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  3. A Guide to May Flowering Plants in the UK

A Guide to May Flowering Plants in the UK

As April showers give way to May flowers, gardens across the UK burst into vibrant displays of colour and fragrance. May is a delightful month for gardeners, as the warmer weather and longer days coax many flowering plants into bloom. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, there’s something special about watching flowers bloom in spring. This guide will explore some of the most captivating flowering plants that grace British gardens in May.

May Flowering Plants in UK Garden

Rhododendrons and Azaleas:

May is the peak blooming season for rhododendrons and azaleas, adding a burst of colour to gardens nationwide. These evergreen shrubs boast stunning clusters of flowers in hues ranging from delicate pastels to vibrant shades of red, pink, white and purple flowers. With their striking blooms and lush foliage, rhododendrons and azaleas make excellent focal points or hedging plants in gardens. They prefer acidic soil and partial shade, making them well-suited to many areas of the UK. Read our care guide for Rhododendrons & Azaleas here.

Pink Rhododendron Flowering in May

Peonies (Paeonia):

May marks the beginning of peony season, much to the delight of gardeners everywhere. These sumptuous perennials produce large, showy blooms in shades of pink, red, white, and even yellow. Known for their intoxicating fragrance and lush, romantic appearance, peonies are a favourite for bouquets and flower arrangements. They thrive in fertile, well-drained soil and prefer a sunny spot in the garden. Read our Peony care guide here.

Pink Peony In Garden, Flowering in May

Tulips (Tulipa):

Although tulips often begin blooming in April, many varieties continue to flower well into May, extending the spring displays. These iconic bulbs come in various colours, shapes, and sizes, from traditional single-flowered types to exotic parrot tulips and fringed varieties. Tulips are versatile plants that can be grown in borders, containers, or even naturalised in grassy areas. They require well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight to thrive, making them ideal for brightening any garden. Read our Tulip care guide here.

Group of Pink Tulips Flowering in May

Wisteria (Wisteria spp.):

May is when wisteria adorns pergolas, walls and trellises with cascades of fragrant, lavender-blue flowers. This vigorous vine is renowned for its stunning floral displays and romantic, trailing growth habit. Wisteria prefers a sunny, sheltered spot with fertile, well-drained soil. Regular pruning is essential to keep its growth in check and encourage abundant flowering. Wisteria can become a breath-taking focal point in any garden with patience and care. Check out our Wisteria care guide now.

Wisteria Plant Growing Over Arch, Flowering in Spring


Alliums, commonly known as ornamental onions, are another highlight of the May garden. These eye-catching bulbs produce spherical flower heads in shades of purple, pink, white, and blue atop tall, sturdy stems. Alliums are beloved by bees and other pollinators, making them valuable additions to wildlife-friendly gardens. They thrive in well-drained soil and prefer a sunny location. Alliums are also excellent for naturalising in meadows or mixed borders, where their architectural blooms add interest and structure. Check out some Allium care tips here.

Allium Bulbs Flowering in Late Spring

Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea):

With their towering spires of tubular flowers, foxgloves bring a touch of woodland charm to the May garden. These biennial plants self-seed readily, forming colonies of elegant blooms in pink, purple, and white shades. Foxgloves prefer partial shade and moist, well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. While they are toxic if ingested, foxgloves are safe to grow in gardens, where they provide valuable nectar for bees and other pollinators.

Purple and White Foxglove flowering in May


Campanula, commonly known as bellflowers, add a delicate charm to the May garden with their graceful, bell-shaped blooms. These perennial plants come in a variety of sizes and colours, from dainty trailing varieties to tall, upright species. Whether nestled in rockeries, borders, or containers, campanulas are sure to draw admiration with their ethereal flowers. They prefer well-drained soil and a sunny to partially shaded location, making them versatile additions to any garden.

Purple Campanula Flowering in Late Spring

Hardy Geranium

Hardy geraniums are a key part of the May garden, producing a profusion of blooms in shades of pink, purple, blue, and white. These low-maintenance perennials are valued for their long flowering season and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions, from sun to shade. Hardy geraniums are excellent ground cover plants, suppressing weeds and providing year-round interest with their attractive foliage.

Container of Pink Hardy Geraniums Flowering in May

Poppy (Papaver):

May brings a burst of colour to the garden with the arrival of poppies in all their glory. These iconic wildflowers, with their delicate, papery petals and bold, vivid hues, create a stunning visual impact wherever they bloom. From the classic red field poppy to the ethereal Shirley poppy, there’s a poppy variety to suit every garden style and colour scheme. Poppies thrive in well-drained soil and prefer a sunny spot, making them ideal for meadow plantings, cottage gardens, or mixed borders.

Multi-colour Poppies Flowering in a UK Garden Border in Spring


Salvias are beloved for their vibrant flowers and aromatic foliage, which add both beauty and fragrance to the May garden. These versatile perennials come in a range of colours, from electric blues and purples to fiery reds and oranges, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Salvias thrive in well-drained soil and prefer a sunny position, although some varieties can tolerate partial shade. With their long-lasting blooms and drought tolerance, salvias are invaluable plants for adding colour and structure to garden borders, containers, and herb gardens alike.

Garden Border of Flowering Salvias in May


May is a magical time in the UK garden as a diverse array of flowering plants burst into bloom, transforming outdoor spaces into vibrant bursts of colour and fragrance. From the majestic blooms of rhododendrons and peonies to the delicate beauty of bluebells and foxgloves, there’s something to captivate every gardener’s heart. By selecting various plants that thrive in different conditions, you can create a dynamic and visually stunning garden that delights the senses and attracts many pollinators. So, embrace the joys of May gardening and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature’s bounty.

Updated on May 1, 2024

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