Debra Othitis Tulip picture.jpg

Tulips are a perennial flower.

Weather in May can be volatile, so stay aware of the forecast.

Although the average last frost (32 degrees) in Colorado Springs occurs May 10-15, it’s not unusual to have a hard freeze (28 degrees) late in the month.

Here’s a checklist for gardeners:

General maintenance

• Clean and sharpen garden tools.

• Change oil in lawnmower, sharpen the blade and replace the air filter, if needed.

• To eliminate the transfer of disease, clean potting containers with a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water.

If you had diseased containers last year, do not reuse soil. Otherwise, renew soil by removing at least 10% of the soil and adding compost.

Flowers

• Remove faded flowers from spring bulbs, but don’t remove leaves until they have yellowed because they provide energy for next year’s blooms.

• Start feeding roses a balanced rose food every six weeks.

• Begin planting gladiolus every two weeks mid-May through June for a series of blooms.

• Stake peonies and delphiniums.

• After the danger of frost has passed, begin planting tender annuals.

• Plant annual seeds outdoors mid-May.

Lawn

• To maintain a healthy lawn, fertilize late in May or early in June using a fertilizer with high nitrogen content for a quick boost.

• Check your irrigation system to ensure it’s reaching all areas of the lawn and gardens.

• Seed any dead or bare areas of the lawn.

Trees, shrubs, perennials

• Prune early spring flowering trees and shrubs such as lilacs and forsythia after flowers fade.

• Begin to prune many evergreens and conifers.

• Plant container-grown and balled and burlap trees and landscape shrubs.

• Plant raspberries, blackberries and potted roses.

If you’re not sure what will grow in this region, look for perennials marked “Plant Select.” These plants will thrive in the tough climate.

Vegetables

• On warm days, a week or two before planting, begin hardening off seedlings in a sheltered location starting with 15 minutes a day and increasing daily by 15-minute increments.

• Thin seedlings of early planted crops such as carrots, lettuce, spinach and beets.

• Asparagus stalks can be harvested at soil level when they are larger than 3/8-inch diameter, as long as they are 3 years old.

Late May when soil is as least 50 degrees:

• Transplant tomatoes and bury them deep to the top most pair of leaves so they will root all along their stems.

• Plant eggplant and pepper plants.

• Plant corn, bean, pumpkin, squash, cucumber and early-maturing melon seeds.

Submit gardening questions to csumg2@elpasoco.com. The in-person help desk will open 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. May 19 and 26 at 17 N. Spruce St. Call 719-520-7684.

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