What to do in your garden in May

PLANTING

• Annuals. As the weather warms up, sow seeds or plantseedlings of sun lovers such as cosmos, marigolds, nasturtiums,pelargoniums, petunias, and zinnias. In shady places, set outbegonias, coleus, impatiens,and violas.

• Fuchsias. Train red-and-white 'Swingtime' fuchsia ona trellis in a large pot and display on the front porch. Growred-and-purple 'Bright Eyes' in a hanging basket or pink'Southgate' in a window box. For large containers on a patio,combine orange-red 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' fuchsia with abronze-leafed New Zealand flax. To create bushy plants, pinchfuchsias back every few weeks. Feed and water plants regularlythrough the summer.

• Groundcover. If you like blue star creeper (Pratia pedunculata), consider growing 'County Park', 'DarkBlue', or 'Kelsey Blue', which have brighter blue flowers than thespecies.

Herbs.Now is a good time to plant annual herbs such as basil, borage, andparsley, and perennial ones like chives, mint,oregano, rosemary, and thyme.

• Spring perennials. Plant 'Color Flash' astilbe,bleeding heart, 'Origami' columbine, deer fern, and sweet woodruffin shade; and lady's-mantle, Russell hybrid lupine, and 'FruitPunch' or 'Patty's Plum' Oriental poppies in sun.

• Trees and shrubs. Before you buy a tree or shrub forthe garden, check out the grown-up version. You can view labeledmature specimens of crabapples, dogwoods, dove tree, empress tree,hawthorns, and many other plants at any arboretum.

• Vegetables. Grow beans and corn from seed, andeggplant, peppers, and tomatoes from seedlings.Start cucumbers, melons, and squash from seed ( Sunset climate zones 3a-3b, 6-7) or seedlings (zones A1-A3,4-5).

MAINTENANCE

• Control aphids. Whenever you notice aphids attackingplants, blast them off with a jet of water from the hose, and youprobably won't need to use a pesticide. If water doesn't work andinfestations build up to large numbers, spray with insecticidalsoap.

• Deadhead wisterias. If you nip off Chinese wisteriaflowers as they're fading, the plants will usually respond witha strong show of new blooms in July.

• Fertilize plants. With everything you plant thismonth, dig slow-release fertilizer into the backfill (excavatedsoil returned to the area), then water well.

• Prune. As soon as blooming is finished on azaleas,camellias, forsythias, lilacs, rhododendrons, and otherspring-flowering plants, prune them for shape. If you prune later,you'll cut off next spring's buds.

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