Your monthly gardening checklists

Flowers

  • Prune spring shrubs, such as forsythia and chaenomeles, after flowering to keep them compact
  • Plant out dahlia tubers and cannas after all risk of frost has passed
  • Tie in the new shoots of climbing plants, including clematis, wisteria and honeysuckle, to their supports
  • Continue sowing annuals, such as California poppies, into gaps in borders for colour from August into autumn
  • Plant up hanging baskets, but keep in a greenhouse or porch for a few weeks to establish, before putting outside
  • Apply liquid feed to tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs to encourage a good display next year
  • Plant out summer bedding and tender annuals, including sunflowers, cosmos and nasturtiums, after the last frost
  • Remove faded spring bedding, such as wallflowers and forget-me-nots, and add to your compost bin
  • Check lilies and fritillaries for scarlet lily beetles and their larvae, as they can rapidly strip plants of all foliage

Fruit and veg

  • Earth up potatoes, covering the shoots with soil as they appear
  • Sow sweetcorn in deep pots, so the young plants are ready to transplant into the garden in June
  • Reduce snail populations by going on regular evening hunts, especially during damp weather
  • Start sowing dwarf and climbing French beans, as well as runner beans, directly outdoors in warm weather
  • Pick rhubarb stems as they develop, and water plants with liquid feed
  • Start hardening off tender young plants, such as tomatoes and courgettes, ready for planting out in mild areas
  • Sow batches of salad leaves and stir-fry crops every few weeks to provide continuous pickings
  • Hang pheromone traps in apple and plum trees from May to July, to control pests
  • Thin out seedlings, like carrots, from earlier sowings to ensure you get healthy, strong-growing plants
  • Open fruit cage doors or lift some of the netting to ensure pollinating insects can get access to the flowers
  • Remove all strawberry runners, so plants put their full energy into fruiting

Greenhouse

  • Prick out seedlings growing in pots and trays as soon as they produce their first true leaves
  • Sow sweet peas in deep pots and keep them frost-free in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill
  • Sow quick-growing microgreens, such as kale and mustard, for nutrient-rich pickings in just a few weeks
  • Transplant greenhouse tomatoes into growing bags or large containers and tie in the stems to supports
  • Plant up hanging baskets and pots with summer bedding, but keep indoors until after the last frost
  • Sow herbs in pots or trays, including basil, chives, parsley, fennel and coriander
  • Thin out heavy fruit sets on peaches and nectarines, leaving fruits about 10cm apart
  • Sow runner beans, French beans, cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkins and sweetcorn in pots
  • Pinch out the shoot tips of fuchsias to develop bushier plants
  • Attach guttering to the greenhouse and install a water butt, so you can make good use of April showers. Listen to this podcast episode to find out more about water wise gardening.
  • Clean greenhouse glazing to let in as much light as possible
  • Maintain good plant hygiene, picking off faded blooms and dead leaves before fungal diseases can take hold
  • Open greenhouse doors and vents on warm days, or install automatic vent openers, to improve air circulation
Cupani sweet peas

House plants

  • Start feeding houseplants once a week with liquid fertiliser, continuing through to autumn
  • Water your house plants more regularly as the temperatures warm, check the soil before watering. Take a look at our guide to watering house plants
  • Maximise the amount of light your house plants receive by moving to brighter spots, or choose house plants that will grow in shadier spots
  • Some house plants, like snake plants, are particularly prone to collecting dust on their leaves. So be sure to give these a wipe regularly
  • Try and keep house plants away from temperature fluctuations caused by draughts or central heating
  • Check your house plants for pests like aphids, scale insects, thrips and mealybugs

For more house plant advice and inspiration visit our Growing and caring for house plants page

Garden maintenance

  • Put a bag of barley straw in ponds to discourage algae and keep the water clear all summer
  • Lay turf or sow grass seed to create a new lawn or repair damaged patches
  • Cut back tatty old fern fronds to make way for new ones that are starting to unfurl
  • Keep cloches or large sheets of fleece handy to protect young plants if late frost is forecast
  • Cut away unwanted suckers growing around the base of trees and shrubs
  • Hoe between rows of veg seedlings regularly, as weeds grow rapidly at this time of year
  • Remove moss and weeds in turf, and boost growth with a nitrogen-rich lawn feed
  • Check that guttering on sheds and greenhouses is clear of debris, so that April showers will fill up water butts
  • Add new aquatic plants to ponds and divide established plants that have outgrown their baskets
  • Put pumps and fountains back into ponds, thoroughly cleaning the filters first
  • Treat problem weeds, such as nettles and brambles
  • Look out for clusters of aphids on shoot tips and young leaves, and wipe off before they multiply
  • Keep putting out food for birds, as they’re busy raising their broods