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Thursday, 9 May 2013

This Month in your Garden - May


If you’re a bedding plant enthusiast then you’ll be extra-busy towards the end of the month as the sooner you plant the sooner you will have flowers. But beware, you can still get frost in May. Having said that it’s more likely you will be busy with your busy lizzies, petunias and salvias and other half-hardy plants, planting them in drifts among shrubs and herbaceous plants.

Remember as well some plants such as mimulus, lobelia and of course busy lizzies do well in shade, along with Senecio cineraria, begonias and coleus.


In the middle of the month you’ll be clearing the ground and carefully lifting spring bulbs, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips (keep as much root as possible). The same applies to those in containers. You can heel them in temporarily – make a trench about 150cm/6” deep and lay the bulbs in this with their leaves exposed, covering the bulbs and roots with soil. 

Any daffodils you are not moving will benefit from feeding as soon as the flowers fade.  Dahlias give a dazzling display but they are tender. You can plant tubers towards the middle of the month but don’t put growing plants out until the first week of June (and depending on where you’re located). You can start tubers in pots in the greenhouse or on a warm windowsill but don’t let them get cooked in the sun. 

When shoots appear you can take cuttings to propagate more plants. May is a good month to start aquatics if you’re a pond lover. Give some attention to the greenhouse if you have one by shading plants when needed and stepping up the watering regime. 

Consider what you need for supporting border plants, and that gives you a good excuse to go off to the garden centre and see what’s available.  

  • Treat roses for greenfly and apply organic slug pellets to protect plants and vegetables
  • Take soft cuttings of shrubs
  • Plant out hardy annuals raised under glass
  • Remove old leaves from pinks and carnations
  • Check supports for climbers and tall plants
  • Sort through your seed packets for what you can sow
  • Divide spring flowering plants such as primroses for next year
  • Tie in sweet peas and use plant rings as they grow
  • Take softwood cuttings of favourite herbs
  • Divide water lilies and replant in aquatic compost
  • Clean the greenhouse thoroughly if not already done and maintain a good airflow
  • Feed young plants regularly
  • Harden off young plants outdoors during the day or leave greenhouse windows and doors open
  • Clear out containers ready for summer displays and look out for vine weevils in the compost
  • Plant out hardy perennial seedlings and alpines grown in March

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