May, marvellous May! It’s arrived at long last – still a bit chilly here and there but the sunshine seems to winning-out (just)!
May is one of the finest months in the gardening year with bright, fresh growth and larger swathes of flowers really beginning to emerge. So get out there quick, before the next heavy shower arrives.
These make a great addition to the summer garden and can be planted up with a variety of plants depending on your preference. If you have a shady spot near the house consider planting a basket up with ferns, trailing ivy and white flowered impatiens.
For sunnier areas or more colourful combinations choose trailing geraniums and fuchias.
In either case make sure you plant up firmly to avoid your plants tipping out of the basket, plant near the edges and work towards the middle and provide a good granular feed and regular watering to ensure a lovely display. Keep deadheading all summer and you’ll have a beautiful display.
Divide hostas as they come into growth, and also continue to divide herbaceous perennials to refresh their vigour.
Allow bulbs like narcissus and tulips to die down naturally and avoid cutting their foliage as this will weaken their growth for next year.
Prune spring flowering shrubs once they’ve finished their display.
If you want to prevent forget-me-nots from spreading everywhere lift the plants before they go over to seed.
Softwoood cuttings from sage and other shrubby herbs can be taken now. You can also take cuttings from tender perennials like pelargonium and pot them on to grow over the summer.
Tie in rambling and climbing roses as they put on growth to guide their shape. Also tie in sweet peas, and prune back early flowering clematis to tidy it up when the flowers have faded.
Top dress plants in pots to refresh their nutrients and keep them well watered from now on. A liquid feed is also very useful for promoting strong growth and flowering.
It’s inevitable that as the fine weather takes hold, the pests come out too. Check rosemary, viburnum and lily for their respective beetles and remove where you find them.
Check roses for black spot and remove any affected foliage but don’t put it in the compost.
Continue to weed beds and borders thoroughly to keep weeds at bay.
Pinch out the growing tops of broad beans to encourage a vigorous, bushy habit.
Protect carrots from carrot fly with companion plants to deter them from the smell or with horticultural fleece as a physical barrier.
Continue to earth up potatoes.
If you sowed tomatoes to grow outdoors, begin to harden them off.
Support pea plants as they grow.
Harvest rhubarb – delicious!
Put pheromone traps up in your fruit trees to deter their respective pests.
Net soft fruits to protect them from determined birds – especially blackbirds!
Check gooseberry bushes for sawfly caterpillers and remove swiftly if found.
Clear out debris from your pond to allow light to filter down into the pond water and promote new plant growth.
Continue to pot on seedlings.
Have a good look at your lawn and consider using a weed and feed treatment to reduce weeds and encourage strong, green growth.
Make time for a cup of tea/ beverage of choice and wonder around/ sit in your plot enjoying the lovely highlights of this glorious month.