedum tetractinum), the yellow flowers belong to cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) and the purple flowers are Aubretia.
Send in the Plant Police to save this poor tree! There are numerous issues here. First, fabric under mulch does not stop weeds as the weeds grow in the mulch and through the fabric, making it difficult to remove them. The fabric also defeats the purpose and benefits of the mulch. There should be no barrier between the mulch and the soil. Earthworms and other beneficial soil organisms are unable to access the mulch so they can't convert it into food for plants. Another issue is the fabric around the trunk. It restricts the growth of the tree and eventually will strangle the tree. To rectify, rake the mulch away and place on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow, remove the fabric and replace the mulch. If the depth of the mulch is less than 3 inches then add some more so it is the correct depth. For more on mulch click on Mulch & Mulching.
IT'S GOING TO BE A HOT SUMMER!
Meteorologists from across the globe insist it’s going to be one hot summer, due to the influence of El Nino. El Nino is a climate pattern that causes the temperature of the Pacific Ocean to rise, increasing worldwide temperatures, especially North America. I don’t want my garden to fry so it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
ALL plants need water, especially when it hot and dry, this includes cedar hedges and trees. Don’t rely on rain. Take the time to water all your plants properly. Remember it's only lawns that are restricted to watering once a week in Metro Vancouver. And don't forget to mulch. It protects the soil from evaporation and the heat.
If you haven’t set up your sprinklers on a timer, do so. If you need more hoses, sprinklers and handheld sprayers, purchase them now before they are all sold out.
Pruning: Watch out for bird nests when pruning trees & shrubs. For more on pruning click here.
Pruning Hedges & Topiaries: It is tempting to prune all the new growth, but it’s best to wait until June when the foliage is not so tender.
Best time to prune: Cut back plants if needed, right after flowering so you don’t remove next year’s flowers.
Why Prune? Pruning promotes growth so don’t cut them back to make them smaller, as they’ll just regrow. It’s their genetics that defines their size, so purchase plants that fit the space, not the other way around.
Pruning Objectives: Remove dead, diseased, broken and spindly stems. Remove ones that grow towards the centre of the plant and ones in the way of pedestrians. Cut back overly long tree branches at a side branch or remove entirely.
After Pruning: Water and fertilize with compost, kelp, fish or other organic fertilizers to help them recover.
For more on How to Prune click here. To make pruning easier click on Pruning Tools.
If you need help in knowing what to prune in your garden and how to do it, register for an appointment by clicking here.
Clematis: Not all clematis are pruned at the same time. It depends on what group they belong to. When purchasing a clematis, remember to keep their labels so you know their name, group and pruning method. To learn more click on Pruning Clematis.
In The Veggie Garden
Designing Vegetable Gardens: Locate veggie gardens so all plants receive at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. This is essential for tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers and other warm season crops. For cool season crops, 4 to 6 hours might be adequate, but if it is too shady, cabbage may not form tight heads, while radishes and beets won’t form bulbs only an abundance of leaves.
For convenience, situate the vegetable garden close to the kitchen and an outdoor faucet. Four-foot wide beds make it easy to reach in from both sides. For larger beds, use cedar mulch on top of landscape fabric to make a two-foot wide path.
Raised beds are a good idea as they are easy to maintain and the soils warms faster in the spring. Place tall plants and vining veggies grown on trellises on the north side of so they don’t shade other crops. For more on vegetable gardening click here.
Veggie Garden Essentials: Improve soil by mixing in a couple of inches of compost, SeaSoil, triple mix or composted manure. Wait for the soil to settle, which takes up to a week, then plant. Water the plants the day before and the soil, especially if it is dry.
Spacing starter plants:
2 to 3 inches apart: garlic, spinach
4 inches apart: beets, leeks, onions and turnips
6 to 8 inches apart celery, leaf lettuce and Swiss chard
10 to 12 inches head lettuces, peppers
18 to 24 inches tomato, potatoes, cauliflowers and cabbages
Climbing Veggies: Place them on the north side of the bed so they don’t cast shade on the surrounding plants. To make an easy, reusable inexpensive trellis click here.
Intelligent Vegetable Gardening: Avoid monocultures and practice companion planting to increase yields, reduce nutrient loss, insects and diseases, while improving the flavour of your crops. To further reduce insects, diseases and nutrient loss, rotate your crops. It’s easy to extend harvests and to have continuous harvests with crop succession. Learn more click on Crop Rotation, Succession & Companion Planting
Potatoes: Don't add lime to the soil as it promotes potato scab. Plant seed potatoes in trenches and bury the stems as they grow. This increases yields and prevents green spuds. For more about growing spuds click here.
