Late spring gardening

Stacey King

The seedlings are popping their heads up, the sun is warming the soil and with any luck (keep those green fingers crossed) those frosty nights have long past. But for the keen gardener there is still much to be done in late spring...

Gardening gloves, plants, boots
Gardening gloves, plants, boots

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Out with the old, in with the new
Spring-flowering bulbs are most likely long past their best and now is the time to deadhead the larger plants. Do not remove the foliage - simply allow it to die back. A fertiliser boost will ensure healthy blooms for the following year.

Meanwhile the seedlings you have so lovingly nurtured will soon be ready to transplant. These tender young plants require hardening off before they are fully prepared for life outdoors so be sure to expose them gradually to the elements. Once they are ready and any spring frosts have passed, it's time to transplant them, protecting them from the wind to give them the best chance.

For seeds that have not succeeded, May is the perfect time to pay a visit to the garden centre for flats of young plants that will give your garden an instant burst of colour.

Planting and pruning
With May on the way, it's already time to get planting. Mix the soil with some of the well-rotted compost from the bottom of the pile to add nutrients, particularly where you are planting seeds and add mulch to flower beds, shrubs and trees.

Trees and shrubs will need plenty of time to bed in before summer, while spring greens and flowers such as pansies, marigolds, verbena and asters can all be direct sown. Existing fruit trees will need pruning during April while perennials such as chrysanthemums and delphinium should be divided.

As the mild May weather begins, get those dahlias in and stake now to avoid damaging the roots later. Similarly, tall blooms such as delphinium, hollyhocs, foxglove and gladioli will all benefit from stakes at this time of year to ensure they stay upright throughout the summer.

House plants will also benefit from re-potting. Remove them from their winter pots in April and check for those that are root bound. Those that are should be housed in larger pots with some fresh soil. By May most indoor plants can be re-potted and placed outdoors to soak up some of the summer sun. With partial sunlight, increased watering and a healthy dose of fertiliser they should flourish.

Lush lawns
The April showers will no doubt have given your grass a new lease of life but don't be too hasty with the lawnmower. Begin by mowing high to allow the fresh grass to become established.

Pest control
Keep a beady eye out for pests as the spring begins to warm up. Shrubs and plants are susceptible to all sorts of insects and disease at this time of year so treat them now (be eco-friendly if at all possible).

Last but not least, don't leave the weeding for another day. Get rid of as much as you can to avoid being overrun come summer.