Green Thumb is Not Necessary When Planting in May

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Just about every vegetable and flower will do well when planed in May so even novice gardeners will experience success. This is especially true in Southern California where the weather is perfect for spring gardens.

Plant Warm Season Flowers: Some flowers just do better when the weather (and soil) is warm. These annuals are in their prime through August so plant them in May for four months of vibrant color. They include begonia, chrysanthemum, geranium, marigold, petunia and verbena. If you want flowers year round, plant perennials such as African daisy, delphinium, fuchsia, lavender, salvia and coreopsis.

Water Smart: Let the weather be your guide when watering. However, as a rule, it's best to water longer and less frequently than watering a few minutes a day. This encourages plant roots to strengthen as they reach further down into the soil seeking moisture. Water the soil around your flowers and vegetable plants, not the plants themselves. Watering at the root can lead to disease and fungus.

Add Fragrance To Your Flower Garden: Colorful flowers make up only part of an attractive garden. Fragrance is also important. Consider planting these fragrant shrubs this month: all types of dwarf citrus, gardenia, jasmine and roses.

Experiment With Vegetables: Most nurseries have the standard tomatoes, zucchini and peppers available for planting, but try something different this year – sweet potatoes, okra-even peanuts.

Plant Wildflowers: Native plants are typically harder and use less water than non-native plants. Wildflowers are used to being on their own-with little care necessary. Sprinkle wildflower seeds in a bare or hard-to-get-to location and they'll soon fill the space. Most wildflowers are annuals that will keep coming back year after year. You'll find packs of these California wildflowers at most nurseries: penstemon, buckwheat, lupine, Creeping Mountain Lilac, California poppy, Evening Primrose, Golden Yarrow and Verbena.

Add A Layer Of Organic Mulch: Maintain a two to three-inch layer of mulch through your flower and vegetable gardens. The mulch helps maintain cooler weather temperatures, holds in moisture, enables roots to extend deeper into the soil and suppresses weed growth. The mulch will eventually decompose, adding nutrients to the soil.

Time For Lawn Maintenance: The soil under lawns compact over time. If you're watering and the water is running off instead of soaking in, it's time aerate and dethatch the lawn so water can easily penetrate to the roots. Apply a light layer of lawn topping to hold in moisture and reduce water usage.

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