What to plant in May – the flowers, fruit and vegetables experts recommend sowing this month

Your May planting guide

A blooming garden with a garden furniture and parasol set
(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

May is upon us – as in, yes, the very same month described by poet Felicia Hemans as the 'fairy queen, adorn'd with flowers – which means it's all change to our gardening schedules once again.

The big question, of course, is this: what to plant in May? From flowers to fruits to vegetables, now is the perfect time to start a small vegetable garden or make good on all of your favourite flower bed ideas.

'May marks the transition into warmer weather in many regions, making it an ideal time to sow a variety of vegetable and edible flower seeds in your garden,' promise heirloom veg growing experts Lucy Hutchings and Kate Cotterill of SheGrowsVeg.

SheGrowsVeg founders
Lucy Hutchings and Kate Cotterill

Former jewellery designer to the stars turned social media veg grower, Lucy Hutchings launched SheGrowsVeg alongside top marketeer and music festival organiser, Kate Cotterill. They are passionate about gardening, and ensure that their range is entirely open pollinated seed from heirloom or rare origins, meaning they are packed full of nutrients, are outstanding in the looks department and taste phenomenal.

What to plant in May

As mentioned already, May is the ideal time to learn how to grow your own fruit and vegetables – and there are plenty of flowers worth investing some time in, too, including cannas and dahlias.

Wooden potting bench

(Image credit: Future PLC)

It's also the time to look forward to next year, too, as the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says that you should sow spring bedding plants, such as wallflowers and pansies, between 'now and July in order to flower next spring, as they are biennials'.

What else, though, should we plant in May? Here are our expert recommendations...

Best fruit and vegetables to sow in May

Whether you're a pro at edimentals or looking for the easiest vegetables to grow, now is well and truly the time to jump aboard the Grow Your Own bandwagon.

'For those gardeners wanting to begin their journey in growing food, May is the perfect time to begin,' says David Denyer, expert florist at Eflorist.

One of the vegetable plots at RHS Chelsea 2023

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

'Warm seasoned vegetables such as tomatoes and courgettes are perfect to sow this month, with soil at the optimal temperature and the weather gradually warming up,' he adds.

'And herbs, such as basil, chives, and parsley, can be sown directly outdoors in May, too, so don't neglect all of those herb garden ideas you've been considering.'

1. Cucumbers

male and female cucumber plant with flowers

(Image credit: cucumber Bushcamp/ Suttons)

If you love the idea of learning how to grow cucumbers, now is the time to get started!

'Cucumber seeds can be sown directly into the garden in May, providing they have access to plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil,' say Lucy and Kate. 

'Consider trellising or vertical gardening techniques to maximise space and airflow, and keep the soil consistently moist to encourage vigorous growth and prevent bitterness in the fruit.'

Where to buy cucumber seeds:

  • Thompson & Morgan: an abundance of cucumber seeds to choose from.
  • Crocus: there's plenty of choice when it comes to cucumber seeds, but try something like the Cucumber 'Burpless Tasty Green' F1 for a seriously easy introduction to this summer favourite.
  • SheGrowsVeg: test your gardening skills with an heirloom variety, such as the Cucumber White Wonder.

2. Tomatoes

tomatoes in pots in greenhouse on white shelving in greenhouse

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp/Future PLC)

If you haven't taken the time to master your tomato growing technique yet, don't despair: these tasty little fruits are on our list of what to plant in May.

'You’ve still got time to get tomato plants in during May once the risk of frost has passed,' say Lucy and Kate reassuringly. 

'Choose something different this season and take your pick from the vast array of beautiful heirloom tomato seeds available on SheGrowsVeg. Ensure they receive full sun and well-draining soil, and provide support for the plants as they grow.'

Where to buy tomato seeds:

3. Courgettes

Basket of fresh picked courgette from the garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you plan on planting them in a raised garden bed, or you fancy learning how to grow courgettes in pots, it's a good idea to get started on your courgette crop this month.

'Sow courgette seeds indoors if you have the space, like a greenhouse or a sunny windowsill,' says David. 

'This gives them a head start and protects them from any unexpected late frosts. Once the seedlings are nice and strong, typically around June, you can harden them off (gradually acclimate them to outdoor conditions) and then transplant them outside into your garden beds.'

He adds that you must 'make sure all danger of frost has completely passed before planting them out permanently'. 

Where to buy courgette seeds:

4. Beans

Broad beans

(Image credit: Getty Images/ZAKmac)

May is well and truly the season of the bean, for anyone who fancies growing theirs from scratch.

'Both bush beans and pole beans can be sown directly in the garden in May, offering a reliable source of fresh, tender pods for culinary delights,' say Lucy and Kate. 

'Choose from green beans, snap beans, or runner beans, and plant them in well-drained soil with full sun exposure. Consider succession planting for a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.;

Where to buy bean seeds:

5. Melons

Watermelon growing in a vegetable garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not sure what to plant in May? Well, the RHS says that, based on previous hot dry summers, now is the time to consider climate change fruits such as melons, watermelons, and cucamelons.

'Of course, climate change is highly unpredictable and can also be damaging, so following this trend should be treated cautiously,' they add.

Thankfully, Lucy and Kate say that melons are 'easier to grow than some people think, especially if you can find a spot in a polytunnel or greenhouse where the heat will really help them thrive'. 

