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What to Plant in May: Everything You Need to Know

Cheryl Spencer from Simply Smart Gardening
Inside: What to plant in May.

It’s time to get serious about planting!

This is the month when heat-loving veggies like tomatoes and peppers can go into the ground unprotected.

Cool-season annual flowers can be planted early in the month, but wait until after your last frost to plant tender annuals.

Keep reading to get the full list of flowers and vegetables to plant in May.

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woman planting rose in may garden - what to plant in may

What Flowers to Plant in May

  • Plant tender, warm-season annuals once the danger of frost has passed in your area. Examples include:
    • Ageratum
    • Amaranth
    • Begonia
    • Celosia
    • Chrysanthemum
    • Coleus
    • Geranium
    • Impatiens
    • Marigold
    • Nicotiana
    • Verbana
    • Zinnia
  • Plant ground covers under shade trees that do not allow enough sunlight to grow grass. Vinca minor or English ivy are ground cover plants that grow well in the shade.
  • Plant ornamental grasses.
  • Bulbs can be moved or divided after the foliage dies.

Related: June planting guide.

  • Divide mums and other late bloomers.
  • Divide early spring bloomers when they finish flowering.
  • If you didn’t plant summer bulbs last month, plant lilies, freesia, gladiolus, calla lilies, and crocosmias after all danger of frost has passed.

My favorite planting tools

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  • Try growing annual vines to provide interest in a small, vertical space. They can disguise ugly walls and fences. Try morning glory, nasturtium vine, and scarlet runner bean.
  • Continue to plant new perennials, ornamental grasses, and roses. If plant roots are root-bound (encircling the pot), make four cuts into the bottom of the root ball with a sharp tool, and flare the sections outward when planting.
As a bonus for joining my weekly newsletter, download a free gardening in May checklist. You’ll be sure to get the right things done this month!

What Vegetables to Plant in May

  • Make new sowings of warm-season vegetables after harvesting early, cool-weather crops. Examples include:
    • Beans
    • Cucumber
    • Melon
    • Pumpkins
    • Squash
  • Place a stake by seeds of squash and cucumbers when planting in hills so you can locate the root zone – for watering the plants after the vines have run.
  • Direct-sow herbs: dill, cilantro, chervil, fennel, and parsley Thin-out seedlings in a couple of weeks or use square foot spacing and reduce thinning chores.
  • Take cuttings, 3 to 4 inches long, of marjoram, rosemary, sage, and thyme from last year’s growth.
  • Divide and replant mint and thyme that has overgrown pots or has become straggly in the garden.
  • Make succession sowings of salad crops–lettuces and spinach–to maintain a continuous harvest. Sow lettuce and spinach every two weeks until about eight weeks before maximum daytime temperatures are expected to average about 80°F.
  • Plant lettuce under shade cloth to slow bolting and extend your harvests into hotter weather.
Here’s how to make gardening easy this month… Get a FREE gardening checklist for May when you join my newsletter. It’s everything you need to do in May.
  • Set out Brussels sprouts starts this month for summer-to-fall harvest. Keep plants growing vigorously by keeping the soil evenly moist.
  • Sow main-crop carrots in May. Sow successive crops at three-week intervals.
  • Harden off all homegrown vegetable seedlings before transplanting, bringing them in and out for a week before planting.
  • Set out tomato, peppers, and eggplant transplants once your soil warms up. They’ll do best when the soil has warmed to 60° (F). Place support stakes or structures alongside each plant at planting time.

Related: The best seed catalogs.

  • Set out basil seedlings when the danger of frost has passed. Set seedlings 12-15 inches apart and water well in the early stages until the plants are established.
  • Begin planting sweet corn when your soil is warm enough.
  • Plant sweet potatoes. According to Our Stoney Acres, “They shouldn’t be planted in the soil until SOIL temperatures reach 70 degrees.”

Download Your Free May Garden Checklist

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Download the May gardening checklist now. You’ll be sure to get the right things done in your garden every May!

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Your Turn

What have you planted in your garden this May? Let me know in a comment below!

Cheryl Spencer, certified gardener

Hi, I’m Cheryl.
I’m a certified gardener, bird lover, and spreadsheet enthusiast. I believe you can grow your dream garden and still have time to enjoy it. I teach online gardening courses and write articles that help you save time and money in your garden. Join my mailing list, and as a bonus, you’ll get a helpful checklist that’ll tell you what to do in your garden right now.

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