How to get the best from your annual beds and borders

Colourful begonias in borders

Fill your beds and borders with brightly coloured annual plants
Image: Begonia semperflorens 'Organdy Mixed' F1 Hybrid from T&M

The best thing about annual beds and borders is that you can completely change the theme every year. Whether you go for a classic cottage garden style packed with pretty pastels, a ‘hot’ border filled with brightly-coloured blooms, or a cool and contemporary scheme in monochrome white, there are so many possibilities! Here are some top tips to help you get the most from your annual bedding plants.

Want to see scented flowers, foliage plants or winter options? Browse our full range of bedding plants for even more inspiration. 

How to choose the best annual bedding plants

Yellow marigold flowers with purple petunias

These super vigorous marigold plants are smothered in bright fragrant flowers until autumn
Image: Marigold F1 'Zenith Mixed' from T&M

To get the best from your annual bedding plants, choose varieties that have been specifically bred for garden performance. Garden centres and DIY stores need to stock the plants that look good on their display shelves. If you choose online bedding from Thompson & Morgan, you’ll receive high quality plants that our horticultural team has selected for long flowering periods, weather tolerance and disease resistance. They may not always look impressive on arrival, but they’ll burst into life and put on strong growth as soon as you plant them up. 

How to create a sensational annual border

Pink, purple and white frilly petunias

The world's finest double petunias, 'Orchid-Flowered Mixed' comes in a wide mix of bright colours
Image: Petunia 'Orchid-Flowered Mixed' F1 Hybrid from T&M

To give your bedding plants the best chance of success, here are some planting and care tips:

  • Harden off your bedding plants before planting them out. 
  • Lay out all your bedding plants in situ, before you begin to plant anything. Whether you prefer a formal, symmetrical scheme or a more informal layout, think about the mature plant heights and keep smaller flowers to the front where they can shine.
  • Bedding plants look best planted in blocks, rather than as solitary specimens. 
  • Position plants close together. There’s nothing worse than looking at bare soil, and positioning your plants closer together helps to control weeds and prevent water evaporation. Very formal schemes often use hundreds of plants to create a ‘carpet’ of colour.
  • Don’t forget to feed your plants to help them thrive. Something like ‘Incredibloom is perfect. You just use it twice - once when you plant up and again in the middle of the summer as a top-up.
  • Remove faded flowers regularly. Plants like petunias or marigolds need to be deadheaded every couple of days to encourage new flowers. 

How to make the most of annual bedding plants: video guide

By following this advice you can enjoy a beautiful bedding scheme that wows friends and neighbours all summer long. Looking for new ideas? Check out our list of top ten summer bedding plants for easy options or learn everything you need to know about bedding plants over at our dedicated hub page.


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