What to Plant in May in the UK

May is when your garden really comes to life. It's a time to say goodbye to the last lingering chill and welcome a burst of beautiful blooms, fantastic fruits, and vibrant vegetables. With the weather steadily improving, your garden is ready to showcase its full potential. So if you’re asking yourself ‘what can I plant in May’, we have the answers.

3 July 2023

With the soil softened by April showers and warmed by the May sunshine, it’s the perfect time to get outside and bring to life an array of floral wonders, edible delights, and verdant plants. Start your journey by deciding what seeds to plant in May in the UK.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or an excited novice, May presents a plethora of planting possibilities, and choosing what flowers to plant in May is a favourite horticulturalist’s hobby. From alluring azaleas and beautiful begonias to tasty tomatoes and crunchy carrots, May is the ideal time to infuse your garden with diversity. But in the midst of this busy planting season, don’t forget the essential garden maintenance jobs, such as pruning, mulching, and weeding that pave the way for a healthy and productive garden.

What to plant in May? Let’s delve into the world of fruits, flowers, and vegetables, and explore the fascinating rhythm of May gardening in the UK.

Garden Maintenance in May

Gathering weeds and garden waste in a compost bag (Credit: SolStock via Getty Images)

While you’re in the process of deciding ‘what can I plant in May’, there are a few jobs that need doing in the garden.

Make sure your furniture is cobweb-free and clean, and you’ll have more garden waste so you’re going to need a big compost bin.

Before you start pruning your shrubs, walk around the garden and check for nesting birds, as well as making sure your weeding is under control. Remember to be on the lookout for pests and diseases.

What Vegetables to Plant in May

Planting young lettuce seedlings (Credit: AlexRaths via Getty Images)

Choosing what seeds to plant in May could take you a while! There’s a whole host of amazing vegetables that can go in the ground this month and you can start with a global tour of beans.

Borlotti beans from Italy, edamame beans from Japan and French beans from – believe it or not – Central and South America, can all be sown outdoors in May.

Sweetcorn can be planted in seed trays and then transferred outdoors when the seedlings are big enough, and if you planted cucumber seeds in April, you can now get them into the ground.

Purple sprouting broccoli, carrots, red chicory, peppers, parsnips and salad leaves can all go straight into the ground.

Deciding what to plant in May in the greenhouse can be a time-consuming affair because there’s so much to choose from. Sow lettuce and rocket every three weeks or so for a harvest all through the summer and autumn. If you didn’t have the space last month, courgettes, squash and pumpkins can all be sown undercover.

Herbs like basil, thyme and lovage can also be sown undercover.

Sowing & Growing Fruit in May

Raised fruit and vegetable beds, strawberries under a net (Credit: Oxana Medvedeva via Getty Images)

Strawberries and gooseberries can be planted out now and once the fruit starts to swell and ripen, cover the plants with well-pegged nets to deter birds.

Like strawberries, raspberries can also be planted out at this time. If space is at a premium, they can also be planted in containers. Indeed, raspberries is one of the best answers to the question ‘what can I plant in May’ because they will regrow year after year!

What Flowers to Plant in May

A man plants a sunflower seed in the soil. (Credit: amenic181 via Getty Images)

If you’re deciding what seeds to plant in May and you want to introduce kids to the wonderful world of the garden, nasturtiums are an easy flower to grow.

Calycanthus, also known as Carolina allspice, is a beautiful shrub that can grow up to three metres tall and the big fragrant flowers look incredible at the back of your beds. The wonderful light purple drooping clematis will come back year after year and the peony cultivar named Karl Rosenfield has huge pink blooms that are best grown in full view of the sun.

Cornflowers and sunflowers are a great choice and deciding what bulbs to plant in May can be swayed by selecting pollinators that can really help your garden’s wildlife.

Flowers such as the blue, purple and pink scabious are butterfly magnets, and blooms like lavender, cow parsnips, borage (also known as starflower), the wonderfully fragrant butterfly bush will attract a whole host of pollinators to your garden.


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