University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
FEEDING HUMMINGBIRDS AND OTHER
MAY GARDENING TIPS
Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
Proper flowers and feeding for
hummingbirds, proper watering of new transplants, and working on
lawns are some
of the many garden activities for this month.
Hummingbirds arrive back in our area
usually in late April in southern locations, early May in the
north. After their incredibly long journey
northward, they're ready for food. Hang
a hummingbird feeder or two this time of the year, and either use
food you can buy (a powder to mix with water), or make your own.
To make your own food for “hummers”,
add one cup of white sugar to a quart of water, heat to dissolve,
then allow to
cool before placing out. Don't use any
other additives such as food coloring.
Refrigerate what you don't use, and replace the feeder food every
days. If your feeder hangs from a pole,
and ants find it, put grease on a section of the pole to deter the
Even if you put up hummingbird
feeders, also plant some of their favorite flowers, such as
columbines, nicotiana, trumpet vine, bleeding hearts, foxgloves, and
that have trumpet-shaped blooms. They are attracted to the color red
visit flowers of other colors, too, as long as they are the right
To encourage good rooting of new
plants in the ground, make sure you water enough to moisten the
soil around the root zone of the plant. Sprinkling a little water on
every day can do more harm
than good by encouraging the roots to stay close to the surface
where they are susceptible to
drying out faster. Stick your finger into the soil and if it's dry
deep, it's time to water. Apply enough water to moisten the soil a
than the root zone.
Brace plants that tend to flop over
now, while they're still small. Use wire rings and supports, or make
by placing sturdy branches in the ground in a ring around the plant.
staking, place 3 or 4 around plants, then loop twine from stake to
encircle the plant. If you set wire cages in place now, the foliage
hide them. In contrast to supporting now, trying to tie up toppled
is frustrating and usually ends up looking ridiculous.
May is a good month to work on your
lawn. If you haven’t done so already,
rake to remove dead grass and, if you have a gravel drive, rake out
that may have gotten plowed into the lawn over winter. Top dress
bare areas with a mix of topsoil
and compost, then reseed. Use a good
quality grass seed mix containing Kentucky bluegrass, red fescue,
ryegrass. Avoid zoysia and other warm-climate
grasses as they will not grow well in Vermont.
Water seeded areas, keeping them moist as the grass starts to grow.
Plant cool vegetable crops early,
such as carrots, lettuce, peas, spinach, broccoli and cabbage. Wait
until the usual last frost is past for
warm crops such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, and for sowing
melons, squash, and corn. Have frost
protection fabric, such as you can buy at garden stores, ready for
transplants, or even use sheets or “hot caps”.
Liquid starter fertilizer, higher in phosphorus than other elements
middle number of the three in a fertilizer analysis), will help get
off to a good start.
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).