May Gardening Tips

Try one or more of the Texas Superstars (TM) this year in your garden. They are worth searching out for their outstanding performance in Texas gardens. Here are a few of the Superstars that will add great impact in the sunny spots of your yard:

Perennials: Red and Pink Flare Hibiscus, Gold Star Esperanza, Firebush, New Gold Lantana, ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ Salvia, ‘Henry Duelberg’ Salvia, and ‘John Fannick’ Phlox.

Annuals: a new addition to the SuperStar list in 2011 is the Serena series of Angelonia, also called Summer Snapdragon. Their small but abundant flowers resemble snapdragon flowers which will be fading once summer heat arrives. But not Angelonia – the spikes of upright flowers bloom all through summer. Some other annuals include ‘Blue Wonder’ Scaevola, Silver and Cherry Tidalwave Petunia, and Dakota Gold Helenium.

More information on the Texas Superstar program and plants can be found at: texassuperstar.com

Flower Bed Maintenance. Resist the temptation to cut off the limp remains of your spring bulb foliage. Allow the leaves of daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs to mature and yellow before removing. Do not hide or cover their leaves. Once the leaves turn yellow, you can safely dig and divide them. Dividing and separating is important if most of the plants did not flower this year.

Pinch back growth of newly planted annual and perennial plants. This results in shorter, compact plants with more flowers.

If your azaleas need taming, now is the time to prune them back. If you find you have to severely prune them every year to manage their size, consider replacing them with a smaller growing variety that requires less maintenance.

Prune climbing roses as they complete their spring bloom season. Remove dead or weak wood as needed.

Lawns. The first application of fertilizer for centipede lawns should be made now, and if you have not yet fertilized St. Augustine or Bermuda grass, it is certainly not too late. The best way to determine what type and how much fertilizer is needed is to have a soil test done; otherwise use a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 fertilizer ratio.

May is also a good time to establish a new lawn, or patch dead spots in an existing lawn, with centipede or Bermuda grass seed, or sod of any of the adapted lawn grasses for our area. The warmer temperatures of May will support faster establishment without having to water as often if you waited until the full heat of summer.

Vegetables. As soon as tomatoes and peppers set fruit, lightly apply nitrogen fertilizer (called side dressing) about 12 to 14 inches from the base of the plants. This supplemental feeding keeps the plants vigorous and growing, allowing them to set and mature the maximum amount of fruit without stunting the growth of the plants. Do this every few weeks.

Many onions are flowering, sending up seedstalks in the middle of the bulb, resulting in a hollow center, which means the onions will not keep as long. Use those up first. Flowering is triggered when onion plants greater than ¼ inch in diameter are exposed to cold temperatures.

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