Seeds to plant now:
Indoors or in a heated greenhouse
Rock cress, Aubrieta, Aubrietia
Outside under cover
Shows and events:
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The UKGardening web site has been running since 1998. The idea behind the site has always been to provide what we think will be interesting and useful information for the novice gardener.
Jobs to do in the garden this week.
- Harden off summer bedding plants by bringing them out of the greenhouse during the day but returning them under glass at night. A May frost is not uncommon in the UK.
- When the leaves of cyclamen have fallen, stop watering and allow the bulbs to dry out.
- Continually nip out side shoots from upright (cordon) tomato plants. These reduce the amount of food available to fruit baring branches. Nip out the growing tip after the plant has produced 4-5 fruiting trusses.
- Cover strawberries and fruit bushes with netting to protect them from birds.
- Prune spring flowering shrubs after they have bloomed.
- Buy plants in strips or trays that are compact and sturdy, the compost that they are growing in should be moist. Try to buy plants in bud, with few open blooms.
- Dead head azaleas and rhododendrons.
- Introduce fish into a new pond.
- As derris powder is no longer available (Derris powder contains high levels of the rotenone, which is a strong insecticide, toxic to fish, it has also been linked to Parkinson's disease. All derris based products have been withdrawn from sale in the UK from October 2009) and chemical alternatives aren't available, use fleece or similar to cover daffodil bulbs to stop female narcissus bulb flies from laying eggs and their larvae causing damage.
- Once forced bulbs have finished flowering, plant them out into the garden.
- Remove any wayward growing raspberry shoots. They will just crowd the fruiting canes.
- Stake and tie perennials to prevent them being broken by wind and rain. Remove fading delphinium flowers to encourage a second flowering.
- Paint shading on greenhouse to lessen the scorching effect of the sun and to keep temperatures lower.
- Check the ties on climbers, flower stems and standard roses - the tops of plants can get very heavy when in full bloom or when wet.
- Sow vegetable and salad seed.
- Replant dahlia tubers that have been lifted and stored for the winter. Put a stake in now to save damaging the plant and roots once it has started growing.
- Pinch out the growing tips of annuals and some perennials to create a stockier plant and to encourage more flowers More information here.
- Pots, planters and hanging baskets can be planted up now, although keep them covered at night until all chance of frost has passed. See the hanging basket project for further information.
- Some perennials appreciate a late May prune, known as the Chelsea Chop (as it's done around the same time as the famous flower show) encouraging stronger and stockier plants often with an extended flowering period. Cut stems back by a third or a half. Plants that benefit include penstemon, hardy chrysanthemums, tall sedums, helenium and echinacea.
- Earth up the first early potatoes that were planted in March, to stop the tubers being exposed to light, turning green.
- Cut runners from strawberries (unless trying to propagate more plants). Runners will divert energy away from crop production.
- Remove spring bedding plants and lift and store spring flowering bulbs (with the exception of snowdrops).
- Prune helichrysum and artemisias shrubs to encourage bushy plants.
- Clean the leaves of smooth leaved house plants. Wipe large leaves such as those found on rubber plants, swiss cheese plants and umberella plants, with a damp cloth. Smaller leaved plants can be dipped in a bowl of clean water. Do not attempt to wash the leaves of 'hairy' leaved plants such as african violets, use a soft brush such as a paint brush or a used toothbrush.
- Support herbaceous border plants with canes, where they will be needed in late summer. It's easier to do this now while the plants are still small, this also reduces the risk of damaging the roots later in the season.
- Prune plum trees, paint fresh cuts with Arborex to prevent infection.
- May is an ideal time to create ponds / pools. Click here to see the pond project page.
- Spray roses with 'Rose Clear' to kill aphids and protect from blackspot.
- Trim hedges to encourage the branches to thicken up and to keep them neat and tidy.
- Take soft wood cuttings from thyme. Thyme cuttings take easily, so they can be stuck in the soil or in pots. Remember that thyme likes full sun and hates to be grown in the shade.
- Plant out greenhouse grown runner beans or sow them at the base of wigwams 5cm (2in) deep. Keep well watered.
- Fuchias flower from the ends of their branches, nipping out the growing tip will encourage more shoots, creating a bushier plant with more flowers.
- If becoming boisterous, prune spring flowering clematis including alpina and macropetala after flowering. Use cuttings to propagate new plants.
- The adult vine weevil, the number one garden pest, will be emerging from the soil as the temperatures rise.
- Control weeds in lawns with a selective weedkiller. Don't cut the grass for at least a week after applying. Don't put these grass cuttings on the compost heap.
- Protect plants from slugs and snails with slug pellets, course grit or traps. Alternatively try to encourage birds, hedgehogs and frogs to your garden - all prey on slugs and snails. More suggestions to reduce slug and snail damage.
- Regularly water trees and shrubs that were planted last autumn and winter. Their roots won't have had a chance to fully develop yet.
- Thin out seedlings, leaving the strongest growing plants. Water the soil gently beforehand to reduce soil disturbance.
- Cut grass weekly, long grass takes more nutrients out of the soil. It is also harder to cut and may leave yellow patches in the lawn.
- Apply a weed and feed to established lawns. Water in with a hose after a few days if it hasn't rained.
- Feed established roses with a rose fertilizer.
- Lift, divide and replant chives.
- Remove the dead heads of spring flowering bulbs. This will encourage the plant to store energy in the bulb rather than wasting it on seed production.
- If your lawn is more moss than grass, then treat with a lawn moss killer. Bare in mind that the moss will turn black within a couple of days, so don't be too alarmed. A couple of weeks after application, if you are left with bare patches in your lawn, mix equal quantities of grass seed and seived compost and scatter over the patches, cover areas with fine netting or twigs gently pushed into the soil, to protect from birds and animals. Combination lawn feed and moss killer is available, but feeding your lawn when it's not necessary will encourage it to grow quicker and therefore need to be cut more regularly.
- Scatter growmore granules under fruit trees and bushes, especially apple, pear and plum trees. If it doesn't rain for a couple of days, water the granules in with a hose or watering can. Growmore is a slow release, general fertiliser, it includes the three main plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphates and potassium).
- Your pond may have started to turn green and cloudy. This is due to a rapid increase in algae, which flourish in the warmer spring temperatures. Once the pond plants start to grow again, especially the oxygenating plants, these will use up the nutrients and create shade, reducing the amount of algae. To speed up the clearing of the water, drop a string bag of barley straw into the pond. As it begins to breakdown, it will use up the excess nutrients, reducing the amount of algae and also blanket weed. If you have a fountain or waterfall, try to position the barley underneath this, in still ponds weigh it down so it floats just below the surface of the water. Remove the barley after about six months, before it completely rots down, polluting the water.
- Spread compost from the compost bin, over the borders, this adds valuable nutrients to the soil and acts as a mulch, to retain moisture and reduce weed growth. Ensure that the soil is moist before adding mulch.
- Remove algae and moss from patios and paths with a proprietary patio and path cleaner or tar-oil winter wash.
- Chitting and growing potatoes
- Making leaf mould
- Care of Hippeastrum/Amaryllis after flowering
- Creating a compost heap
- How to lay a new lawn
- Creating a hanging basket
- Removing large branches
- Updated photo gallery