14 May 2020

5 best plants for your garden in May

Our Director of Horticulture Richard Barley reveals the top plants for your garden in this late spring month.

By Richard Barley

Echinacae purpurea

As garden centres are reopening after a long lockdown closure, it’s the perfect time to get planting. 

So, whether you’re a green-fingered expert or gardening beginner, we’ve picked the top five plants for your May garden, and, as a bonus, the best plant for window boxes.

These stunning choices are readily available from garden centres and will turn even the smallest space into something beautiful.

1. Lavender

Lavender likes a sunny spot and free-draining soil. This pretty plant is long-flowering and a firm favourite with bees. Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ is a particularly good variety.

Lavender, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

2. Lamb’s ears

Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) is a great textural low-growing herbaceous plant for sunny sites. Tolerant of dry conditions, it is also very popular with bees when in flower. S. byzantina ‘Big Ears’ and ‘Silver Carpet’ are great cultivar choices.

Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina)
Lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) © RBG Kew

3. Salvia (sage genus)

There are around 1,000 species of Salvia, generally herbaceous plants or low shrubs. They are incredibly diverse, with colourful flowers and scented foliage. Some are culinary herbs.

Salvia, Rock Garden
Salvia, Rock Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

4. Purple coneflower

Echinacea purpurea or purple coneflower is a spectacular summer-flowering perennial, perfect for colourful borders with good rich moist soil.

A bee on Echinacea purpurea
Purple coneflower, (Echinacea purpurea) Meryl Westlake © RBG Kew

5. Agapanthus

These beautiful plants have strap-shaped leaves and blue bursts of flowers on tall stems in summer. Many varieties are available, in a range of shades from blue to white. ‘Navy Blue’ and ‘Black Pantha’ are especially striking.

Purple flowers of Agapanthus
Agapanthus © RBG Kew

For window boxes: Pelargoniums

You can’t beat some good pelargoniums. 

There are so many different varieties available, with various shades of flower colour, mostly reds, pinks and whites. 

They are very easy to grow, and will perform well in window boxes, displaying flowers right across spring and summer. 

Pink flowers of Pelargonium
Pelargonium © RBG Kew
Roses in the Rose Garden

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