Bedding plants are a wonderful way to add liveliness to your garden and make it your own. They can transform beds with their differing colours, and will help support our precious pollinators. With so many bedding plants to choose from, you may feel unsure of where to begin; read on for all of the advice you need for choosing and caring for your bedding plants.
What is a Bedding Plant?
A bedding plant can be an annual, biennial, or tender perennial, that is planted into a flower bed to build a seasonal arrangement. After a bedding plant’s season of interest has ended, they will likely be replaced by another plant, and put away or discarded.
Bedding plants will happily grow in hanging baskets, pots, and raised beds. They are therefore suitable for all forms of outdoor space, ranging from a small balcony, to vast grounds.
How do I Choose the Right Bedding Plant?
Before identifying the best bedding plants for your garden, pay close attention to your chosen location, and perhaps ask the following questions:
- How many hours of direct sun does the location receive per day?
- Are there deciduous trees that might limit sunlight come spring?
- What is the state of the soil? Is it damp? Are there lots of stones?
Our guide below will help you decide what degree of shade your location receives:
Preparing your Soil
If you are planting into your garden’s beds, carefully rake through the soil to remove stones and large clods. This will make sure that evaporation isn’t prevented, and a good amount of moisture is kept.
Whether you are planting in pots, raised beds, baskets, or directly into a flower bed, you should always opt for multi-purpose compost. Multi-purpose compost will form a nutrient rich environment for a range of bedding plants, and will also absorb and retain moisture.
What Colours Should I Choose?
Before deciding which colour scheme to embrace, consider how intricate you want your display to be. Mostly done professionally, carpet bedding requires a large range of shades to be planted closely together, however, a simple hanging basket will look beautiful with as little as one variety. For a flower bed, we recommend that you choose four varieties for each season.
Cool Colour Schemes
If you wish to evoke a tranquil atmosphere, light blue, lilac, pastel yellow, and white are excellent for doing so. Paler Petunia varieties, such as ‘Blue Vein’ or ‘Beautiful French Vanilla’, can feature subtle, darker markings, which can help break up your colour scheme, without drawing focus away from other plants.
Warm Colour Schemes
For a bold colour scheme, choose shades that lie opposite to one another on the colour wheel. Possible pairings include purple and yellow, red and green, and blue and orange. Presenting trailing, funnel-shaped blooms, Surfinias are available in an array of colours, so will make an unfailing choice for your garden.
Should I Buy Plug Plants or Seeds?
Seeds and plug plants each come with their positives and negatives. Seeds can be considerably cheaper than plug plants, yet they are harder to grow. They require more time and care, and unfortunately germination isn’t guaranteed.
Unlike seeds, plug plants can be expensive; this particularly applies to larger plants, as their roots are more established. However, plug plants can fill a flower bed with pretty blooms within a matter of weeks; making them a convenient option.
How do I Grow Bedding Plants from Seed?
To successfully grow bedding plants from seed, you will need 10cm pots, peat-free compost, bedding seeds of your choosing, and vermiculite or finely sieved compost.
- Fill each pot with your compost, and delicately pat it down.
- Sow your seeds over the compost, ensuring that they are distanced equally.
- Apply a layer of finely sieved compost or vermiculite. This will provide gentle cover for your seeds.
- Label your pots so you can cater to any unique requirements that a variety might have.
- Once each pot has had a nourishing drink, place them into a heated propagator to allow germination.
- When seedlings have developed, prick out those of the largest size, and re-plant into individual containers.
How do I Grow Potted Bedding Plants?
If the risk of frost has passed, larger plugs can be planted straight into your garden. To ensure continued growing, smaller plug plants should be re-planted into containers or pots. For this you will need a pencil, multi-purpose compost, perlite, a dibber, and 7- 8cm pots.
- To remove your bedding plants from their containers, carefully push them upwards from their base with a pencil.
- Fill 7 – 8cm pots with a mix of multi-purpose compost and perlite.
- Employing a dibber, make a hole in each pot that slightly exceeds the size of your plants.
- Taking great care, tease out your plants’ roots, and then place them into their holes.
How do I Care for my Bedding Plants?
- Watering: If your bedding plants are in pots or baskets, they will benefit from daily watering. Even on a rainy day, this advice still applies; a bedding plant’s foliage can provide impressive shelter. For flower beds, a weekly drink will be sufficient.
- Deadheading: Any flowers that appear spent should be removed from their base. This will stop your plant from wasting energy by producing seeds.
- Flower feed: Supplement one watering a week with a potassium-rich feed. Most composts contain a finite amount of food, so we recommend that you start using feed a month after they were planted out.