There are a number of important gardening tasks for May that will keep your property in good shape and prepare it for the warmer months to come.
At this time of year, the garden is on the edge of summer – lush and full of new life, waiting to bloom in all its floral splendor. Put in a little work now and enjoy a long season with all the beauty that nature has to offer in your own garden.
See: Garden ideas – Inspiration and ideas for outdoor spaces
Garden jobs for May on the flower property
If you want to maximize flowering time this summer, May is the ideal time to invest your efforts in sowing and planting, as most annuals can be planted during this month.
Tender bedding plants are also common, but don’t plant them out too early or you risk losing them to bad weather.
Plant out annuals
One of the most important gardening tasks in May is planting borders and containers of annual flowers that will strengthen your perennials and add summer-long color.
Semi-hard and tender annuals are prone to cold weather, so you’ll need to toughen them up before planting them out. Do this as soon as the danger of frost has passed.
Popular annuals are Kosmos, Zinnias, Nasturtiums, Nicotiana, Verbena, Phlox, Tagetes, Amaranthus, and Lobelia.
See: How to grow zinnias – an indispensable guide
“Hardening is important and means much faster growth and longer-lasting flowers,” says celebrity gardener Monty Don in his monthly advice blog. “Don’t expose them right away; put them in a sheltered place for a week to get used to your yard.”
When planting out, follow the spacing instructions on the label or package. Or when in doubt, the plant manager Sarah Raven recommends leaving 30 cm (30 cm) between most annual plants so that they can spread out sufficiently.
Sow more seeds
In May, get busy sowing fast-growing annuals like zinnias, sunflowers, and poppies. These are perfect for filling in gaps in your edges and adding lots of color. At this time of year most seeds can be sown directly, but when the temperatures are still low they can be sown under a roof.
“May is an ideal time of year to plant seeds under cover,” says horticultural expert Mick Lavelle, who is also a horticultural professor at Writtle University College. “If you don’t have a greenhouse, don’t worry, you can easily use a windowsill.”
In addition to annuals, you can grow many biennial plants from seed in May, such as foxgloves, honesty, arctic poppies, cute william, and wallflowers. These bloom the following year.
The bare-root rose planting season ended in April, so May is the ideal time to buy roses in pots at garden centers and plant them out this summer for a dazzling display.
See: How to plant roses – an indispensable guide
“There are so many adorable roses for different situations – from climbing plants to miniatures for the pot on the terrace. Decide where you want to add roses, whether you want to just cover a wall or an arch, mix in with herbaceous plants or create your own rose garden, ”says gardening expert Leigh Clapp. ‘Take into account your color scheme, combination of fragrances, and whether you want a display of flowers in a single or repetitive option.’
Stake tall plants
Most tall plants benefit from some kind of support, be it an annual cosmos, biennial foxglove, or perennial delphinium. Adding stakes or nets to support these plants is one of the most important gardening tasks in May.
“Any plant that has been knocked over or collapsed never looks the same, no matter how carefully you support it. So the secret is to support plants before they need support, ”says Monty Don. “If you put supports in place while the plants are relatively short, the new growth quickly obscures them.”
Using willow sticks and jute nets provides a softer, more natural look than bamboo sticks and green plastic nets. Add caps to the tips of the sticks to protect yourself from injuring yourself on the pointed ends.
Sow a wildflower meadow
Adding a meadow of wildflowers to your yard – even in a small corner – is a wonderful way to attract butterflies, bees, and other valuable pollinators, and to add a romantic, wild feel to your property. May is a good time to sow a meadow as the flowers can establish themselves in time for summer.
Wildflowers prefer poor, dry soils, but the location must be sunny, weed-free and well-drained. You need to rake the soil well and possibly mix in sand to create a fine seedbed before sowing the seeds.
“I would recommend starting with an annual mix and experimenting with the look you want before you start planting any of the perennial mixes,” says Leigh Clapp. “Grasses and wildflower mixes will take longer to establish, will look good in the second year, and will improve from then on. Choose an annual cornfield mix for a first summer presentation with a show of poppies, cornflowers and marigolds, ”says Clapp.
Set up hanging baskets
Traditionally, hanging baskets are planted in April, but if you haven’t already, you can add it to your gardening list for May. “The most common type of basket is a wire cage. This one needs to be lined, and while you can buy a finished liner, moss is a lot more attractive, ”says Mick Lavelle, who gives tips on creating bulky baskets.
