The First Month
of the Rainy Season
May usually signals the beginning of
Florida's rainy season, although it is not at all unusual for May to be as dry as March
and April some years. On average we can expect to receive nearly seven inches of rain this
month, the daily high temperature rises to about 85º while the daily low does not usually
fall below 71º. In May, the prevailing wind direction is from the east-southeast
with an average velocity of 9.5 miles per hour.
Along with the warmer and wetter weather come the insects: Chinch
bugs, scale insects, caterpillars, grasshoppers, katydids, and an army of other bugs.
But be cautious with the insecticides as along with the bad bugs come the beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies and ladybugs.
Indiscriminate and over use of insecticides tends to throw off the natural
good-bug/bad-bug balance in your garden. Over time the bad bugs tend to build up
their resistance to the poison and become less controllable while the pollinators and
predators become weaker and their numbers decline. When this happens you will end up
using more and stronger poisons to control the bad bugs. They in turn will become
more resistant and the cycle will continue to the point where the bad bugs will thrive
while the critters that should be in your garden will not and your garden will require
massive doses of insecticide to do well (for example, consider how ineffective
Fire Ant poisons are). Meanwhile you will notice that birds,
lizards, frogs and toads, bees and butterflies are no longer present in your yard.
May in the Florida Garden is also the time
for several flowering trees and vines to show off their best. The list includes
Tabebuia (magnificent golden blooms), Bougainvillea (with colors of red, yellow,
peach, purple, crimson, pink, white, apricot, magenta, orange and highlights and
mixes of all of the above depending on the variety of the plant), Wisteria (which can grow
and flower in South Florida, but flowers better further north), Tibouchina (purple or pink
flowers), Golden Shower Tree, Yellow Poinciana, and Crape Myrtle (cloaked in many colors
including red, pink and purple).
May is also the month to consider heavy pruning of
many plants including trees which may be a threat during the upcoming hurricane season.
When fertilized and watered, if required, they will come back and produce dense,
bushy growth during this month despite the pruning.
May is the month to begin planting trees, shrubs and
vines. But wait until after the first rainy spell to plant so that the ground is
thoroughly wet. Even then continue to water as needed in case the rains do not soak
your area as expected. If you are still hoping to plant a traditional vegetable,
herb or annual garden this month these are your best bets:
Vegetables: Calabaza, Chayote, Cherry Tomatos, Collards, Cowpeas, Dasheen, Lima Beans, Malabar
Spinach, Malanga, Mustard, Papayas, Okra, Peanuts, Pumpkins, New Zealand Spinach, Snap
Beans, Southern Peas, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips, Yams, and Yard-long Beans.
Basil, Chives, Dill, Sage, Savory, Sweet Marjoram, Mint and Thyme.
Balsam, Begonias, Blue Daze, Celosia, Coleus, Cosmos, Cockscomb, Four-o'clocks,
Gaillardia, Globe Amaranth, Gomphrena, Hollyhocks, Impatiens, Marigolds, Melapodium, Moon
Vine, Morning Glories, Periwinkles, Petunias, Portulaca, Purslane, Salvia, Sunflowers,
Torenia and Zinnias.
Achimenes, Agapanthus, Blood Lilies, Caladiums, Canna, Crinums, Daylilies,
Gladioli, Gloriosa Lilies and Spider Lilies, and Zephyranthes (Rain Lilies).
Florida Home Grown;
Florida Gardening Month by Month