Gardening Tips

In The Garden – May-June gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


• Plant summer bulbs – dahlias, cannas, caladiums – and tropical water lilies and heat loving annuals such as portulaca and sun coleus.

• Continue plantings perennials and summer annuals and work a slow-release fertilizer into the hole when planting.

• Spray roses for black spot and other fungus type diseases.

• Check container plants daily. Don’t let these dry out. Fertilize often as they loose nutrients quickly.

Fruits and Vegetables

• Plant warm season crops in May – eggplant, peppers, squash, cucumbers, snap beans, peppers, okra and watermelons.

• Stake or cage tomatoes and train green beans and cucumbers up trellises or supports.

• Check your vegetable garden daily for water needs. Fertilize weekly, as these plants are heavy feeders and need fertilizer weekly. Keep watch for disease and insect infestations.

• Control blossom end rot on tomatoes with good watering practices; add lime to reduce the problem.

• Harvest vegetables and fruits in the morning, not during the heat of the day. Place the harvest in a cool place to prevention deterioration of taste and quality.


• Spot treat broadleaf weeds. It’s hard to control henbit, chickweed and hairy bittercress now, but it is a good idea to control the seed dispersal of the flowers. Physically removing these weeds before the seeds fall will give you a jump on next year’s weeds.

• Watch your mower height. Bermuda, Centipede and Zoysia should be mowed at 1 inch, fescue at 3 inches. Do not fertilize fescue, but you can lightly fertilize the other grasses.

• Manage your lawn watering needs through the Turf Irrigation Water Management Program at NC State. The program calculates and tracks watering requirements based on current weather data. Details at

Trees and Shrubs

• Finish pruning your spring-blooming shrubs in May. If you prune too late, you might cut off buds for next spring’s bloom.

• Prune new growth of evergreens shrubs to keep shape, but no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the growth. Do not prune into the old wood, as it will not re-generate growth.

• Water young trees and shrubs


• Watch for leaf galls on camellias and azaleas, and pick off and dispose of them.

• Keep an eye on evergreens – junipers, arborvitae, and especially Leyland cypress – for bagworms that look like little brown hanging cones. There are worms inside that will kill an evergreen if left untreated. Bagworms are relatively easy to control with organic insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis.

• Watch for yellow jackets, wasps and hornets in the landscape and lawn and stay away from those areas. They are beneficial in pollinating and eating insects.

• Monitor fruit trees for scale insects. These look like a pinhead-sized bump on stems. The insect under this protective armor is sucking plant juices. One can become thousands resulting in poor production and plant decline.

• Japanese beetles start to arrive in June. Be on the watch and be prepared.

For a complete list of garden maintenance activities, visit the NC Cooperative Extension web site at

For lawn care go to the NC State Turf Files at