15 garden tips for May

May's vibrant spring blooms and the promise of summer make it a delightful time for gardening. As your outdoor space explodes with life, there's much to accomplish. Here are our top 15 gardening tasks to tackle in May.

  1. Harden off your dahlia and canna tubers for planting later this month. This gradual introduction to cooler temperatures helps them thrive outdoors.
  2. Sow vibrant annuals like cornflowers, Nigella, and poppies directly in your garden for a stunning summer display. Get the kids involved by planting sunflowers and nasturtiums in pots or garden beds.
  3. Start your summer veggies indoors by sowing pumpkin, courgette, and French bean seeds in pots. They'll be ready for transplanting next month.
  4. Boost your broad bean harvest by pinching out the growing tips once the first beans appear. This discourages blackfly and encourages more bean production.
  5. Enjoy delicious rhubarb responsibly! Pick only a third of the stems per plant to ensure a healthy harvest next year.
  6. Maximize your potato haul by continuing to earth them up. This not only increases yield but also prevents sunlight from turning the tubers green and toxic.
  7. Bring on the summer blooms! Fill pots and hanging baskets with colorful bedding plants like begonias and geraniums. Remember to wait until the frost risk has passed before planting them outdoors.

    common garden petunia
  8. Plant basil seeds in pots on a sunny windowsill. They sprout easily, so avoid overseeding for best results.

  9. Don't let summer fool you! May is prime time to get a head start on winter vegetables. Sow kale seeds indoors in pots within your greenhouse, and sow parsnips and Brussels sprouts directly outdoors in your vegetable beds.

  10. If you've been nurturing tomato seedlings indoors, May is the perfect time to begin hardening them off. This process gradually acclimates them to outdoor conditions, preparing them for transplanting next month.

  11. Once the foliage on your spring bulbs starts to yellow, it's safe to cut it back. This is also a great opportunity to lift and divide overgrown bulb clumps – easier to do while you can still see exactly where they are located!

  12. Keep your early-flowering Clematis varieties (Group 1) like Clematis armandii and Clematis montana in check by pruning them after they finish flowering. This prevents them from becoming overgrown.

  13. For shrubs like forsythia that bloomed in spring, a post-bloom pruning is recommended. This encourages them to develop a healthy bud structure for next year's blooms. Simply cut back flowered shoots to a strong set of lower buds.

    showy forsythia
  14. Fight back against annual invaders in your borders and veggie patches. Use a Dutch hoe on dry days to chop them down, but be a hero to your precious plants and avoid harming their roots. Persistent perennials need a more targeted approach – dig them out with a hand fork or daisy grubber. Remember, vigilance is key! The saying goes: "one year's seeding means seven years' weeding!" Prevent those annual weeds from setting seed whenever possible.

  15. Show your lawn some love (and the pollinators too!) Mow regularly this May, but consider leaving a small patch unkempt. This will create a beautiful and beneficial wildflower haven for bees and butterflies.

Ready to take your May garden to the next level? We have everything you need at Carpenters Nursery! Find the perfect plants, seeds, and tools to bring your gardening dreams to life.