Get the most out of your garden in May with our monthly guide

Guest post by Erin aka @hortihunny

I can’t believe it’s May already! In many areas May is considered the start of summer but in Scotland it can still be very cool so keep a close eye on the weather forecast when preparing the garden for a successful summer of growing. The evenings are longer and the extra hours of sunshine take the pressure off as you don’t have to cram the jobs into a few short hours. Try to enjoy the warmer days and last bits of preparation before a busy summer of harvesting in the garden.

Lawn Care

No Mow May is a campaign which encourages you to let your grass grow for the month of May. We’ve become used to having immaculate lawns and this approach to rewilding can help flowering plants such as clover and dandelion thrive, attracting many pollinators and wildlife. 

If No Mow is not for you, maintain your lawn by adding lawn seed to bare patches and watering it in dry weather. 

Pruning and Deadheading

Many early spring flowering shrubs can be pruned back after they’ve flowered such as:

  • Forsythia, Spirea
  • Philadelphus
  • Viburnum

Deadhead rhododendrons and azaleas once the flowers have gone over by snapping the hades off, avoiding new leaf growth where possible. Deadhead spring flowering bulbs once they have gone over and leave foliage to go brown and recharge.

Weather

Keep a close eye on the weather this month. May can be a real mixed bag. It can still get to freezing point overnight so make sure you’re prepared to keep your seedlings and delicate plants warm with some fleece or bubble wrap if there’s going to be a frost. If it hasn’t rained in a few days, give containers and borders a good watering either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Open the greenhouse doors on warm days to improve ventilation.

Planting

  • Vegetable seeds can be sown directly into the ground including broad beans, peas, lettuce, spinach, chard, carrots
  • Plant main crop potatoes
  • Summer bulbs such as gladioli and lilies can be planted
  • Tubers like dahlias and geraniums can be planted into the ground
  • Plant out your sweet peas once they’ve been hardened off for a few days
  • Sow hardy annuals such as Sunflowers, Cornflowers, Zinnia, Nasturtium, Calendula, Nigella, where they are to flower

Bedding Plants

The shops are full of colourful bedding plants at the moment. It can be very tempting to plant them straight away but try to let them harden off before putting them in the ground/pots/baskets. They’ve been grown in perfect conditions for selling to customers and they don’t like the cold. Water them early in the day and if it’s going to be frosty, move your pots into shelter if you can. It’s often best to wait until late May/early June (during a warm spell) before planting bedding plants like:

  • petunia
  • impatiens
  • dianthus
  • pansies
  • snapdragons                                                                                                         
  • 20kg Caledonian Top Dressing
    20kg Caledonian Top Dressing
    £3.75£4.75 inc VAT
  • 40L Kelpie Compost
    40L Kelpie Compost
    £3.75£4.75 inc VAT
  • 40L Green Goodness
    40L Green Goodness
    £2.50£3.50 inc VAT

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