Change your bedding!
Spring bedding plants will soon be over whilst others are just gearing up for their summer display now. A wide variety of summer bedding plants are now available to buy from nurseries and garden centres. However, if late frosts are forecast those tempting tender geraniums and other non-hardy annuals are best left to plant out until about the middle of the month.
Prune spring-flowering shrubs once they have finished flowering
Examples are things like Kerria Japonica, Forsythia, and Spirea. Also, if you have one, prune the glorious Clematis Montana after it has flowered. This beauty is a very fast growing climber that can easily get out of hand unless pruned hard every year. It’s a good choice of plant if you have an ugly wall or fence that you want to cover quickly.
Take softwood cuttings from shrubs
Most of the shrubs in a garden will now be producing plenty of young, fresh shoots, which are ideal for making new plants for free. Take a few shoots about 10cm long from a part of the shrub where it won’t show, cutting just above a bud or leaf. Trim just below a leaf joint with a sharp knife, dip the cut end into a hormone rooting solution and pot up 6-7 cuttings in a pot of free-draining compost. Pop a plastic bag secured with a plastic band over the top to keep them moist and leave in a shady spot. In eight weeks they should be ready to pot up and grow on.
Plant up containers
Containers can now be planted up with summer bedding plants from about the middle of the month but keep an eye on the weather forecast in case a late frost is predicted. It’s worth removing the old compost if it has been in your container since last year. The new compost will give your plants a better start. We use John Innes potting compost because it retains water better. We would also add water-retaining granules and slow release fertilizer to keep the container fed all summer. Remember, containers dry out very quickly so if you’re planning to keep a dazzling display going for the whole summer – keep watering.
Grow your own
Sow and plant out tender vegetables at the end of the month and protect crops from carrot fly before continuing successional sowing of vegetables.
Start pruning trained plums and cherries, particularly if you are growing them against a wall or fence as espaliers or fan-trained trees.
Ventilate your greenhouse and think about permanent shading for summer. There is a paint available for this which is easy to apply and effective.
Finish planting new shrubs if you possibly can before it gets too dry.