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May Gardening Tips

Conway Area Master Gardener Association

Now is the time  to mulch, mulch, mulch and then mulch some more.

We want to help cool the roots of the plants, reduce weeds and conserve water.
Remember not to allow the mulch to get too close to trunks and stems.
Leave at least 2-3 inches around the trunks to keep rodents from nesting too close to the bark and end up girdeling the tree.
Other pests and diseases can also infect the plant.
If plants are looking a little under the weather, being less green than they should, try spraying a weak mixture of a foliar spray of
Epsom Salts and water.
Prune spring flowering shrubs to keep them in shape.  These can be azaleas, forsythia, and others.
Deadheading, pinching dead flowers off, will help keep annuals blooming and blooming all summer long.
Resist the desire to cut off the leaves of daffodils, tulips and other spring flowering bulbs. 
The bulb needs the leaves to continue producing growth in them.
Some summer flowering shrubs that can do well in our area are: butterfly bush; hardyhibiscus, several kinds; hydrangea; and
Sun loving perennials that do well here are: daylilies, cosmos, salvia, coneflower, Geraniums, canas, Clematis, sedum, petunias.
Impatiens belong in the shade.  Especially in the hot afternoons.  They also need pleanty of water.
Our last frost date was early April, but what a frost!!!  However most shrubs are coming back. 
Annuals that have a large water content
may not have made it, though ie. Coleus, impatiens.
Water new plantings well, until they are established.  For annuals it means 3-4 weeks, but for shrubs and trees means 1-2 years.
For deck and patio container plants be sure to fertilize them every 2 weeks or use a slow release granule fertilizer.

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Lawns - Fertilize after April 15 ( last possible freeze ) but, only after if the lawn has been completely green for at least two weeks (usually around May 15). Never fertilize wet grass.  Use correctly adjusted spreader.  After use flush out spreader with plenty of water and water lawn to water fertilizer granules into turf. Use only a fertilizer specified for your type of grass. For centipede or St Augustine, use a low middle number (phosphorous) such as 16-2-8.

Read the entire label before buying the fertilizer. Often, a statement on the back will say "not for centipede, etc".

It is very important to know what type of grass you have, since grasses differ as to the type of care required to grow a healthy lawn.

Bringing soil samples to Clemson Extension Services for testing will show you what should be added to your lawn or garden for proper growing conditions..


Centipede and carpetgrass tolerates only a small amount of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer will kill your grass.

Recommended Amounts of Fertilizer:

Centipede      1/2 - 1 lbs Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft of lawn

Carpetgrass   1/2 - 1 lbs Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft of lawn

St Augustine     2 - 3 lbs Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft of lawn

Bermuda Grass 2-5 lbs Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft of lawn

Zoysiagrass       1-3 lbs Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft of lawn 

Water your lawn only when the lawn requires water.

Water early in the morning. Evening watering can cause desease, since the lawn stays wet all night.

Shrubs - Most shrubs that blume in the spring should be pruned  after flowering, if they need pruning.

If you have heavy aphid problems, a systemic can be watered in around the plant.

If you are having a problem with a plant, go to one of the locale plant clinics manned by area master gardeners.

Bulbs - Leave bulb foliage until it turns yellow.  This feeds the bulb for next season’s flowers. If you mark gaps in your bulb displays you will know where to add more in the Fall.

Trees and Shrubs - Prune dead wood out of trees and shrubs and prune flowering varieties after they blossom.   Check for borers at the base of any unhealthy shrub and ask extension agent which control to use.

Spring planted shrubs probably need feeding.  Apply  half a cup of 5.10.10. or 6.12.12 per shrub.  Feed again in July.

Aphids - Watch for aphids and spray any you find with insecticidal soap.

Azaleas - After bloom cut back and feed with slow release azalea fertilizer that contains iron and other minor elements. 

Chrysanthemums  - Let them bloom before cutting back for Fall flowers.  Before August cut to within six inches of the ground.

Clematis    They prefer to have their roots in the shade and their tops in the sun.   Enrich poor soil with organic matter.

Container plants   Keep well watered and fertilize every three to four weeks with water soluble fertilizer.

Mulch   Apply 2-3” to keep soil moist and cool.

Roses spray for blackspot.

Suckers   Small sprouts can be easily removed by hand.   If you let them grow you will have to use pruners.

Annuals Start planting annuals after April 15 (last possible freezing weather). Now is the time to plant bulbs, corms and tubers for flowers through the Fall. 

Vegetables   It’s planting time for most warms season vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper plants, squash, peas and beans. 

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