California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

May Garden Calendar

May brings the peak bloom for many gardens. May is a spectacular month in the garden any year. With the early rains the wildflowers have been spectacular and the garden is too. Planting is good, the soil is still naturally moist in many gardens. A thought on how to choose your plants. If they are blooming spectacularly in their container it will be a tough plant to establish. The main energy focus for your blooming plant will be making seeds, not roots. I dig my hole for my plant no deeper than the rootball in the container and often a little less so the top of the roots will be a little higher than the surrounding grade. I soak the hole if the ground is dry or water thoroughly once I have placed the plant if the soil is workable. For the first couple of weeks even a drought tolerant plant will require some extra attention. May can be one of the hardest working months in the garden. As we have seen in recent years fire is a huge risk even if your house is not out in the wilds. Cleanup and thoughtful plantings can improve the odds that your house will still be there if a fire comes through. May flowers if left on the plants often shorten the bloom period significantly. I try to trim off spent flowers and seedpods for many of the plants in my landscape to push that blooming season into Summer.

May Garden Calendar

Native Penstemons attract both hummingbirds and butterflies Penstemon grinnellii. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

May Garden Calendar

Lower growing plants such as this Salvia Bees Bliss attract native pollinators and have a lower volumn and there for present a lower fire risk than the full height chaparral and coastal sage scrub plants. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

The soil is finally warm enough for Summer Crops such as squash, beans and tomatos. My peas were slow to start but are in full season now. I planted a lot of garlic. I love the hard neck varieties and they are harder to find at the store. My winter greens are bolting and I have begun to pull them out. I planted a lot of native plants this year to fill in for where plants were lost in the drought. They are establishing well but still require a little extra irrigation to get them established. I watch the plants rather than watering on a set schedule. The longer they wait the more their roots have time to find water in the soil. This helps tremendously once things warm up as the roots utilize a larger area of soil. The tips of the branches often start to nod and the luster of the leaves goes flat. Once I see this I start to water. A layer of compost helps to keep the soil moist longer and reduces the problems with a crust forming so the water can't soak in.