University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
FEEDING HUMMINGBIRDS AND OTHER MAY
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
Proper flowers and feeding for
hummingbirds, proper watering, and correct timing on moving
bulbs, are some of the gardening tips for this month.
Hummingbirds arrive back in our area
usually in late April in southern locations, early May in the
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.
two cups of sugar to a quart of water,
heat to dissolve, then allow to cool before placing out. Don't
other additives such as food coloring. Refrigerate what you don't
the feeder food every few days. If your
feeder hangs from a pole, and ants find it, put vaseline on a section
pole to deter the ants.
Even if you put up hummingbird
feeders, also plant some of their favorite flowers, such as fuchsias,
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 long enough to moisten the
around the root zone of the plant. Sprinkling a little water on plants
every day can do
more harm than good by encouraging the roots to stay close to the
they are susceptible to drying out faster. Stick your finger into the
if it's dry two inches deep, it's time to water. Apply enough water to
the soil a bit deeper than the roots.
If you want to move some
spring-blooming bulbs to another spot, wait until the foliage has
later in summer, then carefully dig them up and let them dry in a shady
for a few days. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place for the summer
time to plant them in fall. If you need to move the bulbs sooner, dig
"heel" in (temporarily plant) out of the way, marking where they are
so you can find them once the foliage has died.
Use clay or metal "plant
feet" underneath large containers to help with drainage and to keep
from staining wood decks and steps. For heavy indoor plants that you
outdoors, use plant trivets with four casters to make moving them in
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.
twine from stake to stake to encircle the plant. Or you can wrap the
around each stake and the one across from it, to make a criss-cross
the plant stems to grow through. If you set the cages in place now, the
will soon hide them. In contrast, trying to tie up toppled plants is
frustrating and usually ends up looking ridiculous.
Other tips for this busy month
include planting cool vegetable crops early, such as carrots, lettuce,
broccoli and cabbage. Wait until the
usual last frost is past for warm crops such as tomatoes, eggplants,
and for sowing seeds of melons, squash, and corn.