It seems autumn is finally here! Glorious sunny days and mild temperatures make for perfect gardening and planting conditions. May is a busy month with plenty to do including planting winter – spring flowers and vegetables, camellias, roses, natives, trees and all manner of things, so let’s get cracking and get into the garden!
What to Plant Now
Ideal to plant now: Advanced trees, african boxwood, alyssum, azaleas, begonias, bottlebrush, bougainvilleas, buxus, calendula, camellia, cineraria, cordylines, crepe myrtles, everlasting daisies, fox gloves, geraniums, gardenias, gazanias, grevillea, hebe, hibiscus, jacaranda, kangaroo paws, lavender, lobelia, magnolia, murraya, natives, native violets, nandina, oleander, ornamental plums, pandorea, pansies, plumbago, polygala, poppies, roses, scaevola, salvia, spring flowering bulbs (eg daffodils and hyacinths), star jasmine, sweet peas, syzygium (lilly pillies), succulents, topiary specimens, viola, viburnum and westringia.
Plant now in your edible garden: Artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, broad beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chicory, chives, citrus trees, coriander, climbing beans, deciduous fruit trees such as apples, pears, plums etc, endive, fennel, figs, garlic, kale, leeks, lettuce, marjoram, mint, mizuna, mustard greens, nectarines, olives, onions, oregano, pak choy, parsley, parsnip, passionfruit, peas, potatoes, radish, rhubarb, rocket, rosemary, sage, silverbeet, snow peas, spring onions, spinach, strawberries, tarragon, thyme and turnips.
What’s In Flower This Month: Alyssum, banksia, begonia, bougainvillea, butterkins (Sida), camellia sasanqua, carnations, chrysanthemum, correa, crown of thorns (euphorbia), cuphea, cyclamen, dianthus, dombeya, duranta, eremophila, erigeron, federation daisies, frangipani, gardenia, geranium, grevillea, hibiscus, illyarrie (eucalyptus erythrocorys), kangaroo paws, lavender, lobelia, mandevilla, marigold, metrosideros thomasii, oleander, ozothamnus, pandorea, pansies, perennial statice, plumbago, polygala, potato jasmine, roses, russelia, salvia, scaevola, society garlic, viola and westringia.
Garden Jobs for May
1. Get cracking in the vegie garden – An autumn planting now of some favourites like broad beans, rocket, lettuce, parsley, silverbeet, coriander and kale will provide months of healthy winter salads and recipe ideas. It’s a good investment in your own health too. Garden fresh greens will boost your immunity to winter colds and flu.
2. Prepare ground and plant winter and spring flowering annuals – Continue planting winter and spring flowering annuals such as alyssum, calendulas, pansie, primulas, stocks, and violas. May is a real window of opportunity, seedlings planted now will get off to a roaring start, before cooling soil temperatures slow growth. Prepare soil by blending in some soil improver and sprinkle on some controlled (slow) release fertiliser such as Baileys Pots & Flowers Apex Controlled Release Fertiliser. Supplement this by a fortnightly liquid feed with Flourish.
3. Protect plants from snail and slug attack – Snails and slugs become more active following the first rains. These pests can be particularly devastating to new seedling planting so beware. The best defence is a light sprinkle of a quality snail bait like Multiguard Snail & Slug Killer.
4. Plant spring flowering bulbs – Aim to complete your bulb planting by the end May-early June. A useful rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to plant them at a depth which is equal to twice the width of the bulb. Bulbs planted in containers can be grown on outdoors in a sheltered area and then taken inside to enjoy when in flower. Pot bulbs with Dawson’s Premium Potting Mix and liquid feed with Flourish fortnightly once the leaves have emerged.
5. Autumn Spray for deciduous fruit trees – As leaves are falling it’s a good idea to give deciduous fruit trees a preventative spray with a copper based spray. This helps to prevent over-wintering of a myriad of fungal diseases like stonefruit freckle and shot hole. Spray with Yates Liquid Copper.
6. Sow Everlasting Daisy seed – Sow following the first significant rains. Select a sunny, well drained planting site. Prepare by removing weeds and raking over to level. Mix seed with sand or potting mix to make spreading easier. Broadcast seed mix over area and then cover with a light sprinkling of soil or potting mix. Keep seedbed moist by light waterings until seedlings emerge. Protect seedlings with
7. Look out for fungal leaf diseases on roses – Autumn rains combined with mild days and cooler nights, can encourage the development of rose leaf diseases. Powdery mildew and black spot, in particular can be troublesome. Combat these diseases with some preventative spraying to keep them at bay. Spray fortnightly with Eco Fungicide*, Sharp Shooter Rose Black Spot & Natural Pyrethrum Concentrate or Rose Shield Black Spot & Insect Pest Killer.
