Gardening Guidelines for May & June

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This article was written by Becky Garrett, Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.

General Yard and Garden Information and Tasks

  • Central North Carolina 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 local N.C. Cooperative 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 by using the right tools for the task at hand.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Vegetable Gardens

  • 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 North Carolina Planting Calendar, published by NC State University and available online, for ideal planting dates.
  • 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 a trellis more readily if attached by the time they start running.
  • Properly tying up tomato plants is important to reduce fruit rots, sunscald and foliar diseases. One interesting method of staking tomatoes is called “basket weaving.” Check the web for guidance. 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. 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. Cooeprative 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

  • NC State University has published an excellent source of information for fruit and nut growers in North Carolina. Search online for “15-tree-fruit-and-nuts, or check with your local Cooperative Extension Service.
  • 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 in the online publication “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.
  • 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, NC State University and your local Cooperative Extension Service have valuable resources.
  • Spray or dust for insects and diseases.
  • 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 day lilies.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Hardiness Zones and Frost Dates:

Average First and Last Frost Dates

Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Smart/Safe Gardening:

Smart Gardening Means Safe Gardening

Soil Testing in North Carolina:

Soil Testing for Lawns and Gardens

Careful Soil Sampling is the Key to Reliable Soil Test Information

Vegetable Garden Planning:

Vegetable Garden Calendar

Plant Harvest Guide

Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for Annual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs

General Vegetable Gardening Tips and Planning Spring Gardens:

Stake Your Tomatoes

Helpful guidelines on shrubs, fruits and nuts, lawns, and much more:

Alabama Gardening Calendar

15 Tree Fruit and Nuts


Growing Roses:

Roses for North Carolina


Mums the Word

Flowering Bulbs:

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Becky Garrett is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.