Written by Candide

The auburn leaves and cooler night temperatures of May remind us that winter is on its way and there is much to do in the garden before it enters a well-deserved winter rest. The most important tasks this month involves protecting plants from the wild weather to come and of course, there’s also lots of planting to do!

A few garden tasks to take care of this month:

To do list:

  • For a colourful spring display, sow Namaqua daisies and Buckbay vygies directly into the soil in a sunny spot.
A close up of a flower
Buckbay vygies

Tip | Plant bulbs in containers for a burst of colour and fragrance for the patio.

  • Tie your sweet peas to stakes or trellis as they continue to grow. Remove tendrils and side shoots to save up energy and ensure they receive sufficient water. To learn more about growing and caring for sweet peas, check out our Sweet Pea Series.
  • Protect tender shrubs from frost by covering with lightweight material and spread a thick layer of mulch around the root area.
  • Keep Camellias and Azaleas well watered as they come into bud this month. Mulch with acid compost or leaf mould and only feed when they come into flower.
A close up of a green plant
  • Order fruit trees, berries and vines and start preparing holes for planting at the end of the month.
  • Enjoy the first Aloes budding and bursting into flower.
  • Remember to get mom a Mother’s day gift!

General tasks

  • Gather leaves in black bags to speed up the composting process; add to compost heaps in thin layers, or rake them into garden beds as a winter mulch.

Tip | Run the lawnmower over leaves to shred them into smaller pieces, encouraging faster decomposition

  • Frost and wind can destroy fragile plants – bring these indoors, place protective material around them or shelter with structures.

Tip | In areas that experience frost, water in the morning so that foliage has time to dry before nightfall.

  • Water winter flowering bulbs that have come up more frequently.
  • Remove summer-flowering annuals and add to the compost heap.
  • Transplant punnet-grown seedlings into well-prepared beds, and thin out overcrowded seedlings which were sown directly.
  • Feed winter-flowering annuals like violas, pansies and Iceland poppies with a liquid fertiliser and regularly remove faded blooms.
A close up of a flower
  • Feed potted Cineraria, Cyclamen, Calceolaria, Hyacinths, Jonquils, Narcissi, Poinsettias and Primulas with a liquid fertiliser like Seagrow or Nitrosol.
  • Remove dried leaves from summer bulbs and mark the spot where they are planted to not accidentally dig them up.
  • When the foliage of Dahlias has died down, cut back the stems to 20cm. In summer rainfall areas leave tubers in the ground and cover with mulch. Dahlia tubers can also be lifted and stored – after lifting wash off excess soil, place in boxes and cover with sand. Remember to water lightly every now and then.
  • Tidy up perennials as they die down – remove old stems and dead leaves. Apply a layer of mulch and water well.
  • Prune plectranthus after flowering and re-use the cuttings for propagating new plants. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide on taking softwood cuttings.
A hand holding a flower
  • Hardwood cuttings can still be taken this month. If you’re giving it a go for the first time follow this step-by-step how-to guide on taking hardwood cuttings.

Rose care

  • Keep roses damp and mulch around the roots.
  • Keep spraying roses to protect against fungal diseases like rose rust and black spot.
A close up of a flower

Food garden

  • Make the last sowings of winter veggies like broad beans, radish, spinach, swiss chards kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, leeks, cabbages, carrots and lettuce.
  • Plant garlic cloves.
  • Water leafy winter crops regularly, feed with a liquid fertiliser every two weeks, and mulch mulch mulch.
  • Don’t leave the soil bare over the winter, instead grow cover crops or green manure like fava beans, alfalfa, phacelia and clover.
A close up of a green plant in a garden

Indoor plants

  • Stop feeding potted plants and water less frequently as temperatures decrease. Never let plants dry out completely, especially orchids, philodendrons and ferns.
  • In heated rooms provide indoor plants with sufficient moisture.
  • Stake flower spikes of Cymbidium orchids.
  • Reduce water given to Hippeastrum bulbs as they enter dormancy and do not feed.
  • For more tips and advice on caring for your indoor plants check out the article below:
  • Keep a watchful eye on pests like scale and mealy bugs.

Pest patrol

  • Keep a sharp eye on aphids, which may be appearing on new growth, and clear up all fallen fruit and old veggie plants that have stopped producing.
  • Conifer aphids are active from May to September.
  • Put out bait for fruit fly.
  • Look out for snails on vegetable seedlings and clivias.
  • Fig tree borer beetles.
  • Scale on indoor plants and citrus trees.

For more visit the Candide website