May In The Garden

Planting In May

May is an excellent time to plant almost anything.   Evaluate your planting needs and have all the necessary tools you will need before you begin planting.  You may need to amend your soil if it is too dry or too wet.  We can help you figure out what you may need to use an amendment!  Stop by or drop us a text or email and we’ll be glad to help.

Gardening Tips to get it right the first time!

Tip 1 – Right spot for the right plant

Make sure you know what your plant needs.  Whether it’s sun or shade, dry or wet, your success will depend on your plant being happy in its new home.   If you don’t know, ask us and we’ll be glad to help you choose the right spot.

Tip 2 – Amend the soil

Common amendments are soil conditioner, planting mix or compost and are mostly used to add organic matter to the soil to give it better drainage and nutrient availability.  It also helps to hold moisture in dry sandy soils.

Tip  3 – Water Before You Plant

Make sure your new plants have been thoroughly watered before you plant.  This will eliminate dry pockets within the root ball.

Tip 4 – Don’t Plant Too Deep

The most important rule to remember.  Planting depth accounts for the majority of poor plant performance or death.  When you plant, dig your hole twice as wide as the pot and only as deep as the pot.  You want to make sure your root mass is at or slightly higher than ground level.  Don’t place soil on top of the root ball.  This can prevent water and oxygen from getting to the roots.

Tip 5 – Tuck Your Plant In

When you plant, make sure that there are no air pockets around the sides of the plants.  Air pockets will create a void and when you water it will run down the sides of the root ball and not into it causing your plant to dehydrate and die. Pack the soil tightly around your plants.  On larger plants, you can take the shovel handle and tap the soil firmly around all sides of the pot.

Tip 6 – Mulch

It doesn’t matter what you plant, mulch will help your garden thrive.  Whether it’s annuals, perennials shrubs or trees, providing a natural mulch will keep your plant healthy by reducing moisture loss and temperature control.  And the best benefit will be that as organic mulch breaks down it adds vital nutrients to the soil.  It’s a win-win.  Common mulches include leaves, straw, and bark.

Tip 7 – Provide adequate hydration.

Make sure your plants get their share of water.   If you don’t know whether the soil is dry or not, get a moisture meter that can help you determine the soil moisture.  They’re inexpensive and can save some trouble in determining whether your plants are wet or dry.


Fertilizing Your Plants

It’s been a long winter and your plants are hungry!  Now is the time to evaluate your fertilizer options.  Know what your plant requires before you grab the bag.   Grass fertilizer is not good for anything but grass.  If you have questions about what fertilizers you can use on your plants, give us a shout or drop by and we’ll help you choose the right blend.

Do You Know What Fertilizer Numbers Mean?

The first three numbers in fertilizer represent the main elements that are important to know as they do different things.

N stands for Nitrogen and is the 1st number on your label.  Nitrogen will give you strong green growth. 

P stands for Phosphorus and is the 2nd number on your label.  Phosphorus will make strong roots, flowers, and fruit.  

K stands for Potassium and is the 3rd number on your label.  This element provides for the overall health and vigor of your plant.  This element is sometimes referred to as potash.  

For most plants, we recommend using an even number or close to it if possible.  14-14-14 or 20-20-20 would cover the gamut of plant needs.

Many plants have different needs – like grass needs a higher nitrogen than other plants.  Know your plants and what they need before you apply any fertilizer.

Types Of Fertilizer

There are 4 types of fertilizers.  Granular, Timed or Slow Release, and Liquid. 

Granular Fertilizers are usually fast-acting and will start to work as soon as it’s applied.  Care should be taken when using traditional synthetic granular fertilizers so you won’t have salt damage by applying too much.  Always read the label.

There are many organic granular fertilizers like Espoma’s Holly Tone, Plant Tone, Etc.  These are perfect additions to your fertilizer regime as they are nonburning and not heat-activated.  Milorganite is also a great granular fertilizer to use.

Timed-Release Fertilizers or Slow-Release Fertilizers are just that – they are activated to start releasing nutrients within a certain temperature range.  Care should be used with timed-release fertilizers like Osmocote because if you have a very hot day the fertilizer can release more than the plant can handle and salts can build up and damage your plants.  It’s important to make sure your plants are adequately hydrated if you are using a Timed Release Fertilizer and you have unusual temperature spikes.

Liquid Fertilizers are available in an array of formulations for your specific needs.  Keep in mind that feeding with a liquid is a one-shot deal and there is usually no residual left after you have used it.  Feeding once a season with a liquid fertilizer is usually not adequate nutrients for your plants.  Many liquid fertilizers will allow you to water with the solution each time you water and others may have you feeding every 7-10 days to once per month.  Always read the label of the liquid fertilizers you are using so you will make sure you are doing it correctly.

