It’s that time of year when all the busy bees and the bleating lambs should be putting a spring in your step.
May brings a promising end to night frosts and a warmer climate. Soil is beginning to warm up sufficiently for seeds to germinate and plants to start growing, so now is a great time to get to those spring and summer gardening tasks.
So we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 May gardening tips to keep your fingers green and the month of May looking and feeling fresh.
1. Sowing Seeds Under Glass
Sow your annual and perennial plant seeds, flowers, and vegetables in a greenhouse so they germinate now. You can put them out later when Jack Frost packs his bags (mid-end-May in most areas).
Those that need heat to germinate (65-77F) can be put above a radiator on a window ledge.
Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, melons, and cucumbers should stay in the greenhouse throughout the summer.
2. Pruning Roses
Pruning roses is a crucial task in your May gardening agenda to maintain healthy and vibrant plants. Follow these easy tips to master the art of rose pruning:
- Timing is key: May is the perfect time to prune roses as they should have already started new growth. Make sure to prune them hard to stimulate further growth and encourage abundant blooms.
- Prepare your tools: Before you begin, ensure your pruning shears are sharp and clean. This helps prevent damage to the plant and reduces the risk of disease spread.
- Remove dead and damaged wood: Start by removing any dead or damaged branches. Cut them back to healthy tissue, making clean cuts at a 45-degree angle.
- Shape and thin out the plant: Take a step back and evaluate the overall shape of your rose bush. Trim back any overcrowded or crossing branches to improve air circulation and prevent disease.
- Consider the “Five-Leaf Rule”: When pruning, look for outward-facing buds and make your cut just above a bud. Aim to trim back to the fifth leaf, counting from the bud, as this encourages strong, healthy growth.
- Don’t forget to clean up: After pruning, gather and dispose of all pruned material, including leaves and branches, to minimize the risk of fungal infections.
Remember, pruning roses can seem intimidating at first, but with practice, you’ll become more confident in shaping your plants for optimal growth and stunning blooms. So grab your shears and get ready to give your roses the royal treatment they deserve!
3. Spring Cleaning
Make sure your borders are weeded and last year’s deadheading complete. Everything should be cleaned up and ready for the new growth, which will spurt up very soon.
Put cane in to support perennials as well as for all runner beans and tall growing plants. Clean all flower pots, seed trays, and tools; flush all last year’s grime off them and ensure the greenhouse is clean enough to plant vegetables.
4. Grass Cutting
Now’s a great time to mull over your summer plans by cutting the grass, ensuring that the mower has been serviced, the blades sharpened, and the oil changed.
Trim the edges of your garden to keep it looking neat. Dandelions are your arch nemesis at this time of year, so make sure to at least cut the heads off before they have time to seed – or, ideally, pull them out by the root.
5. Increase Your Stock
Here’s a handy tip for May gardening for all garden enthusiasts: take softwood cuttings of perennials like phlox and chrysanthemums as soon as they come up to multiply your stock.
6. Mulch Soft Fruits
Here’s how you know Spring’s in full bloom – by mulching your soft fruits (red and black currants, strawberries, gooseberries, and raspberries) you can help improve their growth and taste.
Simply cover them with compost, manure, or organic matter, and you’re sorted. After this, add general-purpose fertilizer to the soil that’s beginning to warm up.
If you’ve already mulched then try and gather some of the mulch back, add the fertilizer, and then replace the mulch.
7. Take Care Of Your Baby Plants
Taking care of your seedlings in spring is like nurturing your own little plant babies. Here are two actionable tips to ensure your baby plants to thrive in the May gardening season:
Give them room to grow: As your plug plants start to outgrow their small pots, it’s time to give them a spacious home.
Transfer them into larger containers or plant them directly into your garden beds. This prevents their roots from getting tangled and root-bound, allowing them to spread out and absorb nutrients more effectively. Just make sure to wait until the bitter frost has bid us farewell before moving them outdoors to avoid any chilly surprises.
Shield them from the elements: Spring weather can be quite unpredictable, so it’s essential to protect your tender seedlings.
Invest in some garden fabric or use overturned buckets or jars as makeshift shields. These will guard your baby plants against unexpected temperature drops, gusty winds, or even sudden downpours.
Additionally, remember to keep an eye on soil moisture levels and provide adequate watering to keep your seedlings hydrated and happy.
8. Watering And Feeding
It goes without saying, but be sure to take care of your plants’ growth if the weather is hot (extremely unlikely, but important nonetheless).
Open the greenhouse windows and vents to allow the air to circulate to prevent pests from getting a grip. Grow marigolds in the greenhouse alongside your veg to prevent whitefly as they don’t like the scent.
9. Beat The Heat
Plant early potatoes when the soil is warm enough, or in pots in the greenhouse.
If you’re really keen, plant in all your veg now – but make sure it’s under glass, or it’s warm outside; otherwise, it won’t grow.
Sweet peas are also great to plant right away if you haven’t already.
10. Watch Out For Those Pests!
Nothing causes more garden anxiety than pesky bugs and critters!
Get slug traps or bait ready for the annual invasion to avoid losing vital plants. Get the netting over the veg plot to stop cabbage butterflies laying their eggs.
By the end of the summer, you should have your garden looking exactly like it does in the brochures.
Have you got any useful gardening tips to make your May garden look marvellous? Share with us on Twitter @greenerideal.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.