May is the last month of autumn, when the weather starts cooling down. This is a time for pruning, taking cuttings for propagation, divide perennials, and t put in new trees, shrubs and vines. The soil is also still warm enough for moving and relocating plants around the garden.
It’s also the time to clean up the garden, to remove all the dead and dried leaves, branches and plants, which is a great source of organic matter for mulching and composting!
Things to Do This Month:
- Continue planting new trees, shrubs, climbers, annuals and perennials.
- Continue gathering and composting autumn leaves.
- Continue cool season green manures crops, which will be cut down and dug into the soil in spring.
- Continue collecting and sowing seeds from berry producing trees and shrubs.
- Continue lifting and dividing overgrown perennial plants.
- Continue planting garlic, strawberry runners and shallot bulbs.
- Continue pruning brambleberries after they finish fruiting – cut out the canes that fruited, and tie in the newly grown canes to the support wires on the berry trellises.
- Winter pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs can be done in autumn or winter and can begin now.
- Check citrus for galls caused by gall wasp and prune to remove.
- Cut back bamboo, and use the canes next season as plants supports and stakes in the garden.
- Repair trellises now that leaves have fallen from deciduous plants, allowing better access.
- Check tree ties, stakes and supports. Install windbreaks and tree guards around vulnerable plants.
- Relocate evergreen shrubs (can be done either in autumn and early spring).
- Lift rooted hardwood cuttings produced last autumn (the year before) and plant them out to a permanent location.
- Some perennials plants with long fleshy roots such as horseradish can be propagated by root cuttings, take root cuttings from this time in late autumn until late winter.
- Propagate blackcurrants, redcurrants whitecurrants and gooseberries from hardwood cuttings.
- Propagate vines such as grapes using hardwood cuttings or ‘eye cuttings’ with a single bud.
- Propagate rhubarb by lifting root, dividing it so each piece has one or more buds and replanting.
- Harvest and store root crops – now is the time to begin lifting parsnips from the ground, exposure to cold improves the taste.
- Ponds should be cleaned of old plants, and overgrown marginal plants around the pond can be divided.
Vegetables and Herbs to Sow:
|Sow in May||Harvest (weeks)|
d = sow directly into ground
s = sow in seed tray
ds = sow directly into ground or seed tray
Download printable PDF version of Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – May