Metro Vancouver Gardening: Your Guide to May Gardening Projects

Here are some quick tips on what you can do in your garden this month.

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Here’s a guide to what you can do in your garden this month:


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• Buy summer-colored plants, tender annuals and perennials to plant in containers, hanging baskets and planters as well as flower beds. Have fun showing your creativity by choosing striking combinations.

• Last chance to plant perennials before they get so tall they start to drop. You can use special stakes or tie things with string or use garden netting.

• Finish cutting the forsythia, ribes and chaenomeles, cutting dead, diseased and damaged wood. Cut the branches into healthy buds or leafy side shoots.

Train your clematis in the right direction to keep it from getting tangled.
Train your clematis in the right direction to keep it from getting tangled. Photo by PNG files

• Prune clematis that bloomed in early spring, such as C. alpina, C. macropetala, C. montana, and the popular evergreen clematis, C. armandii. This will give them time to bounce back and produce growth for the next year.


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• Continue to “forage” the potatoes, which means pulling the soil over them into a 23 cm (9 inch) mound to protect the tubers from light.

• Give late-flowering perennials what is known in England as the “Chelsea chop” because it is a chore that coincides with the Chelsea Flower Show. Pinch off the tips of chrysanthemums and asters or cut with secateurs by a third to favor the bush.

Remove the heads of the alliums once they have lost their color.
Remove the heads of the alliums once they have lost their color. Photo by Stuart Davis /PNG files

• Remove the allium foliage. They will start looking messy by the end of the month.

• Immediately get on top of the morning glory when you see it starting to move through vines and around perennials. Try to cut it without damaging the host plant. Try to extract as much of the root system without breaking it into pieces.

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• Cut back aubrietia and perennial alyssums to promote continued growth and possible new flowering.


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• Don’t mow your lawn too short. This makes it easier for the chafer to penetrate the soil to lay eggs. Longer grass also means stronger root systems that are more resistant to diseases and pests.

Divide the muscari tufts to create new colonies.
Divide the muscari tufts to create new colonies. Photo by PNG files

• Lift and divide the clumps of daffodils and other naturalizing spring-flowering bulbs such as snowdrops, scilla and muscari.

• Directly sow the seeds of annuals, such as zinnias and love in the mist. Make a second seedling of snapdragons. Sow biennial seeds like Foxgloves, Honesty, and Wallflowers.

• Remember to continue watering during dry periods to ensure good fruit set and fruit development on trees and shrubs.

• Resist planting basil or tomatoes until the end of the month. Basil needs warm nighttime temperatures as well as warm days.


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• Substitute winter-flowering pansies and wallflowers and potted primroses with annuals and perennials.

• Store hellebores if they look faded. Cut away old leaves to make room for all the healthy new growth.

Buy warm-season grasses like pennisetum now.
Buy warm-season grasses like pennisetum now. Photo by Ward Perrin /PNG files

• Plant ornamental grasses, remembering that warm-season varieties, such as miscanthus and pennisetum, will not start to look great or grow vigorously until the soil is much warmer.

• Plant Brussels sprouts, kidney beans, green beans, pumpkin, squash and corn.

• Keep mulching in order to remove weeds and create a better water-saving barrier that reduces water loss through evaporation.

• Plant dahlias if you forgot to do so in mid-April or if you couldn’t because of bad weather. Remember to put stakes in the hole when planting to avoid driving one in later and damaging the tuber.

• Check out some more tropical and exotic plants to try such as aeoniums and arctotis and specialties like peanut butter plant (Melianthus major) and popcorn plant (Cassia didymobotrya) and electric daisy (Acmella oleracea) , and experiment with more fragrant specialties such as mint and scented geraniums, all of which grow very well in containers.

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