May To Do List

crinum lily austin texas

Plant: ornamental & wildlife

  • Annuals:  zinnia, cosmos, sunflower, celosia, penta, periwinkle, gomphrena, portulaca and other “ice” plant succulents, Mexican sunflower, salvia coccinea
  • Perennials & vines:  (shade them for a week or so)
  • Semi-tropicals like Pride of Barbados
  • Tropical plants
  • Succulents
  • Crinum lilies, cannas, caladiums, ginger
  • Ornamental (clumping) grasses like muhly and Mexican feather grass
  • Clean up and replant containers—annuals, perennials, herbs, hibiscus, vegetables in larger containers
  • Top new containers with light layer of mulch to conserve water; use decomposed granite, pea gravel or other grit for potted succulents

Plant: herbs


  • Spring flowering shrubs, vines, and roses that bloom only in spring
  • Trees: DO NOT prune red oaks and live oaks unless damaged. Spray immediately with clear varnish.
  • No need to apply pruning paint to other trees
  • Dead head flowering plants
  • Cut back fall blooming perennials like aster
  • Prune spring bulbs only when foliage is brown
  • Remove sucker shoots from tomato plants to get earlier, larger fruit
  • Cut back spring bulbs that are brown


  • Succulents
  • Spring blooming bulbs while you can still see them!


  • Foliar feed flowers and vegetables with liquid seaweed
  • Bougainvillea with high nitrogen
  • Citrus with high nitrogen fertilizer like Citrus-tone. Fertilize every few weeks through growing season.


  • Watch for aphids and spider mites. It’s easy to spray them off with a hard blast of water. Be sure to get the undersides of the leaves.
  • Ladybugs and green lacewings will be chomping down those aphids, so watch for them and their larvae.
  • Aphids and other insects can create sooty mold on plants, a fungus that develops from their secretions (honeydew). Wash off the culprits and the leaves. Remove damaged leaves to the trash (not the compost pile).
  • Walk the garden in early morning to pick off stink bugs and largus bugs from tomatoes. Check under the leaves for eggs.
  • Deploy grasshoppers while young. If you wait, you won’t be able to deal with them. Effective baits include Nolo Bait or Semaspore.  Both contain a protozoa called Nosema locustae which is impregnated in bran flakes sweetened with sugar. Apply by hand or with a rotary spreader, early in the morning, when grasshoppers are feeding.


  • Move the lawn mower setting up to high. As we head into summer, keep the roots cool by leaving the grass long. Don’t remove more than 1/3 of the top at a time. Leave clippings on the lawn to naturally fertilize.

Other tasks

  • Collect seeds from spring blooming plants. Clean off the chaff and let dry indoors. Store in jars, envelopes, or paper bags (not plastic) to plant in November
  • Mulch, but avoid touching the base of trees and roses
  • WEED! Do not let weeds go to seed. Do not apply chemicals: pull them up or mow down before they set seed.
  • Watch for powdery mildew. Apply a natural fungicide like Serenade if necessary. Generally, it goes away naturally. Avoid watering leaves at night.
  • Deeply water new plants. Even if rain comes, check the soil to 3” deep to make sure their roots have water.  A brief shower doesn’t mean it penetrated to the roots.
  • Keep a garden journal to note bloom times and insect habits.


  • Prune herbs often to encourage new growth
  • Walk the garden in early morning to pick off stink bugs and largus bugs from tomatoes. Look under the leaves to for their eggs.
  • Water fruit and nut trees deeply to avoid fruit drop-off

Tips for all 12 months