Low Desert Arizona Garden in May

What grows in low desert Arizona gardens in May? I’ll show you. All of these pictures come from my garden in Mesa, Arizona. Although the temperatures are beginning to climb, May in the Arizona garden is one of the most beautiful and productive times of year.

The heat brings with it important garden tasks – mulching and providing shade are two of the most important to help the garden survive the summer. Keep reading for garden inspiration, a May garden checklist, and a list of which vegetables, herbs and flowers to plant in your Arizona garden in May.

Arizona Garden in May

"It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season." ~ Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

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What to Grow and Plant Arizona Garden #arizonagarden #arizona #garden #garden

Vegetables growing in the low desert Arizona garden in May

Arizona Garden in May

May is a great month for tomato harvests. Because of the heat of Arizona summers, we have a short growing season. 

Varieties highly recommended for Arizona include Punta BandaCelebrityPearson and Cherokee Purple.

Arizona Garden in May

Summer squash grows quickly. What is small one day is often ready to harvest the next day. Summer squash tastes best when small and tender. Harvest squash when fruits are 4-6 inches long.

Arizona garden in May

Cucumbers grow best with a long warm (but not hot) growing season. To overcome the challenges of growing cucumbers in Arizona, the key is to plant cucumbers early in the season and plant short-season varieties, such as Collier cucumber pictured here, that will ripen before the hottest days of summer.

Arizona garden in May

Harvest beans when they are small and tender. As beans mature, they lose flavor and the pods begin to bulge with seeds. This signals to the plant to stop producing.

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Tips for growing flowers in the low desert Arizona garden in May

In Arizona, plant sunflowers from February through July, so you can enjoy the blooms nearly year-round. Pops of yellow flowers brighten up a summer yard.

Learning how to grow sunflowers is an easy way to add color and variety to a summer garden and yard.

Arizona garden in May

Plant red salvia in September and October and again from March to May.

Blooms from April through December.

Cut back spent blooms to encourage branching and more blooms. 

For more information about growing red salvia and other flowers that love hot summers, read this post

Arizona garden in May

Hollyhocks put on a show in late April through June. Enjoy the prolific blooms. Save seeds to spread around your yard and share with friends. 

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Fruit trees in the low desert Arizona garden in May

Arizona Garden in May
Anna Apple in bloom

Some varieties of apricots may ripen this month. Pick them just before they are ripe to prevent the birds from getting them first. 

This publication from the University of Arizona Extension Office has a list of deciduous fruit and nut trees that do well in the low desert of Arizona.

Arizona Garden in May

May in Arizona means blackberry and strawberry harvests. To prevent strawberries from drying out, water strawberries every day during the month of May. Blackberries are sweetest when “dull black”. 

Peaches in Arizona garden in May

The early-ripening varieties of peaches are often ready to harvest this month. 

If you notice the birds are beginning to peck it, harvest the fruit a little early and let it continue to ripen on the counter. 

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Herbs in the low desert Arizona garden in May

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Basil is back in the garden this month. Continue to plant basil from seed, and set out transplants this month. Keep basil cut back to ensure full plants and plenty of basil. This post shares a favorite harvesting tip for basil. 

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Feed bay laurel with a balanced fertilizer in May, July and September for a healthy, happy plant. 

Always dry bay leaves before using. The bitter tasting compounds in the fresh leaves are lost in drying. 

Lemon balm in Arizona garden in May

Lemon Balm (in the Mint family) loves the warmer temperatures of May. Hopefully frost damaged or woody growth was pruned in March and new growth is filling in the plant. 

The new tender leaves are the most flavorful. Keep tips pruned to encourage production. 

Arizona garden in May to-do list:

Arizona garden in May


  • Plant container-grown roses this month on the north or east sides of yard that receive afternoon shade in the summer.
  • It is ok to plant summer flowering shrubs. Do not over plant, be aware of mature size of plant, and space accordingly.
  • Get warm-season annuals planted this month. 
  • Start seeds indoors this month for a monsoon planting of tomatoes. 
  • Harvest garlic and onions this month. 


  • Do not overwater or underwater this month. Both are harmful for plants. 
  • Check irrigation system and timer. Run system, and inspect all drips and sprinklers for leaks and proper watering. 
  • As temperatures heat up, annual plants will need more frequent watering. Water to a depth of about 6 inches every 2-3 days; allow top of soil to dry out before watering again. 
  • Check containers with a moisture meter or make sure top inch or so of soil has dried out before watering. 
  • Established citrus trees should be watered once every 7-10 days to a depth of 2-3 feet. 
  • Water established fruit trees once every 3-5 days to a depth of 2-3 feet.
  • Grape vines need deep watering every 5 days. 
  • Wateruseitwisely.com is a helpful resource for landscape watering guidelines. 


