What to Plant in May: Best Vegetables + Flowers to Grow Now

INSIDE: Read this before planting in May. Discover what to plant in May—what vegetables to plant + the best flowers to plant. Bonus: snag a FREE May planting guide.


With the spring season at its peak, it’s time to get serious about planting and get ready for a productive summer.

This is the month when heat-loving veggies like tomatoes and peppers can go into the ground unprotected (for most of us).

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.

Heads up: If you buy something after clicking a link in this post, I’ll earn a small commission. I only link to products I’d recommend to my best friend.

woman planting roses in a may garden
May is the perfect time to get your hands dirty and plant some delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers.

Fruits and vegetables to plant in May

Planting fruits and vegetables this month comes with plenty of benefits; you’ll enjoy locally-grown produce from your own backyard that costs less and tastes better than what you’ll find in the stores.

So grab your favorite trowel, and let’s get planting!

The best vegetables to plant in May

  • Harden off all homegrown vegetable seedlings before transplanting, bringing them in and out for a week before planting.
  • Make new sowings of warm-season veggies after harvesting early, cool-weather crops once your soil has warmed to 50 degrees F. Examples include:
    • Beans
    • Cucumber
    • Melon
    • Pumpkins
    • Squash
    • Zucchini
  • Make succession sowings of salad crops–lettuce, green onions, radishes, 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.
    • Learn more about succession planting vegetables.
  • Plant lettuce under shade cloth to slow bolting and extend your harvests into hotter weather.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Set out tomato, peppers, and eggplant transplants once your soil warms up.
    • They’ll do best when the soil has warmed to 55° (F).
    • Place support stakes or structures alongside each plant at planting time.
  • Begin planting sweet corn when your soil is warm enough.
  • Plant sweet potatoes once your soil temperature reaches 70 degrees.

Here’s how to make planting in May easy… Get a FREE gardening checklist for May when you join my newsletter. It’s everything you need to do in May.

Herbs to plant in May

May is a great month to add some fragrant flavorings to your kitchen garden.

Let’s explore some delicious herb choices that’ll have you itching for summertime dishes in no time!

herb seedlings in pots on a table in a garden in may
If you’re looking to get an early start on your summer herb harvest, May is the perfect month to begin.
  1. Direct-sow herbs such as dill, cilantro, chervil, fennel, and parsley.
  2. Take cuttings, 3 to 4 inches long, of marjoram, rosemary, sage, and thyme from last year’s growth to propagate new plants.
  3. Divide and replant mint and thyme that has overgrown pots or has become straggly in the garden.
  4. 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.

Related: The best seed catalogs.

Fruit to plant in May

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries

The best flowers to plant in May

Are you ready to create some beauty in your garden this May? If so, you’ll definitely want to include flowers for a vibrant pop of color.

Whether you’re looking for cheerful perennials or sunshine-loving annuals, keep reading to find some excellent flower choices that work well this time of year.

pink peonies growing in a perennial garden in May
Brighten up your outdoor space with some colorful perennial flowers like these Peonies.

Perennial flowers to plant in May

Until you’ve had your last frost, plant only frost-tolerant perennials (or be prepared to protect tender perennials from frost).

Popular flowering perennials to plant in May include:

  • Roses
  • Lavender
  • Nepeta
  • Heuchera
  • Clematis
  • Peonies

Divide and replant:

  • Mums and other late bloomers.
  • Early spring perennials, when they finish flowering.

My favorite tools for planting perennial flowers

Prices last updated on 2024-05-17 at 06:11

Bulbs to plant in May

If you didn’t plant summer bulbs last month, now is the time to plant them. Plant these summer bloomers after all danger of frost has passed:

  • lilies
  • freesia
  • gladiolus
  • calla lilies
  • crocosmias

These summer-blooming bulbs and tubers need to be dug up and stored indoors over winter.

Move or divide spring flowering bulbs after the foliage dies.

Related: Download a FREE yard work list.

Annual flowers to plant in May

Plant tender, warm-season annuals once the danger of frost has passed in your area.

annual plants growing in containers in May
Tired of the same old plants in your garden? Mix it up with some colorful annual flowers.

Popular annual flowers to plant in May include:

  1. Ageratum
  2. Amaranth
  3. Begonia
  4. Celosia
  5. Chrysanthemum
  6. Coleus
  7. Geranium
  8. Impatiens
  9. Marigold
  10. Nicotiana
  11. Verbena
  12. Zinnia
  13. Related: June planting guide.

Grow annual vines to provide interest in small, vertical spaces. They can disguise boring or ugly walls and fences. Here are a few to try:

  • morning glory
  • nasturtium vine
  • scarlet runner bean

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!

Perennials and shrubs to plant in May

May is the perfect month to round out your perennial beds with new plants and shrubs. Here’s what to plant:

  1. Ornamental grasses such as:
    • Feather Reed Grass
    • Fountain Grass
    • Little Bluestem
  2. Plant ground covers under shade trees that do not allow enough sunlight to grow grass. Vinca minor and English ivy are ground covers that grow well in the shade.
  3. Plant shrubs in May, such as:
    • Azaleas
    • Boxwood
    • Hydrangeas
    • Mock Orange

FAQs about what to plant in May

Is May too late to plant a garden?

No, May isn’t too late to plant a garden. April and May are ideal months to get your vegetable-growing adventure underway. So don’t worry; even though it’s already May – there’s still plenty of opportunity to have a successful growing season ahead!

Is May too late to plant tomatoes?

No, May isn’t too late to plant tomatoes. You can plant tomato transplants anytime after your last frost. Just keep in mind the days to maturity and how many growing days you have left in your season when choosing your tomato varieties. They need enough time to mature before your first frost in the fall.

Is mid May too early to plant bedding plants?

Mid-May could be too early to plant bedding plants. It depends on your average last frost date. Cold-hardy bedding plants can be planted anytime in May, but wait until after your last frost to plant tender, frost-sensitive plants.

Is May too late to plant bulbs?

No, May isn’t too late to plant summer-blooming bulbs. See the list of summer-blooming tubers and bulbs you can plant in May.

Download your free garden calendar & checklist

You’ll always know what to plant in May!

Join my weekly-ish newsletter; as a bonus, you’ll get the printable checklist! Click here to download and subscribe.

Here’s a sneak peek of your checklist:

monthly garden checklist

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

Your turn: what do you plant in May?

What have you planted in your garden this May?

Let me know in a comment below!

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