Where to buy melon seeds:

  • Crocus: why not try the Cucamelon on for size?
  • Thompson & Morgan: so many melon seeds to choose from.
  • SheGrowsVeg: a firm favourite with Lucy and Kate, they say that Rich Sweetness Melon 'is a tiny variety that’s perfect for one portion, covered in stunning tiger stripes'.

6. Pumpkins

A pair of Wellington boots next to a basket of pumpkins with fallen leaves on the ground

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Halloween may feel a long way off, but you'd best believe that pumpkins belong on our list of what to grow in May.

'With an array of beautiful looking pumpkin varieties out there, you’ll be spoilt for choice,' say Lucy and Kate. 

'So easy to sow, with direct in the soil or started indoors, this fast growing plant can be selected with a more compact growth habit so it doesn’t take over or if you have loads of space you can choose just for good looks to ensure you enjoy beautiful soups, roasted pumpkin and decorative pumpkins in the autumn.'

Where to buy pumpkin seeds:

7. Salad leaves

A close-up shot of salad vegetables growing in a bed

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Come summertime, we'll be keen to serve up fresh salads aplenty – which is why we're so pleased that these tasty leaves are ideal for sowing and growing in May.

'Now is a great time to sow a first or second crop of salad leaves,' say Kate and Lucy, who like to choose an array of colours for a beautiful mix in the salad bowl.  

'Check out speckled trout, copacabana, arcade, sioux and outredgeous for a great selection.  We like to sow these as cut and come again varieties which means you can just sow them and don’t need to thin them out.  Just cut or pick the outer leaves and they’ll keep growing back.'

Where to buy salad leaves:

Crocus: a wide range of salad leaf seeds.

Thompson & Morgan: lots of mixed and single type seeds.

Sarah Raven: choose from lettuce and salad leaf seeds, depending on your preference.

Of course, if you fancy something a little different, Kate and Lucy say that parsnips (oh yes, that oh-so-Christmassy of vegetables) are also a possibility for planting in May.

'Many people think that parsnips are best sown really early in the season, however, they actually perform best when sown into warmer soil,' they explain. 

' Sowing in May can mean better germination rates and faster, healthier growth.  Easy to sow direct in the soil, sow now to enjoy with your Christmas dinner!'

Best flowers to grow in May

From cottage gardens to modern gardens, there are plenty of beautiful blooms to pay attention to at this time of year.

'May is a fantastic time to plant stunning perennial flowers and plants that will grace your garden year after year,' promises David. 

'Daylilies, peonies, and irises are all great options to add a touch of long-lasting colour. To help them flourish, make sure to keep them well-watered, especially during dry spells. Additionally, monitor the quality of your soil and amend it if necessary to provide the best growing environment.'

As well as all of these, it's also worth considering the following...

1. Clematis

Clematis growing in an English garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking for something wonderful to grow this May? 'Clematis are a perfect flower to plant in late spring,' promises David. 

'Depending on the variety, it is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and blooms reliably each year, adding elegance to your garden,' he says. 

'Clematis can fit into many gardens, for smaller varieties, a trellis is a perfect climbing companion. Other varieties such as Clematis montana or Clematis jackmanii can be planted next to walls or sheds and they'll happily cover the whole thing! Some Clematis thrive when weaving through trees or trained to sprawl beautifully as ground cover.'

Where to buy clematis seeds:

2. Sunflowers

A sunflower plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/Charlotte Coward-Williams)

If you were worried that you'd missed your window for planting sunflowers (a lot of people start theirs off in April), don't be: you can just as easily get growing these summery flowers in May.

'Sunflowers are our favourite flower to grow, not least of all because they're so useful,' say Lucy and Kate.  

'Select a multi stem variety for cut flowers or a giant for a multitude of seeds that.  Whichever type you’re growing, save all the seeds at the end of the season and use them to enjoy delicious micro greens all through the winter.'

Where to buy sunflower seeds:

3. Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums in an English garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you aren't sure which flowers to plant in May, why not give nasturtiums a go?

'Nasturtium seeds can be sown directly in the garden in May, producing vibrant flowers with a peppery flavour that adds a pop of colour and zing to salads, soups, and garnishes,' promise Lucy and Kate. 

'Plant them in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade and enjoy their edible blooms throughout the summer.'

Where to buy nasturtium seeds:


What can I plant in my garden in May?

As mentioned already, there are so many wonderful things to plant in May, from sunflowers and nasturtiums to melons and pumpkins. 

Wisteria, rhododendrons and azaleas, too, are well worth considering if you fancy a bigger investment piece in your garden.

What veg is best to plant in May?

Salad leaves and cucumbers are ideal for this time of year, but it's also worth considering planting something like peas and runner beans in May.

Is it good to plant in May?

May is a great time of year to get to work on your garden, as it's usually when the soil begins to warm up (and the weather take a turn for the better). Still, it can be cold – and late frosts may still pose a risk – so it's a good idea to plant tender seeds undercover if you can.

Now that you know what to plant in May, it's time to decide which of these wonderful fruits, flowers, and vegetables you'll be gracing your garden with this summer.

We'll race you to that last packet of pumpkin seeds...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.