Your May Planting Guide
With the risk of frost passing in most parts of the UK, arguably the busiest time of the year for planting has come. Your UCS Fresh Garden orders of summer bedding plants will be arriving, and you may have been keeping some plants and seedlings indoors with the aim of acclimatising them to outside conditions. Now is the time!
Keep an eye on your weather apps for your area and when you see a week of night temperatures above 5C, that means the season has changed. But watch out for any sneaky visits from Jack Frost.
What to plant in May:
SUMMER BEDDING PLANTS
Classic bedding plants widely seen in British gardens include Petunias (and Crazytunias), Marigolds, Busy Lizzies (Impatiens) and Surfinia. Begonias are incredibly versatile with their large flamboyant blooms that thrive in sun and shade, Sweet Peas are particularly picturesque, and sturdy Geraniums flower all through summer and last until the first frost.
Some bedding plants are easier to maintain than others. Geranium, Begonia and Nasturtiums are easy and undemanding. Petunia and Surfinia need lots of deadheading, French marigolds are slug magnets, and Sweet Peas are attention seekers. But don’t let that deter you – we have plenty of professional advice to ensure that they thrive.
This year sees our widest variety yet of summer bedding plants for your perusal. Keep an eagle eye on our two categories on the website:
NEW ARRIVALS: These plants have begun arriving at our premises, and we are in the process of delivering them as they arrive.
SUMMER BEDDING 2022 PRE ORDER: These plants haven't arrived yet at our premises, but you are encouraged to place your orders in advance.
Large bright flowers with strong stems. Draught tolerant, Marigolds will enjoy a sunny spot in the garden. Outstanding flower power, they’ll look stunning grown together or in mixed displays. Upright and bushy with a long flowering season right up to the first frost.
Available at UCS Fresh Garden:
The sweet pea is a hardy annual climber with winged stems, mid-green foliage and ruffled fragrant flowers. Growing at a fast pace, the sweet pea will add colour and a strong fragrance to summer flower borders. They also provide bunches of gorgeously scented cut flowers throughout summer to fill jugs and vases in your home. The more you pick, the more they flower!
Available at UCS Fresh Garden:
Sweet Pea Albutt Blue with blue/purple edges and white centres.
Busy Lizzies (Impatiens)
The classic form of Busy Lizzie and one of the most popular bedding plants grown in UK gardens. The mass of bright, flat flowers makes them a fantastic plant for beds, as a groundcover under trees and shrubs, or spilling brightly out of containers on a patio or windowsill. They typically grow best in a partially shaded spot.
Available at UCS Fresh Garden:
One of the most versatile summer bedding plants, Begonias are well-loved for their large flamboyant blooms, and their ability to thrive in both sun and shade. Flowering continuously all summer until the first frosts, Begonias can be upright or trailing, and are suitable for beds, borders, hanging baskets and window boxes. Some varieties have striking dark foliage for added interest.
A popular bedding plant and for good reason! These sturdy, sun-loving plants are well-suited to hot, dry conditions and flower right through to August. Pelargoniums, commonly known as Geraniums, are versatile bedding plants for summer and include trailing, climbing and upright varieties that are perfect for beds, borders, patio containers, hanging baskets and obelisks. Order yours.
A new offering at UCS Fresh Garden, our fruit bushes are ready for next-day delivery and ready to plant.
Pot-grown gooseberries can be planted in May, but bear in mind that the plant may be flowering at this time, so you’ll need to water it regularly to ensure the crop doesn’t fail. In dry conditions, it may be best to remove any flowers and let the plant focus on becoming established, instead. After planting, mulch around the base with homemade compost to conserve moisture in the soil.
Your window for planting strawberry runners has almost closed, so plant immediately for a chance of a crop this year.
SEEDS TO SOW
Continue sowing annuals, such as California Poppies, into gaps in borders for colour from August into autumn. May is the final month to sow cornflowers to ensure you get blooms the same year. Sunflower seeds can be sown directly outside now, or into pots or multi-celled trays for planting out later. Try growing monster cultivars like Sunflower Giant Single and Tallest Sunflower or shorter varieties such as Sunflower Dwarf Sunspot for cut flower arrangements. Protect young plants from slugs and snails. You may need to stake particularly tall varieties.
Fruits and vegetables:
If you’re new to growing vegetables, beetroot is a good, easy-to-grow option. The seeds don’t need much encouragement to germinate and they require little maintenance once established. Try our Beetroot Boltardy or Beetroot Detroit.
An extremely robust crop, sprouting broccoli produces nutrient-packed, succulent spears, which are perfect for steaming, boiling and grilling. It’s easy to grow, and if you grow different varieties, you can harvest broccoli spears throughout winter and into spring. Sow into seed trays or small pots and pot on until they’re ready to plant out. Buy your Broccoli Early Purple Sprouting seeds here.
Carrots are a fantastic, easy-to-grow crop to raise from seed. Sow into shallow drills of well-prepared, stone-free soil, or in pots. Varieties to try include Carrot Autumn King, Carrot Chantenay Red Cored 2 and, for fun round carrots, Carrot Paris Market Round.
Courgettes can be direct-sown in well-prepared soil outside or in pots or multi-celled trays for transplanting later on. They also work well in containers. Plants sown last month can also be planted out now, once acclimatised. Protect young plants from slugs and snails and water regularly. Courgettes are hungry crops – feed them weekly once they’ve started flowering.
Cucumbers do best in a greenhouse but some newer varieties have been bred to tolerate outside conditions. Sow into multi-celled seed trays or individual pots and pot on when seedlings are large enough to handle.
Start sowing dwarf and climbing French beans, as well as runner beans, directly outdoors in warm weather. These vibrant purple beans are worth a try.
May is the last time to sow sweetcorn, to give the plants plenty of time to grow and ripen. For best results, sow in a multi-celled tray indoors and plant out when the seedlings are large enough to handle.
Sow sweetcorn in deep pots, so the young plants are ready to transplant into the garden in June.
Rocket is a quick-growing crop that takes up little space. Perfect for pots, direct-sow seeds on the surface of moist, multi-purpose compost and protect emerging seedlings from slugs and snails. Make regular sowings every few weeks for a continuous crop throughout summer, and harvest as and when you need to.
INTRODUCING THE SPEEDPLANTER!
May is the perfect time to get your hands on our new Speedplanters. This is your solution to hanging basket perfection and highly colourful displays!
Each Speedplanter is created using seven premium choice plants with proven garden performance. The compost in the Speedplanter is pre-charged with slow-release fertiliser to give the finished container or basket longevity in the garden.
Whether planting, sowing or potting, enjoy your time working in the garden with family and friends. Here's wishing you colour all summer long in every corner of your outdoor space!
References adapted from https://www.gardenersworld.com/what-to-do-now-may/