Roll up your sleeves and get ready to tidy up and prune those spring plants, while joyfully planting a colourful assortment of flowers and veggies for the summer. And hey, why not have a little fun filling in any empty spots in your garden too? May is all about embracing the energy and making your garden truly shine. So let's get out there and create a blooming paradise!
cut flowers + nectar flowers
Sowing and Growing:
- Once the frost is gone, plant out the half-hardy annuals that you've hardened off in April.
- Direct sow a meadow of wildflowers in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Just clear, dig, and rake the area, then let nature do its thing—no need to thin or stake. You can also do these in large tubs, just be conscious of not oversowing as it is a smaller space.
- Continue to thin out your hardy annuals in the seed beds to give them space to grow before planting them out.
- Now is a good time to look at any gaps in your beds and fill them by directly sowing fast-growing annuals. Cosmos are a great option with their feather foliage and bountiful blooms.
- Direct sow Zinnia's which will be strong to sprout and grow.
- For some Autumn/Winter prep do a second sowing of half-hardy undercover, like antirrhinums, amaranthus, and Moluccella laevis (aka Bells of Ireland).
- Sprinkle some biennials, like foxgloves, forget me not, and wallflowers, into your flower beds to establish and be ready over winter.
- Continue to tie up and train your sweet peas as they flourish now in the summer weather. They flower better with vertical growth, so be sure to do this every 10 days throughout summer.
There are great flowers to pick in May for some lovely scents and vibrant colours:
Sumptuous blooms are perfect for cutting and enjoying indoors.
Late varieties like 'Flaming Spring Green' with striking double, peony-like flowers.
Pink or mauve flowers add a pop of colour to borders and look great in vases. The seedheads are also unique and can be used in winter arrangements.
Spring bedding plants that pair beautifully with tulips. They come in various colours and offer a delightful fragrance.
With their vibrant greens and yellows, euphorbias make fantastic fillers in bouquets. Just be careful when picking, as the milky sap can irritate the skin.
Sow these biennial flowers in July for a fragrant spring display. They come in soft pastel shades and emit a strong clove-like scent. Night-scented stock is particularly exciting with its captivating fragrance, especially in the evening.
Cut plenty of alliums for your vase when they're in full bloom. To keep them fresh and reduce any oniony smell, add a drop of bleach or vinegar to the water. It prevents bacteria growth and slows stem ageing. Enjoy the beauty of alliums without the overpowering scent!
Bulb & Tubers
- Don't trim the foliage of finished spring bulbs; let it naturally wither and break down for strong growth next year. Add liquid fertiliser for an extra boost and remove faded flowers to save energy.
- Plant gladiolus bulbs in succession for a continuous display of stunning blooms. Space out the planting for a steady stream of floral beauty.
- Lift and divide fading bluebells while they're still actively growing. Transplant "in the green" for quick root establishment. Remove flower heads during the process.
These simple steps will ensure your post-spring bulbs thrive and create a beautiful display in the future.
- Time to give your garden a little TLC! Here are some pruning and trimming tips to keep things looking tidy and promote healthy growth:
- Try the "Chelsea chop" on later-flowering perennials. Trim a third of the stems by a third and another third by two-thirds, extending the blooming season.
- Tidy up allium foliage, removing it without harming the bulbs.
Prune spring-flowering shrubs to promote next year's growth. Use hand shears for gentle box hedge trimming.
- Trim back plants like alyssum after flowering to encourage new growth and more blooms.
- For early-flowering clematis, consider trimming if they've filled their space. Late-flowering varieties may need support, so remember to tie them in.
- Keep dividing congested perennials and stay on top of weeding for a well-groomed garden.
- With these pruning and trimming tasks, your garden will thrive and look its best!
- Plant half-hardy annuals or directly sow French beans, carrots, sweetcorn, squash, and pumpkins.
- Keep the successional sowing of salads, radishes, beetroots, carrots, and peas for a continuous summer harvest.
- Water the drills before sowing seeds and cover them with dry soil. Don't forget to water daily in dry weather.
- It's time to plant courgettes in most areas. Ensure they have full sun and shelter, and moisten the pots before planting.
- Safeguard crops from carrot fly by covering them with horticultural fleece or enviromesh.
- Directly sow basil, especially near tomato seedlings to keep white flies away.
- Manage mint roots by lifting and dividing or growing them in pots. You can bury the pots with other herbs if preferred.
- Trim down perennials like chives, lovage, fennel, and marjoram to the ground for a quick regrowth.
In the future, or maybe even now, enjoy picking and eating:
- Brassicas: kale, pak choi, purple sprouting broccoli and spring cabbage
- Roots: radishes and early carrots
- Salad crops: salad leaves, pea tips, and lettuce
- Edible flowers: borage and marigolds
- Leafy greens: chard and spinach
- Legumes: first of the broad beans
- Squash: first indoor courgettes
- Herbs: soft herbs like parsley, chervil, coriander, par-cel, first sorrel, and evergreens like rosemary, sage, bay, winter savoury, mint, tarragon, first dill, oregano, and basil (indoors)
- Fruit: strawberries, rhubarb, and thin gooseberries on the branch.
- Protect your eyes by putting soft tops on the tips of canes in borders, vegetable plots, pots, and greenhouses.
- Condition your wooden garden furniture for summer by applying wood treatment.
- Increase your recycling efforts by setting up an additional compost bin or worm bin to handle more green waste.
- Encourage leafy growth in your lawn by applying nitrogen-rich summer lawn feed.
- Create grass pathways through wildflower areas for easy walking among the flowers.
- Regularly hoe bare soil and hand-weed beds to prevent weeds from establishing and setting seed.
- Provide support for clumps of perennials prone to flopping, such as peonies and phlox.
- Keep topiary looking neat and promote bushy growth through regular trimming.
- If needed, sow grass seed or lay new turf by the end of the month to repair or create a lawn.
- Prior to pruning shrubs, check for nests to avoid disturbing nesting birds.
- Maintain hygiene by cleaning out and scrubbing bird feeders regularly.
- Construct sturdy wigwams and supports for climbers like runner beans, sweet peas, and morning glory.
- Keep an eye out for aphids on shoot tips and young foliage. Wipe them off or use a soap-based solution to control them.