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Out in the Yard: Still time to plant, tips for May

March and April were busy months for gardeners.  However, roller coaster temperatures, torrential rains and hail have left many gardeners frustrated and wondering what they will be able to harvest this year.  Have no fear; there is still time to plant vegetables and flowers while accomplishing other gardening chores.
Many stores are discounting spring vegetables, so you can pick some up at a reasonable price. It is probably too late to plant small tomato plants, but if you find one that is large enough to have blooms, you still have time to plant it.  If you hurry, you may still have time to plant a few peppers, eggplant  and summer squash.  Don’t forget to add a little nitrogen fertilizer to your tomatoes and peppers when they begin to bloom.  Apply the fertilizer about 12 inches from the base of the plant to maximize production.
If you have cool season vegetables that are bolting (going to seed), you can pull those up and plant summer vegetables in their place.  The best summer vegetables/fruit to plant now are okra, southern peas, watermelon  and sweet potatoes.
May is also a good time to do flower bed maintenance.  If you haven’t pruned your azaleas and other spring blooming shrubs, do it now.  This will promote new growth and keep them shaped up for next year.  Remove dead blossoms from your roses and other spring and summer flowering perennials.  This will increase their flower production throughout the year.  You can also prune old blossoms off of spring annuals, such as pansies and snapdragons, to lengthen their growing season.  If you have spring blooming bulbs, leave the foliage on them until it yellows.  This will help feed the bulb and give it time to mature.
The summer heat is near, so many summer annuals can be seeded or transplanted.  Plant zinnias, sunflowers and cosmos in May, but wait until late May or early June to plant your vincas.
It is not too late to transplant shrubs and other perennials.  If transplanting now, make sure you water them regularly through the summer.  Do not water them too much, however,  because their roots will not grow well in soggy soil.  Before you water, check the ground next to the plant and the native soil surrounding the plant.  If they are both dry, you will need to water.  Perennials for the sun include, but are not limited to, Shasta daisy, coreopsis, mallow, salvia (many varieties), daylily and summer phlox. Shade loving perennials include phlox (can be planted in partial sun), ferns, hosta and liriope.
In addition, don’t forget to fertilize your citrus trees this month.  Go to http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/fact-sheets/citrus/ for more information.
Reach Jefferson County Master Gardener Melissa Starr at melynstarr@hotmail.com or call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension  Service at (409)835-8461.