This month provides the gardener with many challenges as the early blooming shrubs are still blooming or have just finished and will need some care when they are finished blooming.
You will also be making beds for new annuals and perennials and dividing overgrown perennials. You might also be adding new shrubs to the landscape, or you might go more with natural areas and might need to remove some grass.
It is time to prune early spring blooming plants such as forsythia, spirea and quince. Select a few of the longest branches that are arching over and prune them back close to the ground so they will develop new shoots. Shearing these types of plants makes them lose their graceful arching feature that they are known for.
If you have not fertilized your shrubs yet, do so now, at one tablespoonful per foot height of plant, and scatter the fertilizer at the drip line (end of limbs) and water in. You do not have to remove the mulch when fertilizing.
It is time to plant annuals and perennials to the garden and to divide perennials like daylilies, coneflowers, phlox, coreopsis, Shasta daisies and stokesia. Make sure when you divide your perennials that you work up the ground with organic matter, dolomitic lime and fertilizer, as you will not be moving these plants for a couple of years.
When soil temperature gets around 70 degrees, it will be time to fertilize your lawn. Consider the grass ready for fertilizer once you take off a cutting of grass without lowering the lawn mower blade.
When planting herbs, plant the ones you will use and then plant a lot more of the herbs you use a lot of. You might consider making another planting or two of basil or cilantro in a couple of weeks if you use these herbs a lot, so you have a steady supply coming in.
It is time to plant the rest of your vegetables except okra, Southern peas and lima beans as these plants like warm soil temperatures. Consider planting those vegetables after some of your early-season crops have finished, like potatoes, lettuce, English peas or radishes.
By waiting, especially with okra (mid-May), the plant will keep growing into the fall instead of topping out at three to four feet in late July or early August.
Keep the garden ground well mulched to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. Water vegetables regularly for top production.
Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.