May Garden Tips

Photo of daffodils in UC Davis Mrak Hall circle.

Are your daffodil or Iris bulb leaves drooping? Let them turn brown before cutting them to the ground.

by Ellen Zagory, Director of Public Horticulture

New plantings. Rains seem to have stopped, so keep an eye out for wilting, young plants. Spot irrigate as needed to be sure those roots keep spreading deep into the surrounding soil.

Mulch!! Now is time to mulch over any small weeds (annual weeds can be controlled this way) and give your plants a nice cooling layer to keep that soil moisture in.  Wood chips are great as they break down slowly and don’t blow around in high winds.

Check your irrigation system.  Give it a test run, look for leaks and make repairs as needed.  If you are using a drip systems and plants are getting bigger, you may need to add another drip emitter to make sure both sides of the roots get water.  Check your timer, if you have one, and try to make your irrigation timing less frequent, but longer so the water can get deep. Watch for runoff and, if needed, alter your program to include breaks between runs; this will allow the soil time to absorb the water.

Bulbs. As leaves from bulbs like daffodils and dutch iris begin to droop, leave them to turn brown before cutting them to the ground. When the leaves are drooping, the plant is moving food from the leaves back into the bulb to prepare for next year’s growth.

Enjoy the fine weather!

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