May Planting Guide
1. Super Dwarf Apples – These compact Apple Trees are the perfect solution for home orchards, pots and tubs. Super Dwarf Apples are the result of a unique grafting technique. Super Dwarf Apples make use of a unique inter-stock, which is actually the bit of the graft which confers the dwarfing habit. This allows a more regular and robust Apple rootstock to be used below which all adds up to a compact tree which is more resilient in a range of soil types. These dwarf trees will grow to around 1.8-2.5m only, short but sweet! A range of your favourite Apple varieties are now available as Super Dwarfs including: Anna, Dorset Gold, Gala, Red Fuji and Sundowner.
2. Echeveria Zorro – This showy succulent looks a bit like a living coral. Growing into a broad rosette to 30-40cm wide, highlighted by broad frilly edged colourful foliage. Leaf colour varies with the seasons tending to be more burgundy coloured in winter and green grey through the warmer months. Best grown in full sun to semi shade. A showy addition to mixed succulent pots and gardens.
3. Low Chill Peaches – Low chill fruit varieties require little in the way of winter chilling Chill units or hours refers to the total amount of time a fruit tree needs to be exposed to effective winter temperatures to help them break dormancy and flower and set fruit normally. Peaches like Flordagold, are reliable performers in Perth and along the coastal strip. Flordagold was developed in Florida, especially for mild winter climates. Flordagold produces large, clingstone fruit with red blushed skin and juicy yellow flesh matures mid-December. Flordagold is available as a traditional tree or dwarf. Also try low chill Peaches Tropic Beauty or white fleshed Tropic Snow.
4. Camellia Yuletide – This is one of the most stunning of the autumn flowering Sasanqua Camellias. Flowering now and continuing into late winter-spring. Yuletide, has single, glowing red flowers highlighted by a center of golden stamens. It has a simple elegance about it and really looks the part when planted into glazed feature pottery. Like most Camellias, sasanquas favour positions in dappled light or morning sun and afternoon shade, but they will also tolerate full sun provided they are well mulched and watered over the warmer months. Camellias require slightly acidic soil conditions, so to grow them successfully in Perth’s limey sands, blend in Dawson’s Soil Improver at the rate of 2 parts soil improver to 2 parts soil (a 50: 50 mix). Follow up by applying coarse grade acidic mulch like Chunky Pine Bark Mulch, leaving a 10-15cm bare circle around the stem. Begin or add to your Camellia collection with these beautiful Autumn flowering varieties; Beatrice Emily, Hiryu, Jean May, Jennifer Susan, Pure Silk, Rose Ann, Setsugekka, Shishi Gashira and Snow Cloud, Yuletide.
5. Cordyline Can Can – A dramatic, clumping type Cordyline, with ever changing foliage colour. The new strappy foliage is striking pink on red and as leaves mature they change to cream on green variegation. Forming a dense clump of weeping foliage, Can Can, will dance up a storm when mass planted or as a feature in a decorative pot. Best full sun to semi shade.
6. Hibiscus Rose of Sharon – This hardy autumn flowering, deciduous Hibiscus has large double flowers which open white and then gradually fade to pink and red as the flowers age. This gives a fascinating multi-coloured show. This is a large shrub growing to around 3m tall, it is suitable as a specimen shrub, screen or hedge. Prune back by one third to half its height each year in early spring. As a bonus the plant has large, attractive deeply lobed, Maple-like foliage. The Rose of Sharon was a popular feature in Perth gardens of yesteryear, grow now and this easy growing beauty will win you over!
RSL Rose – Classic shaped buds open to petal filled flowers of regal burgundy, with a soft amber reverse. Flowers on long stems making it an ideal variety for cutting and enjoying inside. Part proceeds of sales go to the RSL to assist returned veterans and their families. Height to 150cm
St. John Rose – Deep velvety-red blooms with some near black tones near the petal edges. Intense rose and citrus fragrance. A fine example of a modern fragrant hybrid tea rose. Grows to 150cm tall.