Spring Planting Guide: What to Plant in May

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By Jess
21 May 2024

It’s that time of year when the excitement of gardening comes roaring back. Planting season is upon us, and in New England, the soil (and weather) is finally warming up, giving us the opportunity to put plants in the ground. I noticed soil and compost were out at the Farmer’s Market this week and gardening season is upon us. We have lots of grand plans for our garden this year, including raised beds, perennial gardens, raspberry bushes, strawberries, and more. If you’re trying to figure out what to plant in May, here’s a guide with some of my favorite flowers and plants, including tips from an expert gardener.

Spring Planting Guide: What to Plant in May
image by shore creative

What to Plant in May

I asked my friends Kim and Chris of Greenlion for their advice and expertise on what to plant this time of year. They gave a very comprehensive list along with some ideas for companion planting (shown in the image above). If you’re in Rhode Island, they offer garden consults to offer guidance for gardening, small space garden design and container garden installation. They are very talented so if you are looking for someone to help you with your garden, definitely get in touch with Kim and Chris.

Some of this planting list is a bit location/climate specific (Northeast) but if you check out the plant hardiness zone map and your corresponding zone you can get a better idea of what works where you live. If you’re in a warmer climate you can certainly start planting in early spring.

I added some of my favorites to the list from Kim & Chris including what we plant in our own garden. Make sure to pay attention to the risk of frost where you live. Sometimes here in New England we get a freeze in mid May so we always wait until frost has passed to put plants in the ground (usually right around Memorial Day weekend to play it safe). RI is warmer than Vermont in that respect and there have been times when there’s been a freeze in late May and even early June.

A few tips for planting in may
  • In May, tropicals and annuals need to wait until after risk of frost and evening temps are not dipping too low, its rare we get a frost in May but usually by mid-May we are safe as temps start to even out.
  • Make sure you find out if plants have been “hardened off” that you are purchasing.
  • Some additional companion planting ideas:
    • Roses – good companions or flower friends that help to hide their bare legs as they grow up include Nepeta, Alchemilla (lady’s mantle) and Lavender
    • Bee Balm looks great with Columbine
    • Tulips and Daffodils work great with Hostas and Iris
    • Coneflower and Yarrow are a magic pair

You might also like:my favorite gardening tools and accessories here and my guide to composting at home.


What to Plant in May

Flowers

Herbs  

Shrubs

  • Mock Orange (amazing fragrance) 
  • Hydrangeas
  • Roses
  • Boxwood
  • Azaleas 
  • Blueberries – don’t want to net them? Let the birds enjoy them and encourage a living landscape that supports wildlife. 
  • Raspberries

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Tomatoes – easy to grow
  • Cucumbers – they can take up a lot of room in your garden so be careful with where you plant.
  • Summer Squash – easy to grow
  • Peppers (shishitos are my favorite)
  • French Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Kale – easy to grow (I found some that survived winter the last time I was in RI!)
  • Peas
  • Strawberries – our patch gets bigger every year and fresh strawberries are so good.

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5 Comments

  1. Rach wrote:

    Just like everyone else, I’ve been gardening! And omg this post is so helpful. I’m about to go out and buy more plants and flowers this weekend!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    5.22.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Ohhh sounds fun! Enjoy it. xx

      5.23.20 | Reply
  2. Lynn wrote:

    Gosh I miss New England so much. Hydrangeas do not grow here and they are my favorites . We had such a beautiful garden in Vermont and yes snow in May . “Poor man’s fertilizer “the locals called it .

    4.26.22 | Reply
  3. Grow Soulfully wrote:

    Wonderful guide for spring planting! The companion planting tips are especially helpful, and I can’t wait to try some of these combinations in my garden. The illustrations are beautiful and make the information even more enjoyable to read. Thanks for sharing!

    5.31.24 | Reply
  4. Subway Surfers wrote:

    Beautiful design! Worth learning and participating!

    6.13.24 | Reply

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