Close out the autumn season with these gardening tasks.

May gardening tasks

The essentials

  • May is an important month for rose care, as their growth is starting to slow down and they are preparing for dormancy through the winter. Continue to deep water once a week, this can be cut down in the winter rainfall areas of the country.
  • Stop feeding roses, but continue for another month in the Lowveld and KZN where the flowering season is slightly longer.
  • Continue spraying with organic fungicides against black spot, mildew and rust as cooler conditions can encourage these diseases to become more active. 
  • Snails and slugs will be on the lookout for hideaways to overwinter, so have a general clean up under perennials such as Clivias and Agapanthus, as well as around containers and don’t forget your organic snail bait around newly planted vegetable seedlings!
  • Start planning frost protection for delicate plants in inland areas using frost covers or moving container plants to shelter.
  • Remember to water your newly planted spring bulbs regularly, especially in summer rainfall areas – they must never be allowed to dry out.
  • In the winter rainfall regions, spike lawn deeply using a sharp garden fork. This improves drainage before the heavy winter rain sets in. Apply a bonemeal or superphosphate dressing to help root growth through winter.
  • Plant some winter colour such as Begonia ‘Surefire® and Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ to brighten dull shady corners.


In the edible garden

  • Sow broad beans, radishes, peas, onions, spinach, kale, lettuce. 
  • There is still time to sow cabbage, cucumbers, peppers and squashes in the warmer parts of the country, namely KwaZulu-Natal coastal areas and the Lowveld.
  • Last chance to sow herbs such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
  • Feed brassicas to give them a good growth boost. Keep a close eye out for aphids – spray regularly with an organic insecticide before they become uncontrollable! 
  • Move wormeries to a sheltered, warm place for the winter.
  • Collect and compost any last rotting fruit under fruit trees.
  • Harvest last crops of runner beans, courgettes, tomatoes and aubergines. 
  • Plant rows of ornamental kale between other winter vegetables for a knockout visual effect – grow violas and pansies (good companions to kale) between the rows. Their flowers are edible and beautiful in salads, an added bonus. 
  • Water and mulch delicate leafy crops such as lettuce and mizuna in the dry parts of the country.



Winter edible flowers in the garden and kitchen