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summer-bedding-plants-garden-flowers

Bedding plants provide instant, impactful colour around the garden in spring and summer. They brighten up the front of a border and fill gaps between plants that aren’t yet in bloom. And of course they thrive in pots, containers and hanging baskets throughout the summer.

Most bedding plants are annual, which means they only grow and flower for one year. They are discarded at the end of the season, and the following year new plants will be grown. This gives you the freedom to change your bedding displays every year for a different visual effect.

Getting started

Impatiens or busy lizzies

Impatiens or busy lizzies

Bedding plants are relatively easy to grow from seed and you don’t need a greenhouse. They will thrive in a seed tray or pots covered with a polythene bag on a windowsill.

If you want to buy established plants, seedlings are usually available through mail order. You will need to prick them to ensure their roots have room to grow. Spread the seedlings out in a seed tray or transfer them to individual pots.

You can also buy plug plants or trays of bigger plants from garden retailers and nurseries. Keep potting on your plants when they outgrow their containers until they are ready to be planted out in the garden.

Potting and growing

Pansies

Pansies

To pot up your seedlings and plant plugs, first water the plants well. Lift them out of the soil, handling them by the leaves rather than the stems. If you damage a leaf, it will grow back. But if you damage the stem, you’ll lose the plant.

Plant them into their new pot to the same depth as before, then firm down the compost and use a liquid feed to water them in.

It is important to acclimatise new plants to the outdoors before they are planted into their final spots in beds, borders or containers. To do this, harden them off by moving them to a cold frame, an unheated porch or onto a cool windowsill.

Planting out

Petunias

Petunias

Then, in late spring or early summer when all risk of frost is passed, plant out your new bedding plants to their final positions in your garden.

There are a few hardy varieties which can be planted out earlier, such as pansies and primulas. They will give a cheerful burst of colour in early spring, and can then be replaced or added to later with bright and beautiful summer bedding.

Popular varieties include petunias, busy lizzies, begonias, geraniums, lobelia, marigolds and salvias, but there is a huge range available, so head to your garden centre and pick your favourites!

Watering and care

water-pots-and-flowering-plants

Remember to water daily or even twice daily during dry spells and continue using a liquid feed each week during the flowering season.

Plants in containers and hanging baskets are most at risk of drying out, but there are many products to help retain water in the soil. Try incorporating gels, crystals and pellets into the compost before planting to reduce the amount of watering needed. But remember to check the soil regularly.

Encourage the plants to keep flowering by frequently deadheading the fading blooms. This will also keep your displays looking fresh and bright throughout the summer. Now all you need is some sunshine!


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