How to plant bedding plants
One of the easiest and most popular ways to bring colour and zing to the garden and brighten up borders and containers is with bedding plants. Bedding plants are those plants; generally short lived annuals, or half hardy or tender plants that last for only one season and are removed and often replaced as they die down.
Bedding Plants To Suit All Seasons
Although most people are familiar with summer bedding plants, which are planted out after the last frosts – any time from the end of May onwards depending on where you live, there is also a whole host of winter bedding plants available and these are planted out once summer bedding plants have faded; usually in October. Amongst summer bedding plant favourites are fuchsias, geraniums, sweet peas, petunias, lobelia, begonias, gazanias, pelargoniums and cannas, while popular winter bedding plants include pansies, violas, forget-me-nots, primulas and polyanthus – all perfect for cheering up the garden through the dull dark days of winter. Spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and crocus are also often planted as part of the winter bedding plants display, ready to take over as they die down in early spring.
Growing Bedding Plants From Seed
Summer bedding plants are easily the most popular however, and these can be bought in full flower, straight from the garden centre in summer, for a splash of instant colour, but it is also possible to buy young bedding plants as plugs in trays, as well as to grow your own bedding plants from seed. The cheapest way to grow your own bedding plants is to grow them yourself from seed. You get the biggest choice of variety of bedding plants this way and if you're successful can seriously cut down on cost. But growing from seed can take up a lot of space, preferably in a greenhouse, although windowsills work if you have the room and patience, and is a reasonably involved and often frustrating process. Germination can fail completely, seedlings can suffer from fungal diseases such as damping off, and even if you do succeed, seedlings need potting on several times before they are ready to go outside. Because of this a lot of gardeners prefer to cut out the initial hard work, frustration and risk that growing bedding plants from seed involves and grow them on from plugs instead.
From spring onwards, garden centres are full of trays of summer bedding plants, all plug plants that you then grow on yourself at home until they are ready to go outside in the garden. Plug plants are established baby plants, each with their own root systems that are ready to be potted on into small pots as soon as you get them home. There are usually a number of different sizes of plug bedding plants available, with the smallest being the best value for money but also requiring the most amount of effort and potting on.
Planting Out Your Bedding Plants
Whichever way you choose to grow your bedding plants, whether from seed, plugs or ready to go plants, they will all need hardening off before they are planted into their final positions outside. Hardening off simply means to acclimatise your bedding plants to the conditions outside and involves placing your plants in the garden during the day and then bringing them back in again at night for a period of a couple of weeks, until they are ready to stay outside permanently. Once bedding plants are in their final spot water them in well and keep watering, feeding and deadheading them throughout the season for the very best display.