May in the Southern California Garden
Each month has its special joys and tasks in the garden. Below is a suggested calendar for May. Remember
that gardening depends on the weather, so tasks, bloom season and activities may vary from year to year.
Best of Show:
Flowers: tree/shrub: *Carpenteria californica, Ceanothus ‘Frosty Blue’, Fremontia ‘El Dorado Gold’, Sambucus nigra ssp cerulea;
smaller shrubs: Calystegia macrostegia, Clematis ligusticifolia, Coreopsis spp, Diplacus spp, Eriogonum fasciculatum, Lathyrus
vestitus, Lonicera spp., Salvia apiana,* Salvia clevelandii, Salvia leucophylla; Annuals/perennials/bulbs: Symphyotrichum (Aster)
chilense, Achillea millefolium, *Aquilegia Formosa, Argentina egedii, Collinsia heterophylla, Dudleya spp., Lillium spp., *Mentzelia
lindleyi, Mimulus cardinalis, Phacelia spp., Potentilla glandulosa, Sisyrinchium californicum, Trifolium spp., Triteleia laxa
Fruits/berries: *Berberis (Mahonia) spp, * Rhamnus spp., Rhus integrifolia & ovate – all begin to be interesting
Make a plan for removing your lawn, ivy patch, old tree/shrubs or other plants that need removal. Explore methods; see about hiring
outside help if needed. This is a really good month to get started on ‘removals’.
Check mulch; add/renew if needed
Move bulb pots to cool dry place
Repair damaged hardscape if needed
From seed: collect seed from spring wildflowers
Riparian/pond and other Zone 3 plants from now to summer
Desert plants from now to summer; water
Direct-seed warm season sod grasses
Watering: key month to monitor soil moisture
Taper off water for spring bulbs when the leaves start to wither
Taper off water for early spring wildflowers; keep watering late-bloomers until flowering ceases.
This can be a tricky month for watering – soils/containers can dry out before you know it. So check soil moisture weekly.
Turn on irrigation/ begin routine summer watering schedule as soon as summer water is needed.
Prune to shape/train: Ceanothus, Arctostaphylos, Carpenteria, and other flowering shrubs once they've finished blooming
Oil and sharpen your pruners, saws, etc. – store
Weed out garden to prevent weeds from going to seed
Make a May basket for a friend or neighbor
Make Lemonadeberry ‘lemonade’ if fruits ripen
Pick ripe Berberis fruits; use for jelly or other recipes; dry for tea; use for dye
Enjoying the garden: major enjoying month
Just take it easy; days are warm enough to enjoy sitting, dining and meditating in the garden.
Take a field-trip with friends to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden or some other ‘far away’ place. Make a day of it
Watch the warm weather vegetables grow ; Some may start to flower in warmer gardens.