  • Deadhead annual warm-season flowers such as coreopsis, gaillardia, marigold and cosmos to extend bloom. 
  • Light pruning of dead branches from trees and shrubs is okay. Delay heavy pruning until later in the fall.   
  • Minor pruning of citrus is okay; delay heavy pruning until later in the fall. 
  • Do not prune newly-planted trees or shrubs. 
  • Cut back (slightly) spring-flowering perennials. 
  • Pinch back summer-flowering perennials to encourage blooms. 
  • Prune suckers of tomato plants, and pinch back basil often to keep from flowering. 


Arizona garden in May
Remove spring-flowering annuals, and harvest seeds

Yard to do and clean-up:

  • Clean up fallen fruit from deciduous trees and citrus trees to discourage pests and disease. 
  • Provide support for grapevines. Check underside of grape-leaves for skeletonizer eggs; if found, remove and destroy eggs. If you see caterpillars, use Bt to control before they overtake grapevines. 
  • Continue to thin fruit on deciduous fruit trees. This article helps explain the process. 
  • Prune suckers (shoots growing straight up below the bud union) on citrus and other fruit trees. 
  • Remove spent winter-growing annuals. Save seeds from wildflowers like poppies.  
  • Thin warm-season annuals to keep plants from overcrowding each other. 
  • Clean up and remove dead or damaged wood and crossing branches on citrus. Delay major pruning on citrus until later in the fall. 
  • Apply a 3-6 inch layer of mulch around base of shrubs, trees, annuals and vegetables. Mulching reduces soil temperatures and adds organic matter to the soil. 
  • Provide shade for annual vegetables with shade cloth, or plant in areas that receive afternoon shade.
  • Harvest garlic late in the month when tops are almost dry. Once pulled, let garlic lie in bed for a day to dry out.  Store in a dry shady spot to dry for 2 weeks. Store in a cool dry location. Use some and save largest bulbs to plant in the fall. 
  • Harvest remaining I’itoi onions this month. Store in a dry, shady spot for a week or two. Store in a dry cool location. Use some and save some to plant in the fall. 

What to plant in your low desert Arizona garden in May

Arizona Garden in May

Vegetables to plant in the low desert in May

 Plant from seed or transplant: Amaranth, Armenian CucumberBasil CantaloupeOkra,  Malabar Spinach, Roselle Hibiscus

Plant from seed: Black-eyed peas, Edamame, Yardlong Beans

Plant from slips: Sweet Potatoes

Arizona Vegetable Planting Guide helps you learn when to plant vegetables in Arizona, and whether to plant seeds or transplants.

With 50 vegetables listed that grow well in the low desert of Arizona you are sure to find one to try. 

Flowers to plant in the low desert in May

Arizona Garden in May

Angelonia, Balsam, Celosia, Coleus, CoreopsisCosmos, Dusty Miller, Four O’Clock, Impatiens, Globe Amaranth, Lisianthus, Marigold, Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia), Ornamental Pepper, Portulaca, Purslane, Salvia, SunflowerVincaZinnia

Arizona annual flowers planting guide helps you learn when to plant flowers in Arizona, and whether to plant seeds or transplants.

Would you like the low-desert planting dates for vegetables, herbs, and flowers in a convenient calendar? 

*PLANTING GUIDE: Each month has a planting guide (letter boards) for the vegetables, herbs, and flowers to plant in the low desert of Arizona. 

*HARVEST GUIDE: Harvest guides are the harvest photos of what it is possible to harvest each month. 

Want more information about gardening in Arizona? This blog post shares 7 tips for  how to grow a vegetable garden in Arizona

What do you want to learn about next?


4 Comments on Arizona Garden in May

  1. Thanks for all your helpful information! It is greatly appreciated. Quick question for you; where can one find straw for mulching? I have used cedar chips, and wood chips, but both break down very slowly. I want to try straw. Happy gardening!

    • Straw is a great option and it cools the soil very well. Unfortunately, I don’t have a local source to recommend. Check with local farmers or even online on apps such as offer-up. Best of luck with your garden!

  2. I am so glad I found your website. It is, by far, the most helpful resource for me here in my AZ garden. Thank you!

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