The month of May continues to be a busy time in the garden. Early in the month is an ideal time to apply a well-balanced organic fertilizer to all your perennial beds. I have used a product called Plant-Tone the past few years with much success. I think it gives established plants a good nutritional boost and I also use it around new plantings to help them get established. I like to add it to the garden beds prior to spreading new mulch.
Speaking of mulch, this is the month to apply it to your beds if you haven’t already done so. The rule of thumb is no thicker than 3 inches. The past several years I have been mixing Preen (a weed preventer) into my wheelbarrows of mulch prior to spreading. Preen is a great product. It prevents weed seeds from sprouting, keeping some of those pesky weeds to a minimum. I tend to steer clear of the red mulches. They have been found to be treated with chemicals that might be harmful to the environment.
As you plan to add colors to your garden to compliment your perennials, try to think about the overall appearance. Always plant clumps of the same plants in odd numbers and repeat these groupings throughout the garden beds to give your landscape a unified look. When thinking about adding color, the choices are endless. A monochromatic look can be very beautiful, or repeating certain colors, once again, in clumps, unifies the appearance of your garden. Think about the color wheel when choosing colors. Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel (i.e. purple and yellow) really pop in the garden or in containers when planted together.
Remember, when purchasing perennial plants, Menands is located in zone 5 of the USDA plant hardiness zone map. You can safely plant perennials that are zone 5 or lower and they will “winter over” in our climate. Zone 6 and higher, the plant will need to be dug and brought inside for the winter months. Any plant with a plant hardiness zone of 5 will tolerate winter temperatures of -15 degrees (F). Most gardens centers and farmers markets will know which of their stock plants are hardy in our area. Annual plants are not winter hardy and will die off each fall, but many varieties self-seed and will sprout in the garden next spring – though not always in the location where you would like them.