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New England Nurseries’ Monthly Garden Guide: May

May in Massachusetts, or all of New England, is a tough time for gardeners. Temperatures are getting warmer, our perennials are blooming, and we want to get those annuals planted and growing. But, the threat of overnight frost looms over us. At least, until mid-May. So, what can an eager gardener do?

Consider planting some of your favorite annuals in large pots that can be moved into a garage or shed, if necessary. You can also plant your annuals and cover them overnight if there is a threat of frost. There are several products on the market to protect tender plants overnight. These include Harvest-Guard Protective Garden Cover or burlap. You can also use an overturned pot, bucket, or light sheet. Just ensure whatever you use is secure enough that it won’t blow off the plant in the middle of the night.

If you’re planning to sow vegetable seeds directly in your garden, early May is the time to plant your green onions, carrots, lettuce, and Swiss chard. Mid to late May is a good time to plant pole beans, turnips, bush beans, and corn. And, the last week of May to early June is the time to plant your vining plants such as cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins.

If you haven’t started your seeds indoors, you’ll want to purchase pre-started transplants, if you want to grow tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Plant those in your garden at the end of May.

Our Monthly Top 10

This month we’ll be talking about 10 easy-care shrubs that will give you immediate curb appeal with little maintenance. Our one caveat here, is that every plant or shrub has conditions in which they thrive best. So, follow the basic care instructions on the following shrubs and enjoy your landscaping without constantly fussing over it.

  1. Spirea: Once established, spirea require little So long as they are planted in a well- draining area, they can adapt to various soil types and pH levels. Trimming the shrub after the first bloom could potentially initiate a second bloom, and as a bonus, the foliage changes color in autumn providing fall appeal.
  1. Hydrangea: Hydrangeas like hydration. It’s in the name! But they require little pruning. They come in many colors and will grow in sun or shade. Their huge, clustered blooms, provide a showy addition to your landscape.
  1. Arborvitae: This evergreen shrub needs no to little pruning, and has dense foliage, making it a top pick for privacy
  1. Weigela: Weigela is versatile in that it can be grown as hedges or borders, as well as, in Their showy flowers attract bees and butterflies, they like part to full sun and are deer-resistant.
  1. Viburnum: These shrubs are not fussy about soil, enjoy full sun to partial shade, and their clusters of flowers smell
  1. Forsythia: Once New Englanders see Forsythia in bloom, we know that Spring has finally arrived! They sport those familiar yellow blooms, but even after bloom, they offer pretty green foliage through to Forsythia is great as stand-alone shrubs or part of a hedge. Fun fact, Forsythia are part of the olive family.
  1. Lilac: Lilac is another Spring favorite with blooms that range from white, through shades of pink, to the familiar purple. They like full sun and well-drained soil. You don’t need to fertilize lilac very Doing so may inhibit its flower growth.
  1. Azaleas: These shrubs can live on with little to no maintenance. They add instant yard appeal with Spring flowers that cover the entire Azaleas come in a vast array of colors so they look great in any landscape.
  1. Boxwood: Boxwood is another evergreen shrub that makes for a great stand-alone shrub, a hedge, or can be trimmed as a They can be placed in full sun or partial shade.
  1. Winterberry: If you have an area with poor drainage, Winterberry is your Winterberry is part of the Holly family and has green foliage in warmer months that turns golden in autumn. It’s capable of growing in full shade but at the expense of flowers and berries.

Gardening Trends

In this month’s Gardening Trends, we are looking at the growing trend of small-space gardening, such as containers and micro-gardens. Container, vertical, and raised-bed gardening aren’t new concepts, but in the past few years they have gained in popularity and the trend continues upward. Container and micro-gardening are a versatile way to grow herbs, veggies, and fruit in small yards, urban spaces, and even indoors.

Some of the many benefits of container gardening include:

  1. Space Efficiency: Containers allow you to grow plants in small spaces like balconies, patios, decks, and rooftops. Many edible and fruit-bearing plants grow very well in hanging baskets as well.
  1. Portability: Containers are movable, allowing you to position your plants to optimize sunlight exposure and protection from harsh weather
  1. Soil Control: You have complete control over the soil composition, drainage, and pH when using containers, which can be particularly advantageous for plants with specific soil
  1. Weed Control: Container gardening minimizes weed growth, as the plants are isolated from the ground where weed seeds typically
  1. Pest Management: Containers make it easier to monitor and manage pests, as you can isolate affected plants and implement targeted pest control measures without affecting the entire garden.
  1. Disease Prevention: Container gardening reduces the risk of soil-borne diseases, as you can start with fresh, sterile soil and avoid soil contamination from previous
  1. Accessibility: Containers can be raised to a comfortable height, reducing the need for bending or kneeling, which makes gardening more accessible for individuals with mobility
  1. Season Extension: Containers can be moved indoors during colder weather, extending the growing season for certain plants and allowing you to enjoy fresh produce year-round.
  1. Aesthetic Appeal: Containers come in various sizes, shapes, and materials, allowing you to create visually appealing arrangements that complement your outdoor or indoor living
  1. Experimentation: Container gardening provides an opportunity to experiment with different plant varieties and growing techniques, enabling you to learn and adapt your gardening practices based on your

Need some ideas on where to get started? If you want to try out large pots, try strawberries, bush tomatoes, bush beans, peppers, garlic, eggplant, spinach, or lettuce. If you have a bunch of old flower pots hanging around, decorate your outdoor surfaces with little herb and tea gardens. And, to try your hand at hanging baskets, try out strawberries, vining tomatoes, peas or beans, cucumbers, or lettuce. An important note about container gardening – in the heat of summer the soil can dry faster than traditional gardens. You may need to water your plants more than once per day, so monitor them closely.

Did You Know? – Fun Plant Facts

Scientists have discovered a fascinating interaction between flowers and bees. We know that bees eat nectar (for energy) and pollen (for protein and nutrients), and the beneficial side effect is cross- pollination, but there is so much more happening when that interaction occurs. Dr. Gregory Sutton, and his team, at the University of Bristol in the UK, studied the interaction more closely and found that flowers are negatively charged by the air around them at about 30 volts. And bees, flapping their wings at around 200 beats per second, build up a positive charge. When a bee gets close to a flower there is an electrical interaction between the two. The pollen in the flower is attracted to the hairs on the bee’s body via static electricity and jumps onto the bee.

Another interesting fact is that, for a short time after a bee visits a flower, the negative and positive charges cancel each other out. When another bee draws near that flower, it can sense that the flower has no electric charge at that time and moves on to another flower.

To learn more, go to ( resources/bumblebee-static-electricity/) or ( and to watch

(and hear) the interaction take place check out the YouTube video by David Attenborough (

Greenery or Gear: Monthly Plant or Tool Spotlight

This month’s spotlight is on an interesting and versatile houseplant – the Staghorn Fern. Staghorn Ferns are epiphytes, which means they grow on other plants without harming them. Aside from their unique antler-like look, being epiphytes, they can be mounted on wooden plants or other wooden features such as large branches. This gives them a living art or living sculpture esthetic.

When well cared for they can live for decades. In hot and humid landscapes, such as Florida, they can grow outside and have been recorded as large as 10 feet wide and 6 feet tall.

Aside from their unique look, they are excellent air purifiers and remove toxins and pollutants from their surroundings. They

thrive in indirect, bright light, and have specific watering needs. We have many interesting specimens in stock now, come check them out!