Gardening Tips

Time for celebration! Grow-how tips for May


HURRAY, IT’S MAY!  We 3Growbags are in celebratory mood – not only for the Coronation of King Charles III (it just HAD to be crown imperials for our feature pic this week, didn’t it), but also because we started our blog together seven years ago this weekend!

If you haven’t already, do sign up to our blog and enter our anniversary competition at the end of this post.

For many gardeners, May is the loveliest month of all.  Full of fresh flowers, new foliage and promise. But my goodness, it’s a very busy month too! We need to match the mad plant-growth going on out there with tasks like planting out the bedding and trimming formal hedges amongst a heap of other things…

Ready to party?

Are you hosting a Coronation garden gathering this weekend? I hope the sun shines for you and you have a royally fab beano. As well as stringing up the bunting, and mixing the cocktails, don’t forget to spruce up the garden.  

There are a lot of little staking, weeding and pest-control jobs that come crowding in at this time of year, however small your outdoor space.  As plants come into full growth, they appreciate a feed using organic products like blood, fish and bone or pelleted chicken manure. Tie in climbers as the shoots develop – don’t forget that many climbers like roses respond to being tied in horizontally by flowering with greater abandon.   

Tie in the stems of climbing roses horizontally, if you can. Result: loads more flowers!

Deadhead early spring-flowerers like bergenias, narcissi and hellebores (unless you want the latter to set seed). The mini-snips in our online shop are really handy for jobs like this. Stroke off any aphids or blackfly, or jet them off with water. Another great tip is make sure edges of formal features like hedging or paths are sharp and well-defined.  You can get away with all sorts of jungle in the borders if the edges of them are clipped. I do! Then you’ll just need a quick whizz around with the broom, and you’re all ready to party.

Be gentle with the bedding

Are your tender bedding plants (cosmos, tagetes, nemesia and all the rest) straining to be planted outside by now? For most of us, May is the month in which we can release them from the shackles of greenhouses, cold frames and windowsills ready to brighten our gardens all summer.  

But please let them get used to it first.  Put the trays, pots or modules outside during the day and bring them under cover each night-time for a few days, until they are ready to face the outside world unprotected.

I hope Caroline remembers to get her tender annuals used to outside conditions first before they brave the garden for the summer!

One more thing about bedding plants – take little shoots off plants like verbena now, trim away the lower leaves, tuck them into pots of compost soaked in tepid water and keep them on a windowsill.  They root easily and you’ve got more verbenas!

I want more! Cuttings from bedding plants like this argyranthemum will root easily now


I visited a lovely private garden the other day, and intend to visit more before the beautiful month of May is done.  My own will be open for the Friends of our local hospital at the end of this month and as part of an Eastbourne NGS trail at the beginning of June. We are now reaching prime garden-visiting season, and I urge you to make some space for this lovely pastime.  Big ‘National Treasure’ gardens like Sissinghurst or Biddulph Grange,  RHS gardens like Wisley or Rosemoor, or the thousands of gardens that open the gates for the National Garden Scheme – every single one will give you at least one new idea.  Probably several.  

Open Gardens
Cake – always such an important aspect of an Open Garden!

And it’s SUCH a pleasant way to learn with so many areas of personal development covered – fresh air, exercise, nosiness, scholarly study………and cake!  Find out all about what’s open in your area.  There are links at the bottom to the National Garden Scheme for England and Wales, and the Scottish Open Garden Scheme.

Gardening shorts

  • Primroses and primulas of all kinds seemed particularly bright and full of flower this year – must be something to do with all that rain we’ve had! Now they are finishing, it is simplicity itself to dig up the big clumps in your garden and pull the rosettes gently apart.  Each one will grow into a lovely little clump for next year’s display as long as it’s quickly replanted now into fertile soil and given a good watering before it goes dormant for the summer.
Dividing primroses
Pull apart primrose clumps to rejuvenate them and make more plants
  • If you sowed some cucumber seeds a few weeks ago, like I did, they should be growing on nicely now in their individual pots.  Try to keep the seedlings out of strong direct sunlight as they can be prone to getting their leaves scorched.  Keep the compost moist but not soaking, and I think it can be a good idea to water them in the morning rather than in the evening – sitting in cold and wet overnight can make them think about succumbing to rot before they’ve really got going.  When you come to moving them where you want them for the summer, try to disturb the roots as little as possible – fussy things, aren’t they, but they’re worth it!
Cucumber seedlings are fussy little blighters but they are worth it
  • This is just the time when whitefly might begin to multiply in the greenhouse. Order some biocontrols (don’t forget that they won’t work if you have used insecticides as well), or put pots of mint or French marigolds around the greenhouse, and stroke the leaves often to release the scent – the whitefly loathe it!
Rub your hands over companion plants like mint or Tagetes to release the aroma

Click here for the link to the National Garden Scheme, and here for the link to Scotland’s Gardens Scheme.

NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning. And remember to enter our free comp to spend £50 in our shop after you do!

Just click on the images: You’ll find Laura’s great ideas for creating a lasting legacy in your garden to remember the Coronation; a chance for subscribers to win £50 to spend in our shop – (literally just send ONE email to us!) and finally – we’ve got £1 off all our seedball tins this week. You’ll find Laura explaining how she’s sown them in the Seedball section of our shop – just click on the image!

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.