May - Watch the weather this month. Often in May it can feel that summer has arrived but do keep an eye on the forecast to protect young plants and trees in blossom.


  • Sow hardy annuals directly into borders
  • Tie plants into supports
  • Water newly planted trees, shrubs and hedging regularly
  • Plant out chrysanthemums
  • Divide primulas
  • Sow foxgloves, wallflowers and other biennials
  • By the end of May it should be safe to plant out dahlias and other tender bedding, but watch out for late frosts and protect plants if necessary
  • Prune pyracantha, forsythia, flowering currants and chaenomeles after flowering
  • Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs

Tip: Deahead camellias

When you have a few spare moments tidy up your camellias. Although often dead flowers fall away on their own, sometimes they need a helping hand. Care should be taken not to damage new shoots as you remove old flower heads. A regular feed of ericaceous plant feed will keep the plant healthy and the foliage green. 

Fruit and vegetables

  • Feed fruit trees and bushes
  • Mulch around fruit trees
  • Pile soil up around emerging potato shoots
  • Plant out crops raised under cover, including any remaining potatoes
  • Keep fleece handy to protect trees in blossom or young plants from frost
  • Take potted strawberries into the greenhouse
  • Look out for pests and diseases, and act on the first sign of attack or infection

Tip: Don't let dandenlions beat you!

Don’t let perennial weeds such as dandelions, dock, nettles and thistles get out of hand. Dig deeply around them to remove the entire root, before they have chance to flower and seed. As crops grow, it’s easy for weeds to pop up, hidden in the foliage around them. Dig out small weeds as soon as you see them to prevent them becoming big ones which will compete with your crops for moisture, nutrients and space! 


  • Open vents on warm days, but ensure you close them in the evening
  • Put up shading in late May to prevent plants scorching and keep the temperature down
  • Pot of plants regularly
  • Take cuttings from fuchsias and hydrangeas using the soft new Tip
  • Plant baskets and hang them in the greenhouse to develop
  • Water plants daily

Tip: Acclimatise youn plants

Moving plants straight from the greenhouse outside can be a big shock. Plants need to acclimatise to their new surroundings gradually. One way to do this is to place them outside somewhere sheltered during the day and bring them back inside at night. Fresh air and a gentle breeze strengthens the plants so they are ready for planting out at the end of the month.

Around the garden

  • Feed lawns and treat weeds
  • Mow the lawn weekly
  • Sow or turf new lawns
  • Ensure if you are trimming hedges or shrubs that there are no birds’ nests
  • Divide water lilies
  • Mark clumps of bulbs which you wish to move later in the summer
  • Clean out pond filters and skim off weed from the pond’s surface
  • Install water butts under all downpipes to collect rainwater and investigate ways to use recycled water for irrigation
  • Leave spring bulbs to die down naturally
  • Regularly hoe weeds
  • Check for nesting birds before clipping hedges

Tip: Carry on composting!

Now that you are mowing the lawn use some of those clippings to warm up your compost heap. You’ll be amazed how much heat is produced as bacteria get the composting process started. Grass however does contain lots of moisture so be sparing and mix lawn clippings with other material. Variety is the key to a successful compost heap, as well as regularly mixing up the contents of your heap.

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Woodlands Nurseries
Crooklands, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7NJ
Telephone: 015395 67273

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