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What to plant in May for summer blooms

Gardening tools to plant outdoors
Gardening tools to plant outdoors (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Now that spring is here, May is the perfect time to get planting. Whether it's sowing directly outdoors or in large containers, knowing what to plant in May should give you a bumper harvest for the summer.

Typically, May is the month when all risk of frost has passed in most regions, and the soil is warmer. That makes for the ideal conditions to sow vegetables and flower seeds directly into the soil. In addition, earlier seedlings in pots are now ready to be transplanted outdoors. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have sufficient outdoor space as plenty of seeds can be sown indoors. Plus, they are less likely to be attacked by slugs, snails or any other outdoor predators. You can also opt for pot-grown fruit trees and shrubs from your local garden centre, which can be planted or re-potted anytime. 

So from bold flowers to tasty fruit and vegetables, here’s what to plant in May to brighten up your garden.

If you're fond of plants, here's how to how to identify plants on your iPhone with this hidden feature.

If you prefer homegrown food but don’t know where to start, check out the 9 easiest vegetables to grow for beginners.or how to plant potatoes and when to do it. For an indoor project, check out how to grow an avocado tree from a seed.  

Sunflowers 

A few sunflowers

A few sunflowers (Image credit: Shutterstock)

These sun-loving flowers will certainly brighten up any summer garden, not to mention offer a great pollen source for bees and butterflies. Sunflowers are the easiest plant to grow, and most will germinate once the soil reaches temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can sow the seeds in pots first or directly into the garden, but if you want more tips, check out our guide on how to plant sunflower seeds. 

Cosmos

Pink cosmos flower

Pink cosmos flower (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another sun-loving plant is the cosmos, ranging in color from white, pink, red and orange. These are simple, open flowers that also look great in vases, planters and containers. For best results, grow cosmos in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny location. Deadhead to encourage new blooms, and you can also save seeds from spent blooms to sow the next season.

Marigolds 

Orange marigolds

Orange marigolds (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With their vibrant orange and yellow tones, marigolds will add bursts of color to any garden. Marigolds can be sown directly into the ground where they are going to flower, or you can plant in pots. If you do this, it’s best to sow about two months before May. Typically, seeds will germinate anywhere from four to 14 days in warm soil. Best of all, marigold leaves are edible and can make a great addition to those summer salads.   

Lavender 

Lavender plant

Lavender plant (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Lavender is well-known for its vibrant color, relaxing aroma and essential oils. These fast-growing flowers thrive in full sunlight and in well-drained soil. Newly-planted lavender would need regular watering during its first summer, and generally won’t need feeding. Be sure to prune dead flowers and stems often, so they will flourish all season. 

Zinnia 

Pink zinnia flowers

Pink zinnia flowers (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Zinnias are colorful flowers, known for their vibrant colors and different varieties. Similar to the sunflower, they can also grow tall, like the giant zinnias that can reach heights up to 4 feet. Zinnia flowers can easily be sown outside in May, providing they are planted in a weed-free, fertile soil and kept well-watered. Once they’re in bloom by the summer, you’ll have a vibrant display in your summer garden. 

Strawberries

Strawberries in basket

Strawberries in basket (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Juicy strawberries are a summer favorite, and May is your last chance to plant strawberry runners. For best results, grow in a sheltered spot that gets plenty of sun in the day. Water well, and feed regularly with a high potash feed (potassium) from early spring onwards. Once the fruits are red all over, it’s time to harvest. Best of all, strawberries grow very well in pots, window boxes, hanging baskets, and strawberry planters.

Salad leaves 

Fresh lettuce leaves in bowl

Fresh lettuce leaves in bowl (Image credit: Shutterstock)

There’s nothing like a refreshing summer salad, and growing lettuce only takes 30 days to harvest. Simply plant lettuce seeds directly into your containers or seed trays, add fresh compost and water well. The good thing is, you don’t have to wait for lettuce leaves to fully mature, as you can pick off leaves as they grow. So you’ll have a constant supply of leaves all season. 

Tomatoes 

Tomato plants

Tomato plants (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, juicy tomatoes are great to sow in May, and can grow in abundance. Once you have your seedlings, plant them in well-drained soil in a sunny location. You can easily learn how to grow tomatoes from seeds, or how to grow tomatoes in pots in a few simple steps. These will make a tasty addition to your salads and dishes. 

Sweetcorn 

Sweetcorn cob

Sweetcorn cob (Image credit: Shutterstock)

May is the last month to sow sweetcorn, to give the vegetable enough time to grow and ripen for summer. For best results, sow in a seed tray or pots indoors. Once the seedlings are large to handle, you can plant outside and ensure they’re watered well. Sweetcorn needs warm conditions to grow around 60°F, or 65°F for sweet varieties. 

Kale

Kale growing in pots

Kale growing in pots (Image credit: Shutterstock)

A great addition to healthy smoothies, kale is best grown in May. For top results, kale thrives in well-lit areas and requires a rich soil, high in organic matter. Kale also needs frequent watering with good drainage to stop the roots from becoming soggy. If you fancy making nutritious, kale smoothies, you might need to check out one of the best blenders for delicious drinks.


If you're also interested in indoor plants, check out our guides on how to care for succulents and how to repot succulents. We also cover how to care for air plants.

If you have favorite plants that are wilting, check out our top tips on how to save a dying plant. Also, be sure to check these 5 plants that can help you sleep better, while you learn how to clean every room of your home for spring-cleaning tips.   

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 


Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.


With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!