Mulch Mulch Mulch

May is an excellent time to replenish mulch in your beds.  Applying a 2-3″ layer of mulch around shrubs, trees, annuals, and perennials can help with weeds, moisture loss, and high temperatures.  Organic mulch like leaves, bark, and straw is recommended.

Did you know you can mulch your containers?  Yes, you can!  Adding bark chips to your container plants is an excellent way of keeping them cool, moist, and weed-free!

Plant Pollinators

With the onset of spring, you’ll want to make sure that you are doing your part in protecting our vital pollinators.  Bees, Butterflies, and many of the valuable insects we depend on for our food have started collecting pollen.  There are lots of plants that you will find in the next few months at Blackcreek Nursery & Garden that are pollinator-friendly!

Just a few are Lantana, Milkweed (Swamp), Buddleia Butterfly Bush, Chaste Vitex, Monarda – Bee Balm, Coral Honey Suckle, Salvia, and much more!

BEE-Wary – Control of Insects and Weeds

Before you use ANY chemical, organic or not, you must identify the problem.   Don’t just assume that it is an insect or fungus.  Many insects can’t be seen and appear as though they might be fungal. And some fungal issues look like insects.  The misuse of any chemical, organic or not, can cause harm to people, pets, plants, and pollinators.   Also, don’t rely solely on AI garden apps or social media “experts”.  They are often very wrong.  Blackcreek Nursery has over 30 years in the landscape and nursery industry and we’ve seen most of it!  Contact us and we’ll see if we can help you figure it out.

Common Insect Remedies

All Seasons Horticultural Oil is our go-to for scale and mites which are hard to control by their design.  They have small mouth parts that attach to the underside of the leaves.  This oil spray suffocates them without causing harm to the plants.  It also has some fungicide properties.  Just make sure you don’t apply in temps below 40°F or above 90°F

Neem Oil works well for controlling most insects including Mites, scales, Aphids, and many other insects without harming beneficial insects.  It does not smell so great.  Like horticultural oil, it can be harmful in temps below 40°F or above 90°F.  Did you know that Neem Oil is also a great fungicide and can help protect plants from many types of fungi?

Espoma Earth Tone Insectide Soap is organic and is formulated for many insects.  It is available online or at local garden stores.

Diy Garden Spray makes an excellent organic spray and can work wonders on things like White Flies, Aphids, and even some mites.  Mix 1-2 tablespoons of organic castile soap in a quart of water and put in a spray bottle or tank.  Add a few drops of essential oils like Peppermint, Rosemary, or Lavender.  A little goes a long way and a lot can burn your plants.

Weed Control

Prevention is the number one weed control.  Natural mulch, not synthetic or rocks, works wonders in keeping weeds down so the use of chemicals is not as necessary.

We have used the organic weed control called Avenger with good results.   It’s made with orange oil and has excellent weed-killing abilities.  There are many organic weed products available and can be cost-effective if you’re using them in a small area.  Keeping a 2-3″ layer of mulch will help greatly with weed control.

Say no to Vinegar or Salt.  They may be an effective treatment for weeds but using it in a garden bed can cause more harm than good.  Vinegar, if used regularly, can change the soil pH which could cause trouble for some plants.  Salt is just not a good idea in any situation because it can damage plants and it can run off to other areas and it stays in the soil.

There are some weed killers on the market with a vast amount of opinions as to their safety for people, pets, and pollinators.  If you must use synthetic weed control because of a problem you can’t control with natural remedies, READ AND FOLLOW THE LABEL.  Many problems with chemicals arise from misuse and not following the label.



Spraying Your Camellias

Tea Scale and Mites are the two insects that can be troublesome for Camellias.  But both are easy to keep under control if you do your preventative homework.  We recommend using a horticultural oil spray or Neem Oil spray in early spring and again in the fall.  This will take care of adult insects as well as ‘crawler’ Scale and Mites as they emerge.  If you already have existing scale or mites, you may have to treat them once and then again in 2-3 weeks.

When you are spraying for Scale or Mites, it’s very important to thoroughly saturate the underside of the leaves as well as the upper as they make their home under the leaves.   We recommend using an Ortho Hose-end Sprayer as they will push that oil into the insects better than a pump-up sprayer.

Pictured Below are two images of 1. Mites and 2. Tea Scale.  If you do preventative sprays you won’t have damage to the plant.  Mite and Scale damage is not reversible.

Mite damage to Camellia leaves.


Severe Tea Scale

Irrigation Evaluation

May is the time to evaluate your watering needs before hot weather sets in.  Give your irrigation system a flush and make sure all heads are working properly.  It’s also the perfect time to reduce your water usage by installing drip irrigation for your plants.  It will not only save water but will save your back from pulling hoses all over the place!