Judy Eisenberg: May gardening and invasive plants

Judy Eisenberg

Q: There are still a couple of weeks left in May. What tasks should I be doing in the garden?

A. Some of the tasks to do in the garden during May are:

- Plant summer blooming bulbs.

- Water regularly if it doesn’t rain.

- Plant the rest of your annual seeds.

- Get yourself a gift and purchase at least one new plant you don’t have already.

- Divide perennials that are crowded and either replant them or give them away.

- For bushier plants, pinch back fall blooming Asters and Chrysanthemums.

- Trees and shrubs should be planted or transplanted before summer’s heat.

- Prune Forsythias, Lilacs, Vibernums and other spring blooming shrubs after they flower.

- Before you put your indoor plants outside permanently, get them accustomed to spring weather by bringing them outside for a few hours on warm days.

- Remove dead flower stems on spring blooming bulbs, but let the leaves turn yellow before removing.

Q: Can you tell me the difference between native plants and invasive plants?

Native plants are plants that were already growing in North America before European colonists settled here. Many of these native plants still grow today in the areas in which they originated.

They have adapted to our climate’s heat, drought, excessive rain, cold and snow, and require minimal labor, fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Native plants have an interactive relationship with indigenous animals, birds, reptiles, butterflies, insects and many other organisms, and provide them with food and habitat.

Some "invasive" plants were originally brought here from Europe for use as food crops when the Europeans first settled here. Non–native invasive plants were and still are imported from all over the world for food crops and for aesthetic horticultural reasons.

These invasive alien plants do not provide proper nourishment for wildlife. They spread rapidly, develop self-sustaining populations, upset nature’s balance and are displacing the native plants and the organisms depending on them.

You can avoid invasive plant species by using native plants in your garden. Do not take plants from the woods or wild. You can buy native plants from garden centers that sell nursery-propagated and grown plants.

Judy Eisenberg of SunandShadeGardening.com has been gardening and consulting professionally with a personal touch for more than 10 years. She is a member of the Ecological Landscape Association and member of the Somerville Garden Club in Somerville, Mass.. She can be contacted directly at SunandShadeGardening@comcast.net.