Gardening Tips

In The Garden – May-June gardening tips

Helpful tips for gardening in the Triangle.


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

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

• Wait until spring bulb foliage dies down before removing it. Fertilize with bone meal after blooming.

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

Fruits and Vegetables

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

• 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

• 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.


• 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. Hand pulling these weeds before the seeds fall will give you a jump on next year.

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

• If needed, water your lawn in early morning to avoid evaporation in the heat of the day.

• Manage your lawn watering needs through the Turf Irrigation Water Management Program at NC State. The program calculates 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 and foundation 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.


• Keep an eye on evergreens – junipers, arborvitae, 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 easy to control with organic insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis.

• Japanese beetles start to arrive in June. 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