Embracing May


What’s in Bloom?  NGB has proclaimed 2017 to be "Year of the Rose."  Mom’s special day will be even more special when you choose from among newly arrived roses.  As this month progresses, the blooms of May include viburnum, weeping pea tree, rhododendron, azalea, lilac, cotoneaster, broom, spirea, enkianthus, and mountain laurel... among others.  Fruit trees, small fruits, perennials, flats of annuals, vegetable seedlings, colorful hanging baskets and tropical patio specimens round out the selections that bring smiles with every garden center visit.


Frost issues and Zone 5 - By the end of May, we are quite safe from danger of frost and this is our traditional "safe date." However, by the middle of May, most of us are setting out annual and vegetable transplants, with "relative safety."  This year?  May 10th is the full moon... we can experience frost within 2-3 days (before or after).  Plan accordingly, as you sow the seeds, plant  tender annuals, herbs or vegetables... forewarned is forearmed.  If you’re planting early, stand by with frost protection measures and monitor the evening forecasts.  May 30th is the frost-free date upon which we can all rely.


Mason Bees ~ A Reminder...These hardy, solitary, native bees, have been active since early spring (earlier than temperature-sensitive honeybees), pollinating our ornamental and fruiting plants and are invaluable for pollinating backyard fruit trees.  They have a fairly short season of activity and are busily seeking nesting sites and laying eggs for next season.  Mount nesting tubes now, to encourage the presence of these valuable pollinators.  This will keep the mason bees cross-pollinating those fruit trees, for years to come.


Keep a watchful eye out for these pests...Winter Moth, Gypsy Moth, Eastern Tent Caterpillar, Hemlock Woolley Adelgid, Euonymus Caterpillar, Azalea Sawfly Caterpillar, Viburnum leaf beetle, Snowball Aphid on certain Viburnums, Lily Leaf Beetle, European Pine Sawfly, Eastern Spruce Gall Adelgid, Boxwood Psyllid, Inkberry Leafminer, Spruce Spider Mite and the Honeylocust Plantbug.  Present  samples or digital photos at your local independent garden center for ID and the safest, yet most effective, controls.  


Lessen impact on bees and beneficials through conservative use of properly timed applications of materials with a higher safety rating...neem oil, mineral and plant oil-based controls, insecticidal soaps and bacterial-based products are among those to consider.  Beneficial nematodes, native ladybugs and praying mantis egg cases arrive during May and are an important part of a natural, biological pest management program.  When plant and insect worlds collide, requiring intervention, opt for safer controls.  Prevention should not be overlooked, nor should encouraging backyard birds for insect control.  Choose organic weed controls.


After a winter that outstayed its welcome, how wonderful to embrace the soft breezes, warm sun and all the joys of spring's true arrival.  Enrich your soil with compost, apply organic plant foods, sow seed, harden-off and transplant seedlings, mount bird houses, install rain barrels, plant trees and shrubs, pick up a garden center gift certificate for short, embrace May!  


Written by Deb Lambert, for Corliss Bros. Garden Center & Nursery…Ipswich, MA

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