Garden tasks for May 2016

MY16_Garden-plant-trees_FFlower garden

Autumn is the best time to plant new trees and shrubs – they can become established over the cooler, wetter months. Add some long-term fertiliser at planting time and tie to a support stake.

It’s also a good time to plant new season’s daphne, camellias and rhododendrons for welcome colour in your winter and early spring garden.

May is moving month – many smaller shrubs, such as azaleas and gardenias, can be transplanted this month.

Collect autumn leaves for composting.

It’s your last chance to plant spring bulbs, but there’s still time to get your lily bulbs in. They are easy to grow and can be planted any time between May and September. Work bulb food into planting area and cover bulbs with 10cm of soil.

Trim back autumn flowering perennials and mulch trees, shrubs and perennials with compost.

Lift dahlia tubers and gladioli corms and store in a dry place ready for planting again in spring.

Sow seeds of alyssum, sweetpea, lobelia, calendula, cineraria, nemesia, statice, Virginian stock, cornflower, lupin and forget-me-not.

Plant out seedlings of calendula, wallflower, snapdragon, nemesia, pansies, primula, stock, polyanthus, cineraria and viola.

Fruit and vegetable garden

Harvest the last of your feijoas, guavas, kiwifruit and tamarilloa as they ripen.

Plant your first strawberries – well established plants will fruit earlier and for longer this spring and summer.

Fruit tree pruning can start as soon as leaves have dropped.

Feed citrus trees with citrus fertiliser to maintain foliage colour and good health.

Mulch your vegetable and fruit trees with compost.

If your veggie patch won’t be used over winter, think about sowing blue lupin or mustard seed as a winter crop. This is an easy, natural way to add nutrients and improve soil structure for spring.

Shallot and garlic bulbs are available in garden centres now – start your planting.

As leeks grow, pile up soil around the stems to provide some support and keep stems white.

Thin out carrots and other autumn sown crops.

Cut back asparagus to within 15cm of ground level after stems turn yellow.

Sow seeds of beetroot, carrots, onions, spinach, swedes, turnips, radish, broad beans and broccoli directly into your garden bed.

Plant out seedlings of broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, spring onions and silverbeet.


Feed lawns to boost growth and suppress weeds. Bare areas can be raked over and reseeded.

Second thoughts

Bring frost tender patio plants into a sheltered position and reduce watering of your house plants.