Find out everything you need to keep your bedding plants growing strong with our comprehensive guide. Bedding plants are annuals or biennials which flower for one season and provide continuous colour for many months. From spring bedding plants such as forget-me-nots and wallflowers through to winter bedding plants like pansies, it’s possible to keep your garden in bloom almost all year round. Here’s how to grow and care for your spring, summer and winter bedding.
Bedding plants are incredibly versatile and can be used in beds, hanging baskets, patio containers and window boxes. They’re also a cost-effective way to plug gaps in perennial borders with quick and easy colour. A fantastic choice for beginner gardeners, bedding plants allow you to be creative and try completely new designs each year. Here are some of our top tips:
Bedding plants can be raised from seed although buying trays of plugs is by far the quickest and easiest solution.
Summer bedding plant seeds are usually sown from February to April, while winter and spring bedding plants are sown from May to July ready to plant out in autumn. Most can be started in seed trays and then pricked out and grown on, but there are a few hardy annuals which need to be sown directly where they are to flower. These include borage, California poppy, Nigella ‘Moody Blues’ and poppies.
Summer bedding plug plants are dispatched in spring, and need potting up and growing-on in frost-free conditions before planting out in late May or early June. Winter bedding plants like polyanthus ‘Most Scented Mix’ and wallflower ‘Dwarf Scented Mix’, are sent out in late summer and should be grown on and planted out once they've rooted into their pots or module trays.
Most bedding plants prefer a position in full sun but there are a few which will thrive in shade. See our 'Plants for Shade' article for a list of annual and biennial plants to try. Half-hardy bedding plants shouldn’t be planted out until all risk of frost has passed in late May. Follow these steps to plant out your bedding:
Newly planted bedding plants should be watered regularly but, once established, they should only need deadheading from time to time and watering in prolonged periods of dry weather.
Plants grown in the ground and winter bedding plants won't require any extra feeding. Summer bedding plants in containers will normally have enough nutrients for 6 weeks of growth, but after this time they will benefit from a weekly feed with a balanced fertiliser. For more information on feeding plants in containers, read our 'Plants for containers' article.
We hope we’ve given you plenty of information to help you create your own stunning bedding plant displays! For more advice, read our 'Top ten winter bedding plants' article and visit our dedicated bedding plant hub page. Share your pictures with us via the #YourTMGarden.