Rhubarb: Feed with a generous layer of compost mixed into the soil. Harvest in May to early July, no later. New plants should not be harvested until their 2nd year. Pull off the rhubarb stalks, don’t cut them.
Strawberries: Remove flowers during the first year. In subsequent years, remove runners so plants will dedicate their energy to produce strawberries. Once fruits form, allow the runners to make new plants.
Planting Tomatoes: Plant them in a different garden bed than the last three years to reduce diseases, insects and nutrient deficiencies. Allow 20 to 24 inches between plants. To plant a tomato plant, gently remove it from its pot then strip the leaves from the lower half of the stem. Bury the stem up to the remaining leaves then gently firm the soil around the plant. Add a stake to each plant and gently secure the stem with soft twine, but not too tightly. Surround the stem of each plant with a ‘tomato crater’ from Lee Valley Tools. It blocks weeds, deters cutworms, provides a water reservoir, increases yields, and warms the soil. To support the tomato plants, each one with a 3’ diameter cage. Water gently and thoroughly. For more information on tomatoes check out: Here are few links that you might be interesting in.
Organic Bug Control
Insects: We need them so avoid using pesticides, including organic pesticides, soap and water. Only use organic pesticides for severe infestations. Follow the instructions implicitly and don’t apply when it is windy and when the plant is in full sun.
Bug Barriers: To protect broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and leafy crops from cabbage butterfly, leaf miner, carrot rust fly and other insect pests place a floating row cover over the crops immediately after planting. To learn more click on Plant Pests Part 2 - Controlling Insects
Nighttime Insect Infestations: If you don't know what's eating your plants, go out at night with a flashlight to catch any nocturnal culprits. Handpick caterpillars and slugs if you're not squeamish, and place them in a cup of salty water.
Use potato traps: Place cut potatoes on top of the ground to attract pillbugs and wireworms.
Codling moths: Place pheromone traps in apple trees to decrease codling moth populations.
Caterpillars: Control caterpillars such as cabbage whites, when they get out of hand, with an organic option Bacillus thuringiensis. It only kills caterpillars, so avoid spraying near butterfly gardens.
Slugs & Snails: There are many ways to control these slimy plant nibblers from copper to slug bait. To learn about the many ways, click here.
There's a few things you need to know if you are growing roses - successfully. First off, they are hungry beauties, so provide them with an organic rich soil. Avoid synthetic fertilizers as they deplete the soil of essential microorganisms and organic matter. To provide a sustainable source of nutrients mix in a couple of inches of compost, SeaSoil or composted manure in the soil around rose bushes. For more enriching your soil click here.
Feed them this month, and after each flush of blossoms. Either give them some compost or use an organic fertilizer, high in the middle number (ex: 3-5-3) to promote more flowers. Avoid applying too much nitrogen fertilizers as they promote foliage, not flowers. To learn more about fertilizer ratios click here.
Remove all dead and diseased canes. Cut off all weak stems and ones that grow towards the plant’s centre. When shortening stems, cut just above an outward facing node or leaf.
Easy Roses: If you love roses but are too chicken to grow one, be brave and try one of the no fuss, low maintenance ones. They do exist and they are lovely. For more information click on Easy Roses: For more on roses click on the following links: Roses - Types of Roses - Climbing Roses - Pruning Roses - Rose Insects & Diseases - Portland's Rose Test Garden
Lawn Care For May
Mow: Set mower at 2.5 inches as longer grass prevents chafer beetles from laying their eggs and encourages stronger root growth so it’s healthier and tougher.
Cut off only 1/3rd of grass blades at each mowing so mow more often.
Feed: In late May, fertilize with a high nitrogen organic or slow release fertilizer. Avoid excessively high nitrogen lawn food, especially quick release ones. The grass will green up quickly and grow right in front of your eyes, however, it will become susceptible to a disease called Brown Patch.
Water. Long deep soaks that last an hour ensure the roots receive the water they need to survive. Anything less, isn’t going to cut it.
No watering? Not a good idea. Lawns sitting ducks for grubs, weeds. Death often ensues.
New Lawns: Install them asap; the sooner the better before it gets too hot and dry.
Fix Bad Patches: Get this done asap. Instead of sowing lawn seeds, consider cutting out pieces of healthy lawn in inconspicuous places and plant them in the bare spots. Another alternative is purchase a couple of pieces of sod and use that as patches.
