We’re all wishing for good rains this winter, but while we wait, get your garden ready for the cooler months ahead. This is what’s on your to-do list for May:
Plant and sow
- Clear the fallen leaves and other debris out of your gutters.
- Cut back Michaelmas daisies, penstemon, chrysanthemum, obedience plants, plectranthus, dahlias and cannas.
- Collect rainwater to use in the garden later.
- Plant drought-tolerant varieties such as bougainvillea, wild iris (Dietes grandiflora) yellow wild iris (Dietes bicolor), spekboom (Portulacaria afra), plumbago, Tulbaghia, duinekraaibessie (Searsia crenata), Margaret Roberts lavender, Pelargonium Geranium Maverick, Leucadendron, Natal plum (Carissa marcrocarpa), De Wet aloes, proteas and rosemary.
- Plant seedlings such as pansies, carnations, dianthus, cineraria, phlox, salvia, poppies, verbena, primula and strawberries.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs such as iris, freesia, ixia, narcissus, chincherinchee, ranunculus, sparaxis and tritonia.
- Plant indigenous fynbos and shrubs such as protea, erica, conebush and pincushion.
- Sow seeds of cornflower, sweet pea, alyssum, African daisy, linaria, lobelia and Virginian stocks. TIP: Encourage efficient sweet pea growth by mulching regularly, snipping off new tendrils and side shoots and using a trellis or stake to keep individual plants upright.
- Sow winter veggies: broad beans, beetroot, celery, peas, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, onions, lettuce, garlic, leeks, parsnips, turnips, parsley and asparagus. TIP: when digging trenches to plant asparagus, the crowns must be spaced 45cm apart, so ensure the trench width is 45cm wide and then dig 25 to 30cm deep.
- Azaleas, camellias and tea bushes with a handful of 3:1:5 per bush. Mulch with compost and keep well watered
- Lawns with a handful of 2:3:2 per square metre before rainfall
- Spring-flowering bulbs with bulb food and keep the soil moist at all times
- Yesterday, today and tomorrow with magnesium sulphate
- Indoor plants like calceolarias, cinerarias, cyclamen, daffodils, hyacinths, jonquils, poinsettias and primulas every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser. Water every three days or when the soil feels dry.
- Discontinue feeding pot plants. Water less frequently, but don’t let the plants become dry.
- Thin out citrus trees as well as other evergreen fruit trees.
- Tidy up summer- and autumn-flowering shrubs, including lavender, ribbon bush, plumbago, hydrangea, wild dagga and barleria.
- Maintain size and shape of conifers with light pruning.
- Climbers like golden shower tree, canary creeper, clematis and wisteria also benefit from pruning in autumn.
- Treat conifers with Koinor or Bioneem to tackle aphid infestations.
- Spray roses, pelargoniums and geraniums with a fungicide like Dithane M45 to prevent rust, mildew and black spot. (Spray under the leaves too.)
- Try organic snail bait like Ferramol or surround precious seedlings with crushed egg shells, sawdust or coffee grounds to curb pests.
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