Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 7-8

May 1 to May 31-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.

Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:

The month of May is when summer gardening really kicks off in earnest in our growing zones. There is finally no danger of frost and the soil temperatures are starting to rise enough so that warm-weather vegetables will actually grow, rather than sitting in the soil experiencing weather whiplash. It’s time, if you have not yet, to switch out your garden, removing cool-weather vegetables and flowers and planting warm-weather vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers and warm-weather flowers such as zinnias and marigolds. Make sure you keep a close eye on watering—for everything—right after it goes in the ground. Transplants dry out pretty quickly and might need to be watered daily for the first couple of weeks.


map for zone 7-8

Your Regional reporter

Katie Peters regional reporter photo

Katie Elzer-Peters is the author of Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening, Carolinas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Southern Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and many other vegetable gardening books. She lives in coastal North Carolina, where she enjoys four-season gardening.

To see what Katie's doing in her garden. Click Here!

1. How to grow vegetables in containers.

Have you hesitated to grow your own vegetables because you have only a small balcony or back garden? Luckily, that is no longer an issue. With new, compact varieties, deep self-watering containers, and a little knowledge, you can now fill your dinner table with veggies you tended and harvested yourself. Learn how to grow some of the most popular vegetables—tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers—by watching our instructional videos.

2. Grow great container vegetable varieties.

Now that you know how to grow container vegetables, it’s time to select the plants. Certain varieties are better-suited for space-limiting containers than others. For instance, determinate or patio type tomatoes are better than indeterminate tomatoes (which just keep growing). We have a great gift collection with several container-specific edibles. There are also some new varieties of old favorites, such as a more compact-growing okra, that you might want to try, as well.

  • Balsam, Mix, , large
  • Okra, Baby Bubba Hybrid, , large
  • Tomato, Tumbler Hybrid, , large

3. Learn about garden design.

Rather than buying plants willy-nilly and trying to figure out what to do with them when you get home, spend a little bit of time reading up on design and sketch out a little plan. Garden design seems confusing at first glance, but it isn’t terribly complicated, once you learn a few basics. Read our article about color to learn how to create some fantastic new combinations. If you enjoy perennial gardens, you’ll be thrilled with the information in “Using Layers in the Garden.” Finally, for something different, consider planting a night garden with plants that shine in the moonlight. We tell you how.

4. Plant a multi-level perennial garden.

Because you’ve read up on the basics of garden design, you’re ready to start planting! Here is an easy-grow combination of perennials that all have the same relative needs (full sun, soil on the dry side) and will provide you with summer-long color and some fall interest. For a border garden, simply buy multiples and repeat the combinations along the garden bed.

  • Ornamental Grass Collection, , large
  • Rudbeckia, Goldsturm, , large
  • Delosperma, Fire Spinner PPAF, , large

5. Grow a self-watering container garden.

Self-watering containers make gardening so much easier in our growing zones. By mid-summer, plant roots have all but taken over the pots, leaving little room for soil to hold water for plants to take up. Whether you use these containers to grow ornamentals or edibles, you’ll have peace of mind that your plants will always look great and have adequate water, even on the hottest of days. No more running home at lunch in a panic to water your plant for the second of three times in a day. Gardening should be fun, not stressful.

  • Self-Watering Hanging Basket, , large
  • Self Watering Planter , Trio 30, , large
  • Cascading Planter, , large