“Use good, peat-free, multi-purpose compost for summer bedding plants, but only two-thirds full for the time being. Place a small flower pot in the center of the basket so that its edge is just below that of the basket and fill the pot with clapboard or gravel. This will make watering easier and prevent it from splattering over the sides.
“To arrange the plants in the basket, start with central flowers for a full appearance. Choose a variety that is compact and bushy. Next, position trailing plants around the edges to cover the sides of the basket. Finally, carefully fill in the root ball with more compost before watering. ‘
Give plants the Chelsea Chop
The Chelsea Chop is so named because it coincides with the world famous Chelsea Flower Show. Essentially, it is about pruning perennials at just the right time to extend the flowering period.
“Many perennials benefit from the Chelsea Chop,” says Leigh Clapp. Consider doing it on helenium, penstemon, echinacea, sedum, asters, rudbeckia, and phlox. ‘Just cut back a third to get more robust plants that will flower a little later.’
However, not all perennials respond well to this method, so if in doubt, check before cutting.
Garden jobs for May on the vegetable plot
There are several important gardening tasks on the vegetable lot for May. You can plant or plant a number of tender young plants, and you can begin preparations to protect your crops from pests.
Plant out tomatoes
After the last frosts at the end of May, you can plant out your tomato seedlings. Whether bought in the garden center or lovingly grown from seeds, it is best to harden them first so that they can adapt to the change.
Monty Don advises burying the stems deeply when planting tomatoes – “all the way to the bottom leaf, as the buried portion of the stem will develop additional roots,” he says.
See: Growing tomatoes – an expert guide
As your plants are growing, it is important to remove side shoots and competing stems from varieties of cordon. “They grow with extra vigor, and even though they carry clusters of fruit, they draw energy from the plant and reduce the overall harvest and make a cordon plant straggly,” Don says.
Plant runner and French beans
Once the soil has warmed up, you can sow French and runner beans straight away. Alternatively, you can grow them below deck so you can plant them out in early June.
When growing beans, it is best to sow them one at a time so that you don’t end up in a large oversupply in the summer. Plant every 14 days to stagger the harvest.
Both French and runner beans can be grown in space-saving pots or sacks on the patio and look attractive as they grow, making them great options for smaller gardens.
Sow salads and herbs
Sow lettuce seeds one at a time once a week or two to ensure a continuous harvest throughout the summer. Most herbs can now be sown or planted, including basil, coriander, parsley, sage, and rosemary.
“Sow basil directly, especially with tomato seedlings, to keep the whitefly away from the fruit,” says Sarah Raven.
See: Accompanying planting – your ultimate guide
Garden maintenance jobs for May
In addition to the more pleasant chores of sowing and planting, there are a number of important gardening tasks in May to keep your property in good shape.
Keep an eye on the weeds
The competitive sun and rain in May provide ideal conditions for weeds to thrive. Once the weeds are established, they will sow themselves and begin to multiply quickly, so you will need to keep removing them.
Unfortunately, it is a chore to pull them up, but a bit of hard work will pay off in the years to come. “Chop around plants in beds and borders on dry days to suppress weeds and prevent them from sowing themselves,” says Clapp.
You can now also feed your lawn weeds and fertilizer to keep it pristine.
Cut hedges and bushes
“May is the time when the plants really start to grow properly and hedges or other tightly cut shrubs soon develop a rather scruffy, unruly look; This is especially true for specimens grown as formal forms, ”says Mick Lavelle.
Now is a good time to lightly trim coniferous and evergreen hedges. “Before you cut a hedge, however, make sure that no birds are nesting; if so, wait until the end of August or September. ‘
“Cut back messy tender shrubs and subshrubs like penstemon, artemisia and fuchsia after the frost is over,” adds Leigh Clapp.
See: Ideas for garden walls – create a border or define a space with a vertical structure
Keep pests at bay
“When the growing season reaches its peak, it’s not just plants that find conditions that appeal to them. Among your treasured flowers and products is an army of pests that seem to be eager to devour your precious specimens, ”says Lavelle.
Arguably the worst of these pests is a small black beetle known as the vine weevil, which feeds on a variety of ornamental plants and fruits, especially those grown in containers.
“Adult weevils eat leaves and are rarely a serious problem; while the maggots eat roots and can be very harmful. ‘
The most effective – and most environmentally friendly – control is achieved through the use of microscopic nematodes. “The most effective of these is a species called Steinernema kraussei, which kills the larvae. They are easy to use and can be bought online or at garden centers, ”adds Lavelle.
Other creatures to watch out for include snails, sawfly larvae, fruit worms, and lily beetles.