Gardening Guidelines – May & June

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General Yard and Garden Information and Tasks

  • Central NC has passed its average last spring frost dates. A frost in May would be highly unusual.
  • Keep a log book of problems and failures that occur so you can avoid or prevent them in the next planting season. Note successful techniques and varieties for consideration next season.
  • Make plans now for putting up some of your garden produce. Check with your county Extension office or NC State Extension online for more information. Purchase supplies so you have what you need when the time comes.
  • Practice smart and safe gardening: Smart Gardening Means Safe Gardening
  • If you did not have your soil tested prior to this planting season, you can test now at no charge to plan ahead for the fall: Soil Testing for Lawns and Gardens
  • When you find yourself temporarily caught up on gardening tasks, and before the onslaught of produce comes in, it is not too early to consider your fall garden. An additional excellent guide about vegetable gardening can be found at Plant Harvest Guide

Vegetable Gardens

  • A great gardening calendar, from which much of the following was obtained, can be found at Vegetable Garden Calendar.
  • Transplant seedlings of warm-season vegetables you have grown in protected spaces into the garden.
  • Purchase plants or seeds of other warm-season vegetables you want to grow. Refer to the Central NC Planting Calendar for ideal planting dates. Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for Annual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
  • Control grass and weeds; they compete for moisture and fertilizer.
  • Locate mulching materials for such crops as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, Irish potatoes, okra, and lima beans. Apply before dry spells occur but after plants are well established (usually by blooming time).
  • Plant tall-growing crops such as okra, pole beans, and corn on the north side of other vegetables to avoid shading. Plant two or more rows of corn for better pollination.
  • Pole beans cling to the trellis or sticks more readily if attached by the time they start running. An interesting article about beans can be found at: It is Time to Get Those Green Beans in the Ground
  • Properly tying up tomato plants is important to reduce fruit rots, sunscald, and foliar diseases. Check this article for multiple options for tying up tomato plants: Tomato Staking Techniques
  • Another article about basket weaving tomato plants is at: Stake Your Tomatoes. Included at the end of this article is a short, informative video on the method. Be sure to have supplies needed so you can tie up the plants before they become unruly.
  • Harvest vegetables such as beans, peas, squash, cucumbers, and okra regularly to prolong production and enjoy peak freshness.
  • For best results, harvest onions and Irish potatoes when two-thirds of the tops have died down. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place and onions in a dry, airy place.
  • Keep an eye on rainfall and soil dryness. Be sure to water as needed.

The remainder of this article was largely sourced from an article from Alabama A&M and Auburn Extension.

Alabama Gardening Calendar

Although Alabama is more southerly, the advice is useful as a guideline as they are in the same hardiness zone as much of North Carolina. Contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension office for clarity on any particular subject.


  • Newly planted shrubs need extra care now and in the coming weeks.
  • Mulch new shrub plantings if not already done.
  • Don’t spray with oil emulsions when temperature is above 85°F.
  • If scale insects continue on shrubs when the temperatures are above 85, use materials other than oils.
  • Lace bugs may be a problem on azaleas, pyracanthas, dogwoods, cherry laurels, and other shrubs.
  • Water as needed. Fertilize now.
  • Keep long shoots from developing by pinching out tips.
  • Take cuttings from semi-mature wood for rooting.

Fruits and Nuts

  • An excellent source of information for fruit and nut growers in NC can be found at: Tree Fruit and Nuts
  • In May, continue spray program.
  • Keep grass from around trees and strawberries.
  • In June, layer grapes and continue spray programs.
  • Thin apples and peaches if too thick.


  • The best source for all things grass can be found at TurfFiles. Confirm the following items from the Alabama article by referring to the TurfFiles.
  • May is the best time to start lawns from seed.
  • Water new lawns as needed to prevent drying.
  • Keep established lawns actively growing by watering, fertilizing, and mowing.
  • In June, spray weeds in lawns with proper herbicide. Refer to the NC Agricultural Chemicals Manual for recommendations. Be sure to read and follow product labeling for any chemical you apply. The label is the law.
  • Follow a schedule of fertilization and watering.
  • Lawns should be mowed weekly.
  • Planting may continue if soil is moist.


  • For those who enjoying growing roses, consult the information in the publication at: Roses-for-North-Carolina
  • Spray or dust for insects and diseases. Be sure to follow product label directions.
  • Fertilize monthly according to a soil test.
  • Container-grown plants in flower may be planted.
  • Prune climbing roses after the first big flush of flowering.

Annuals and Perennials

  • Late plantings of bedding plants still have time to produce.
  • Watch for insects on daylilies.
  • Keep old flower heads removed to promote continued flowering. Plant garden mums if not already in.
  • For compact mums, keep tips pinched out. Do not pinch after early- to mid-July, or you will be removing some flower buds. Mums the Word
  • Watch for insects and diseases.


  • Summer bulbs started in containers may still be planted.
  • Do not remove foliage from spring-flowering bulbs until it has yellowed and is becoming dry.
  • Do not let seed heads form on tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Watch for aphids and thrips on summer bulbs.

Becky Garrett is an Intern with Master Gardener℠ volunteers in Lee County.