Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Northern & Central Midwest

May, 2006
Regional Report

Plant Warm-Season Annuals

After you pass your average last frost date, you can plant warm-season annuals, herbs, and vegetables. Hold tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash until the soil warms considerably before putting them out. Harden off plants well, pinch back one-third of new growth to encourage stocky habit, and avoid fertilizing newly planted annuals for two weeks.

Check Containers Daily

Monitor all annual plantings in windowboxes and containers.
On warm, windy days, hanging baskets, windowboxes, and containers may require daily watering. Check frequently for moisture levels and always wet the soil thoroughly before fertilizing. Terra cotta pots will dry out faster than plastic. Water-absorbent granules may help reduce watering needs when incorporated into soil.

Prune Spring-Flowering Shrubs

Spring-flowering shrubs and trees, such forsythia, viburnums, lilacs, small magnolias, rhododendrons, and azaleas, need to be pruned as soon as they finish blooming. Prune old canes of forsythia and lilac to the ground, and lightly prune other branches as needed for aesthetics. Pruning out lilac seedheads will help increase flower production next year.

Move Houseplants Outdoors

Gradually move houseplants outside to protected areas. Put large houseplants into larger, heavier pots to prevent them from falling over in wind. Keep in mind that even full-sun houseplants should get only partial sun outdoors. Carefully monitor for moisture just as with other container plants. They can dry out very quickly.

Don't Destroy Those Spiders!

Whether you have beautiful orb spiders in bright colors sitting on their round, flat, wheel-like webs in the garden, or fuzzy black hunting spiders that jump around the garden and pounce on unsuspecting insects, spiders eat many times their weight in garden pests. It's like having a free pest control service!


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