The 10 Best Plants for May

purple Spring Bulbs

One of gardening’s biggest challenges is to create a garden that showcases interest and colour year-round. Fortunately, during May, you’re spoiled for choice, with an array of plants boasting vibrant colours and intriguing forms.

Here are ten of the best plants for May, which can help to add a delightful chapter to your year-round garden.

Top Tip: Remember to water new plants regularly until they’re well-established, and continue watering all plants during dry spells.

You might also be interested in: Flowering Plants For Every Month

1. Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)

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The Bearded Iris, with its majestic, flamboyant blooms and strappy leaves, adds an exotic touch to the May garden. These stunning flowers prefer a sunny spot with well-drained soil. It’s important to partially expose the rhizomes to the sun to ensure a good flower display.

2. Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea)

Best plants for May - foxglove

Foxgloves, with their tall spikes of bell-shaped flowers, bring height and drama to the borders and are beloved by bees. These plants prefer partial shade and thrive in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Keep an eye out for self-seeding if you prefer to control their spread.

3. Alliums (Allium)

Alliums offer a stunning display of spherical, purple blooms that seem to float above the foliage. These plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. For a spectacular spring show, plant the bulbs deeply in autumn.

4. Peonies (Paeonia)

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Peonies offer an impressive display of large, often fragrant blooms in various shades, ranging from white to deep red. These flowers thrive in a sunny or lightly shaded spot with fertile, well-drained soil. While they are long-lived, peonies dislike being disturbed, so it’s essential to choose their position carefully.

5. Rhododendrons (Rhododendron)

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Rhododendrons are large evergreen shrubs that add a splash of colour with their vibrant, often large flowers. These plants prefer acidic soil and thrive in a partially shaded spot. It’s important to keep the soil moist, especially during dry periods, to ensure their optimal growth and flowering.

6. Wisteria

wisteria plants for pergolas

Wisteria is a stunning climber that adorns walls and pergolas with cascading clusters of fragrant, lilac or bluish flowers. These plants thrive in full sun or partial shade, preferring fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Regular pruning is essential to control growth and encourage flowering.

7. Aquilegia (Aquilegia)

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Aquilegia, also known as Granny’s Bonnet, features intricate, bonnet-like flowers that gracefully dance on long stems above ferny foliage. These plants thrive in both sun and partial shade, preferring moist, well-drained soil. Aquilegia freely self-seeds, allowing it to spread across the garden with ease.

8. Euphorbia (Euphorbia)

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Euphorbia, with its captivating architectural form and vibrant chartreuse flowers, adds a unique touch to the garden. These plants prefer a sunny spot in well-drained soil. However, it’s essential to be cautious of the milky sap, which can cause skin irritation.

9. Stocks (Matthiola incana)

Stocks are beloved for their clusters of fragrant, double flowers available in shades of white, pink, red, or lilac. These plants thrive in full sun and prefer fertile, well-drained soil. Regular deadheading will help to encourage more blooms, ensuring a continuous display of their delightful fragrance and colours.

10. Meconopsis (Meconopsis)

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Meconopsis, also known as Himalayan poppies, present large, silky, sky-blue flowers that create a spectacular display in the garden. These plants prefer a sheltered spot in partial shade with moist, acidic, well-drained soil. While they can be a bit tricky to establish, the breath-taking blooms they produce are well worth the effort!

Final thoughts

Crafting a garden that maintains interest and colour year-round is both rewarding and challenging. Evergreen plants play a crucial role in achieving this goal, providing structure, colour, and interest even during the winter months, thus becoming the backbone of your garden.

As you incorporate the May bloomers we’ve discussed into your garden, don’t forget to also consider the steadfast evergreens. By including both flowering plants and evergreens, you’ll create a garden that delights and captivates throughout the year.

FAQs – Best Plants for May

Q: What wildflowers are out in May in the UK?

May is a great time for wildflowers in the UK. During this month, you might spot Bluebells, Red Campion, Wild Garlic, Yellow Rattle, and Cow Parsley.

Q: What are the birth flowers for May in the UK?

The birth flowers for May are Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn. Lily of the Valley symbolises sweetness and humility, while Hawthorn represents hope and supreme happiness.

Q: What shrubs flower in early May?

Many shrubs bloom in early May. These include Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Weigela, and Spirea.

Q: Can I still plant in May?

Yes, May is a great time to plant many summer-flowering plants and vegetables. The soil has warmed up, and the risk of frost has generally passed.

Q: What should I do in the garden in May?

May is a busy time in the garden. Tasks include planting out summer bedding, tending to lawns, staking tall or floppy plants, watering newly planted specimens, and keeping on top of weeding.


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