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What to sow and grow in May

Poppy 'Cherry Glow' by Thompson & Morgan - available now
Sow poppies to attract pollinators
Image: Poppy 'Cherry Glow' by Thompson & Morgan

May is here at last. The weather is warmer and sunnier, the days are getting longer and summer is definitely on its way.

There’s plenty to sow and grow this month - and here are our top picks to keep you busy in the garden:

Flowers to sow and grow

Larkspur ‘The Seven Dwarves' by Thompson & Morgan - available now
If want a dazzling display this year, start larkspur off in pots.
Image: Larkspur 'The Seven Dwarves' by Thompson & Morgan

Here are the flowers to sow and grow this May:

In the greenhouse / indoors

  • Start larkspur off in pots. This annual has similar flowers to delphinium, but is much easier to grow.

  • Sow helipterum indoors - they make excellent dried flowers.

  • Start salvia off indoors this month to brighten up your summer bedding.

  • Start to sow foxgloves, sweet William and wallflowers in seed trays, for flowering next year.

  • Sow perennials, like delphiniums, lupins, aquilegia and primula, in seed trays for flowering next year and in the years to come.

  • Plant up pots and baskets of summer bedding and harden off before placing in position. In cold areas wait until June to do this.

Direct sow outdoors

  • Direct sow sunflowers now.

  • Grow nasturtiums either in pots or directly outdoors in your borders and containers.

  • Direct sow poppies, cornflowers and scabious to attract bees and butterflies into your garden. For more ideas on how to attract wildlife into your garden, click here.

  • Try direct sowing godetias (clarkia) for easy colour in your flower beds this summer.

  • Direct sow candytuft around the edge of your beds to add a touch of pink.

  • Direct sow limnanthes to bring beneficial insects into your garden and vegetable plot.

  • Try sowing linaria to fill beds and borders with vibrant colour.

  • Direct sow nigella - they have most unusual shaped flowers and very attractive seed pods too.

Herbs & Vegetables to sow and grow

woman hand sowing cucumber seeds in module trays
Start cucumbers off in module trays this May
Image: Tortoon

Here’s what to sow and grow in the vegetable garden this month:

In the greenhouse / indoors

  • Start off sweetcorn in modules ready for planting out once all risk of frost has passed. Grow at least 12 plants for good pollination and cropping.

  • Sow basil in pots for the greenhouse or patio - this Mediterranean staple thrives in warm conditions.

  • Sow courgette, marrow, squash, and pumpkin seeds under cover now.

  • Try sowing lettuce in module trays under glass for transplanting into the garden later. Sow every 3 or 4 weeks for continuous harvesting.

  • Sow cucumber and gherkin seeds in individual pots or modules.

  • Sow runner beans and french beans under cover, sowing individually into module trays for planting out after the risk of frost has passed.

  • Start kale seeds under cover now - yes, it really is time to think ahead to winter cropping!

  • Sow perennial herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, lovage and lemon balm under cover.

  • Plant glasshouse tomatoes in beds or growing bags.

Direct sow outdoors

  • Direct sow borage and use the flowers for garnishing salads and desserts.

  • Try growing comfrey in a neglected corner of the garden - it can be used to make fertiliser or for mulching, and is a rich source of nutrients. Direct sow or sow into seed trays indoors.

  • Sow beetroot seeds thinly, directly into the ground.

  • Sow broccoli and calabrese in a nursery bed for transplanting later on, or sow directly in your vegetable plot.

  • Direct sow cabbages. Net them early on to prevent cabbage-white butterflies laying their eggs on the leaves.

  • Sow Brussels sprouts outdoors now.

  • Direct sow carrots in rows and protect with fleece or enviromesh to prevent carrot-fly attack.

  • Sow chicory directly into the soil now.

  • Sow herbs such as chives, coriander, dill and parsley directly into the ground or in containers.

  • Try growing hardy corn salad (Lamb's Lettuce) outdoors, for summer and winter salads.

  • Direct sow kohl rabi - it will be ready in as little as 8 weeks.

  • Sow peas directly into the ground, or start them off in modules if mice are a problem.

  • Try direct sowing nutritious pak choi every 3 weeks for a continuous crop.

  • Direct sow your parsnip seeds now. Sow 3 or 4 seeds every 20 cm and thin to the strongest plant.

  • Sow radish seeds directly into the soil for quick and easy home-grown salad.

  • Sow salad leaves directly into the ground or in containers.

  • Start cauliflower seeds under cover.

  • Sow spinach seeds in soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Try growing spinach 'Perpetual' if you have very dry soil.

  • Sow spring onion seeds in drills outdoors for a quick crop to flavour salads and stir fries.

  • Try Swiss chard sown outdoors for a colourful crop - it even looks great in flower beds!

  • Sow swede seeds outdoors in a rich, fertile soil for autumn and winter crops.

  • Start to sow turnips now for a great addition to casseroles and stews.

  • Grow your own watercress in containers, making sure the container is sitting in 2-3 inches of water at all times.

Plant outdoors

image of young leeks getting planted in their final positions
It's time to plant leeks out to their final position.
Image: Shutterstock

Fruit to sow and grow

Try growing these fruits this month:

In the greenhouse / indoors

  • Sow melons in individual modules now - for the best crops, try growing a variety suited to the British climate, such as 'Orange Sherbert '.

Keep one step ahead - what to order this month:

RedEye