As summer draws to an end it’s an ideal time to be thinking about winter bedding plants for cheerful colour during the coldest months of the year! Winter bedding plants are biennial or perennial plants which are planted in the autumn, some flowering throughout the winter during milder spells, before putting on a burst of vigorous growth in the spring. Try planting winter bedding plants in beds, borders, containers, window boxes and hanging baskets for a welcome splash of colour when few other plants are in flower. Why not try planting spring bulbs underneath your bedding plants for something a bit different! We’ve listed our 10 best winter bedding plants below.
A stalwart of winter bedding displays, Pansy plants are so versatile and will bloom for far longer than any other winter flowering bedding plant. From autumn through to spring, pansies provide a welcome splash of colour in beds, borders, containers, window boxes and hanging baskets! Available in many colours, including white, purple, blue, red, orange and yellow, grow winter-flowering pansies in a sunny or partially shaded position and dead-head regularly for continuous flowering.
Generally slightly smaller than Pansies, Viola plants produce an abundance of dainty flowers on neat compact growth for a more subtle display. As versatile as pansies, you can buy upright varieties such as Viola ‘Sweeties’ or trailing violas such as Viola cornuta 'Endurio Mixed' which are ideal for winter hanging baskets. Many violas often have a delightful sweet fragrance too.
A well-loved cottage garden favourite, modern breeding has given us a plethora of new colours, sizes and improved flowering in primrose plants. No longer flowering for a brief period in spring, modern varieties such as Primrose 'Husky Mixed' start producing their rosettes of flowers from mid-winter onwards in a whole host of bright colours. A great bedding plant for winter, try primroses in beds, borders, window boxes and containers to add sparkle to your garden on dull winter days.
Compact and bright, Polyanthus plants differ slightly to primroses in that the flowers are produced in umbels atop short, sturdy stems. As colourful as their cousins and with long-lasting flowers, Polyanthus are superb winter bedding plants for beds, borders, window boxes and containers. For a fragrant display try Polyanthus 'Most Scented Mix'.
Renowned for their sweet spring fragrance, wallflowers are a cottage garden favourite with a more relaxed habit than other winter bedding plants. Traditionally planted in the autumn for flowers the following spring, there are now varieties such as Wallflower 'Sugar Rush' which flower in the autumn too! Coping with even the poorest of soils, wallflower plants look great in beds, borders, containers and window boxes for a long-lasting, fragrant display.
Another cottage-garden favourite, Sweet William flowers are deliciously fragrant and borne on stiff, upright stems making them superb for cutting. Although Sweet William plants are short-lived perennials, they are mostly grown as biennials, planted in the autumn for flowers from May to July. Ideal in beds, borders and containers, varieties such as Dianthus barbatus 'Messenger' will add a vibrant mix of red, pink, purple and white to your late spring bedding schemes.
A well known bedding plant for winter, these neat, upright biennials produce large, ruffled, strongly fragrant flower spikes from mid-spring through to mid-summer. Over-wintering as a rosette of leaves, Stock plants burst into life as the weather warms in spring and make a real impact when planted in large drifts through beds and borders, or in containers on the patio. Available in an array of pretty pastel colours, Stock flowers are fantastic for cutting and will fill your house with a delicious sweet fragrance for up to a week.
This pretty winter bedding plant erupts with an abundance of dainty flowers in the spring and is the perfect partner for spring bulbs. Traditionally blue, Forget-me-not plants are also available in pink and white, such as Myosotis 'Sylva' Mix. Masses of tiny button flowers create a frothy effect in beds, borders and containers, and plants will happily self-seed for a continuous display in the garden every year.
Neat and compact, these hardy perennial daisies produce masses of round, quilled blooms in pink, red or white. For a really eye-catching variety try Bellis 'Pomponette' which has white flowers with pink petal tips. Ideal for massing in beds, borders, containers and window boxes, Bellis plants will keep on flowering right through the spring, representing excellent value for money.
A true winter-flowering plant, Cyclamen coum will fill your garden with colour even on the dullest January and February days. A more subtle winter-flowering bedding plant, Cyclamen’s dainty nodding flowers with reflexed petals, and attractive marbled leaves, pair well with snowdrops, evergreen grasses, box and trailing ivy. Grow Cyclamen coum in beds, borders, containers or window boxes for a splash of pink in your winter garden.
Try planting winter bedding plants in beds, borders, containers, window boxes and hanging baskets for a welcome splash of colour when few other plants are in flower.
Many winter bedding plants also make superb spring cut flowers, such as Stocks.