For more on lawn reno click on Lawn Reno, Seed & Sod.
Mossy Lawns: If your lawn is causing you more trouble than its worth, consider converting it into a garden, a meadow, plant clover, install a patio, a pond. For more ideas click on Lawn Alternatives.
Lilacs, tulip and peonies are this month's featured flowers. For a numbered guide to the specific flower names and for other arrangements go to Monthly Flower Arrangements
Plant of the month
Common Name: deciduous azalea
Botanical Name: Rhododendron species & hybrids
Form: upright vase shape
Genus: Rhododendron, subgenus: Pentanthera
Species: 2 species and subsequent hybrids
Plant Type: deciduous shrub
Mature Size: 4’-8’ x 4’x 8’, but varies depending on species
Origin: Eastern North America, Asia & Europe
Hardiness Zone: 4 to 10 depending on species
Foliage: emerge after flowers, green, elliptic, soft, hairy (pubescent), pinnate, narrow, up to 3” long, new leaves tinged bronze or red, then they turn purple, orange and red in autumn
Flowers: racemes of tube or funnel shaped, 5 petals, maybe double, held in clusters, spring, pink, orange, yellow, white, rose, salmon
Fruit: brown, capsules that slit open, hybrids are generally infertile
Stems: leaves are alternate on woody stems
Exposure: part sun to full sun (in temperate climates)
Soil: an acid rich (pH 4.5-6.0) moist soil with good drainage, add plenty of compost and a layer of mulch, do not like dry soil
Uses: attracts pollinators, fall colour, dear resistant
Propagation: seeds, layering, cuttings
Pruning: immediately after flowering, generally not needed
Problems: scale insects, spray with dormant oil in late winter
Deciduous azaleas are members of the rhododendron family. They are the odd guy out as, unlike their cousins, they are not evergreen. Their flowers are similar, except the deciduous azaleas bear colours that their counterparts do not. Instead of only red, white, pink and purple flowers, deciduous azaleas are neon bright in oranges, yellows, pinks, whites and reds. Some have ultra long stamens that resemble long eyelashes, and most are deliciously fragrant. Hummingbirds and butterflies love their sweet nectar and pollen.
Deciduous azaleas are members of the Rhododendron genus, subsection Pentanthera. Many species are hardier than evergreen rhododendrons and azaleas. Their form is delicate as their branches and leaves are smaller, thinner, and are sprinkled with soft foliage on airy stems.
Deciduous azaleas have two types of buds: flower cluster buds and leafy shoot buds. Flowers have five petals that flair out like trumpets. They only have 5 stamens, compared rhododendrons that have 10. Flowers are born in large clusters in trusses at the end of stems.
Blossoms appear in spring before the leaves do. They are the brilliant beacons in woodland gardens when other plants have yet to don foliage. Their simple, green, small soft hairy leaves turn brilliant colours in the fall, which adds another layer of interest.
Despite the lack of leaves during the winter, their bare stems look pretty good. Deciduous azaleas have an attractive upright spreading form and provide the garden with some good winter bones.
Care: Group deciduous azaleas together as understory planting among trees for a creative flower show. They love the dappled shade and bring light, life and attention to shady corners.
Azaleas are shallow rooted and must be mulched with 3 inches of an organic mulch. These are acid loving plants and need a low pH of around 5. Yellow foliage and lack of growth are sure signs that the soil pH is too high. Use compost, kelp and other organic plant food to promote an acid pH of 4.5-6.0. There are also acidifying fertilizers available specifically for acid loving plants. Refrain from fertilizing after July, unless the pH is high. Fertilizing after July may delay dormancy, which might contribute to winterkill. And don’t forget to mulch.
Here are a few of the numerous types of deciduous azaleas. Ensure they have moist soil with good drainage and not full afternoon sun especially when grown in the south.
THE GARDEN WEBSITE INDEX
Click on the links below to be redirected.
for the tropical Gardener
While working in Florida as horticultural consultant, it became apparent that there was a need for a book on tropical shrubs. There are so many wonderful shrubs to choose from, so I wrote a reference book to make the selections easier. Ornamental Tropical Shrubs includes pictures in full colour and information about the plants in point form. So if you live in the tropics and subtropics and need a reference book on tropical shrubs, or you just want to have a look-see click here.
Copyright 2017 The Garden Website.com, Amanda's Garden Consulting Company - All Rights Reserved