The weather is warming up and the days are longer, all signs are pointing to the fact summer is just around the corner. We’re back again with our gardening guide for the month of May.
Bulbs will be beginning to fade now. You may wish to leave them to naturalise if grown in grassy areas or difficult to get to, otherwise lifting and storing bulbs is required.
Wait for at least 6 weeks after the end of flowering to then cut back any dead foliage. The foliage you’ll want to remove should be yellow and straw-like. Continue to water and feed the bulbs until they get to the stage of yellowing leaves.
You are now ready to lift your bulbs.
Once lifted trim the roots and the outer layer of loose, flaking tunic. Look to keep the healthiest bulbs and any that appear damaged or diseased should be discarded. Place the healthy bulbs in a tray to dry for 24 hours, this will help prevent against fungal rots during storage.
Fill paper bags with the bulbs, making sure to label them and leave in a cool dry place ready for replanting in the autumn.
With summer around the corner you can get stuck into planting your borders and containers with summer bedding plants. This can be done towards the end of this month to avoid any risk of frost.
When choosing your plant selection aim to cover various heights, from taller plants such as geraniums, pelargoniums and antirrhinums which should be planted centrally or to the back. Mid-level plants such as petunias and if you’re planting a container, make the most of the pot height by growing trailing lobelias, some petunia varieties and fuchsias over the rim of the container. A low growing, carpeting type summer bedding such as bacopas would be a great way to bring colour to the front of your borders.
You’ll want to start mow your garden weekly, this will keep your garden looking great but also maintain the health of the lawn. Once we enter summer mowing should become a twice weekly job, unless in a period of draught then once a week is sufficient.
Remember never to mow wet grass as this can damage the turf and compact the soil and you may also find dry or shady areas will require less mowing.
Keep reducing the cutting height gradually until a desired height is reached.
As your garden flourishes, so will the weeds, so keep on top of them by hoeing regularly to disrupt the soil and lift the weed seedlings. For tougher, deep rooted weeds you can use a weed killer by brands such as Resolva or Roundup, or pulling by hand. A weed killer has the benefit of destroying the whole plant, removing the possibility of it growing back again.
Keep up with the watering, particularly of containers where the water will evaporate more quickly. Aim to water during the morning or evenings to avoid evaporation from the day’s heat.
Pruning in May
Cut back evergreen hedges and tender shrubs such as penstemon, remembering to check for any birds nests in the hedging beforehand.
Evergreen shrubs will benefit from having any frost damaged areas pruned and prune spring-flowering shrubs.
Stake your taller herbaceous plants such as peonies and tie in climbing and rambling roses making sure to lay the stems horizontally which will encourage the plant to produce more flowers. Sweet peas and edible pea varieties along with beans will need canes supporting them.
Inspect your plants for viburnum beetle, you will notice them by the holes eaten in the leaves. The larvae is creamy-yellow in colour with back markings, growing up to 8mm long. The beetle is a greyish brown and grows approx. 4.5-6mm long.
Lily beetle grubs are also a problem during May, feeding on lilies and fritillaries leaving round holes in leaves and petals. The larvae are reddish brown with back heads, growing approx.6 – 8mm long.
Strawberries should be protected by placing a layer of straw beneath them and all soft fruit should be netted to protect from birds eating your crop.
Rhubarb can be picked, selecting only on-third of the total amount of stems.
Hang pheromone traps in plum and apple trees, this will help monitor for plum-fruit-moth and codling moth before they’re a problem.
For more planting ideas and growing tips speak to one of our plant experts in store today.