Spring Planting Guide: What to Plant in May

By Jess
26 Apr 2022

May is almost here, yay, and I wanted to re-circulate this blog post as we approach gardening season. I noticed soil and compost were out at the Farmer’s Market this week and planting season is upon us. When we are back in RI we will probably do 1-2 small raised beds for the summer to start growing a few veggies, but we have our CSA all summer so we plant mostly flowers, shrubs and herbs. I always do hanging baskets too because I love how they look on our deck. I’m looking forward to seeing how our rose bushes and hydrangeas that we planted several years ago start to really fill in. Let me know what your garden plans are for this year!

Spring Planting Guide: What to Plant in May
image by shore creative

What to Plant in May

I asked my resident plant gurus Kim and Chris of Greenlion for their advice and expertise on what to plant this time of year. They gave a very comprehensive list along with some ideas for companion planting (shown in the image above). If you’re local they offer garden consults to offer guidance for gardening, small space garden design and container garden installation. They are SO talented so if you are looking for someone to help you with your garden, definitely get in touch with Kim and Chris. Some of this list is a bit location/climate specific (Northeast) but if you check out the plant hardiness zone map and your corresponding zone you can get a better idea of what works where you live. If you’re in a warmer climate you can certainly start planting in early spring.

I added some of my favorites to the list from Kim & Chris including what we plant in our own garden. Make sure to pay attention to the risk of frost where you live. Sometimes here in New England we get a freeze in mid May so we always wait until frost has passed to put plants in the ground (usually right around Memorial Day weekend to play it safe). RI is warmer than Vermont in that respect and there have been times when there’s been a freeze in late May and even early June.

A few tips from Kim and Chris:
  • In May, tropicals and annuals need to wait until after risk of frost and evening temps are not dipping too low, its rare we get a frost in May but usually by mid-May we are safe as temps start to even out.
  • Make sure you find out if plants have been “hardened off” that you are purchasing.
  • Some additional companion planting ideas:
    • Roses – good companions or flower friends that help to hide their bare legs as they grow up include Nepeta, Alchemilla (lady’s mantle) and Lavender
    • Bee Balm looks great with Columbine
    • Tulips and Daffodils work great with Hostas and Iris
    • Coneflower and Yarrow are a magic pair

You might also like: my favorite gardening tools and accessories here and my guide to composting at home.

What to Plant in May


  • Flowering Viburnum (heavenly smell) 
  • Larkspur – Hardy annuals
  • Celosia
  • Geraniums
  • Begonias
  • Gomphrena
  • Nicotiana
  • Zinnias – Great cut flower
  • Foxglove
  • Flowering Basil
  • Salvia – Annual salvia’s are amazing and attract hummingbirds, fill patio pots with bright salvia to attract pollinators
  • Cosmos
  • Nepeta
  • Heuchera 
  • Clematis (be sure to shade the roots ) – We have the Montana variety growing up our pergola.
  • Peonies – One of my favorites for an early summer bloom


  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Dill


  • Mock Orange (amazing fragrance) 
  • Hydrangeas
  • Roses
  • Boxwood
  • Azaleas 
  • Blueberries – don’t want to net them? Let the birds enjoy them and encourage a living landscape that supports wildlife. 
  • Raspberries

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Tomatoes – easy to grow
  • Cucumbers – they can take up a lot of room in your garden so be careful with where you plant.
  • Summer Squash – easy to grow
  • Peppers
  • French Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Kale – easy to grow (I found some that survived winter the last time I was in RI!)
  • Peas
  • Strawberries – our patch gets bigger every year and fresh strawberries are so good.
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  1. Rach wrote:

    Just like everyone else, I’ve been gardening! And omg this post is so helpful. I’m about to go out and buy more plants and flowers this weekend!


    5.22.20 | Reply
    • Jess wrote:

      Ohhh sounds fun! Enjoy it. xx

      5.23.20 | Reply
  2. Lynn wrote:

    Gosh I miss New England so much. Hydrangeas do not grow here and they are my favorites . We had such a beautiful garden in Vermont and yes snow in May . “Poor man’s fertilizer “the locals called it .

    4.26.22 | Reply