May in Your Garden

Your May Gardening Guide


  • Lily bulbs will land on the shelves this month. Plant them as soon as they are available.  Trim the flower stalks on old Liliums to ground level.
  • Continue planting spring-flowering bulbs. Water bulbs deeply and ensure they never dry out completely.  Feed fortnightly with bulb food or organic 3:1:5.  Keep feeding fading bulbs to boost them for next season.
  • Dead-head winter-flowering annuals to encourage further flowers. Continue planting winter-flowering seedlings like Pansies, Violas, Poppies, Primulas, Calendula, Stocks, Sweet Peas, Cineraria, Primulas and Primroses.  Feed fortnightly with seedling food or liquid fertiliser.  Mulch well.
  • May is the perfect month for planting roses. Come spring they will be settled and you will be rewarded with strong growth and lovely blooms.   Choose from our incredibly wide variety of roses.
  • Plant and transplant trees, vines, shrubs and hedging plants now.
  • Aloes will add warmth and vibrancy to your winter garden, plus they’re waterwise and very easy to maintain. The added bonus is that they’re on promotion at Lifestyle right now, waiting to be planted into your beds, rockeries and containers.
  • Bring colour indoors with flowering indoor plants like Cyclamen, Chrysanthemum and beautiful Phalaenopsis and Cymbidium orchids. Hyacinth bulbs can also still be planted in pots on a bright window sill from where they will lend fragrance to any room.  Feed once a month with a liquid plant food for indoor plants.  Feed orchids in flower with a specially formulated orchid food.
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In the Vegetable Garden:

  • Remove the last of the spent summer veg and plant Swiss chard, leeks, brassicas, peas, winter lettuce and oriental greens.
  • Thin out seedlings of seeds that were sown in-situ if needed and feed all seedlings with seedling food or a water-soluble fertiliser. Mulch well to keep their little roots warm.
  • May is a good time to lift, divide and replant perennial vegetables like lemongrass, chives and artichokes.
  • Plant strawberries and mulch them well.
  • Prepare beds in full sun for asparagus corms, which will arrive on our shelves later in May.
  • Feed vegetables with an organic 8:1:5 or 6:3:4 fertiliser.
  • Cabbages are prone to aphids. Spray preventatively with an organic aphicide.  Interplant with Sage to deter white fly and Calendula, pennyroyal or chives to repel aphids.
  • Also keep an eye open for signs of cutworm around young vegetable seedlings and place bait if necessary.

Sowing Guide:

  • Flowers: African Daisy, Calendula, Diascia, Namaqualand Daisy, Nemesia, Pansies and Sweet Peas
  • Vegetables: Broad Beans, Onions, Peas, Chinese Cabbage, Winter Lettuce, Mustard, Oriental Greens, Radish, Swiss Chard and Parsnips
  • Herbs: Rocket and Coriander

Although it is too late to sow a many varieties of flowers, herbs and vegetables at this time of year, hardened-off winter seedlings are available in the nursery to be planted now. Get a very good overview of sowing seeds |HERE|

In General:

  • Change the settings on your irrigation system to suit the temperature and rainfall for autumn.
  • Deadhead rose bushes and spray fortnightly with a fungicide to combat black spot.
  • The average first date for heavy frost in Gauteng is the 19th of May so stock up on frost protection fleece or hessian in time to protect tender plants. Move sensitive potted plants to a protected spot.
  • Water the garden early in the day and mulch generously around all plants to protect roots. Always leave some space around the stems of plants when mulching to prevent disease. Feed with an organic 3:1:5 fertiliser to strengthen cell walls and control evaporation.
  • Spread a layer of acid compost around Camellias and Azaleas and keep them moist to prevent bud drop.
  • Mow lawns on a high setting and water if dry. Do a last overseeding with evergreen, cold tolerant lawn seed.
  • Start collecting all the fallen autumn leaves and use as a mulch or add to the compost heap. Alternatively collect leaves in black plastic bags and leave to decompose into wonderful leave mold.  Mind that you don’t use diseased leaves though.

Indoor Plants:

As days cool down, indoor plants will need less watering and can very easily become waterlogged.  Keep an eye on them and allow the surface soil to dry out slightly before watering again.  Do the finger test: stick your finger in the soil up to the first joint and if it feels moist, wait a bit longer with watering.

LIGHT BULB MOMENT:  Draw a rough plan of your garden and mark the position of plants that will die back in winter, like Echinacea, Hostas, Alstroemeria and Eucomis and other bulbs to prevent damage and overplanting.

For Goodness Sake:

  • Feed the birds more regularly as their natural food sources start to run low. Include suet in your feeding programme to provide them with a source of fat and energy.
  • See our Kids Korner blog on how to make bird feeders |HERE|
  • Invest in plants like Wild Dagga and Aloes for nectar-feeding birds and wild grasses for seed-feeders.
  • Don’t neglect cleaning birdbaths as birds still enjoy a good splash on the warmer days!

Last, but most certainly not the least, Sunday, the 8th of May, is Mother’s Day.  Spoil the mom in your life with a specially wrapped gift plant, fresh flowers, a favourite rose, something from our décor section or a Lifestyle gift voucher.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

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