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A Guide to Bedding Plants

From hanging baskets in porches to lavish floral displays in town centres, bedding plants produce a flourish of colour that really brighten up an outdoor space.

Have you ever wondered how so many gardens look like they've been professionally designed at the beginning of each season? Bedding plants are the answer.

Creating your own bedding plant garden display is quicker and easier than you might imagine. With some careful planning, you can even design a year-round floral display for your garden or patio.

Where to Use Bedding Plants

Bedding plants are extremely versatile in the garden. Given their name, these plants obviously work well in flower beds and borders. However, they also look fabulous in hanging baskets, window boxes, pots and containers. As such, they make excellent patio plants and require minimal effort to look after.

Plug Plants or Seeds?

An essential part of deciding which plants best suit your needs is choosing between plug plants and seeds. Both have their benefits.

Bedding plant seeds are usually sown in late winter to early spring for summer flowering plants and early to mid-summer for those that flower in winter. For excellent germination, you'll need to provide warmth and light so it's best to start seeds off in the greenhouse or propagator to give them a helping hand. Watching plants grow from seeds is satisfying and usually works out a little cheaper than plug plants.

Plug plants are by far the quickest and easiest way to create a stunning floral display. They come ready to transfer into the garden and don't take long to reach their full potential. Plug plants offer fantastic value and require minimal effort. Wait until the threat of frost has passed before planting out summer flowering plug plants. Winter flowering plugs can be planted out in September, once the hottest temperatures of summer have died down.

Plug plants have many benefits, including being quick and easy to plant

How Long Do Bedding Plants Last?

Most bedding plants are annuals, which means they will grow and flower for just one season before dying off. Once they begin to fade, dig the plants up and compost them. You can then prepare your beds, pots, baskets and containers for the new season's flowers.

Summer Bedding Plants

Most summer bedding plants will flower through the season from June to August/September.

A large range of plant varieties is available, so it can be tricky to choose the right ones for your space. Here are some of our favourites at Gardeners Dream, complete with benefits and tips for each.

Begonia

Begonias are popular bedding plants due to their vibrant colour and longevity. These bright flowers will add colour to garden displays all the way through to autumn. They are easy to care for and produce large blooms in a wide variety of hues.

Begonia is the perfect plant for adding a burst of colour to the garden

Alstroemeria

Alstroemeria plants bring an exotic air to the garden and look striking in pots and containers. Originating from South America, these patterned flowers thrive in full sun or partial shade and make an eye-catching addition to the garden.

Alstroemeria produces beautiful blooms that will be the envy of your neighbours

Sweet Pea

Sweet Peas are long flowering bedding plants with highly fragrant flowers that bloom from early summer right through to October. Our plant stock includes tall and dwarf Sweet Pea varieties, which can be combined to create a gorgeous effect.

Planting Sweet Peas in flower beds and hanging baskets adds colour and interest to the garden

Petunia

Ever-popular, petunias produce a mass of pretty flowers that last until the first frost. They thrive in a sunny spot and are available in an array of vivid colours to suit any style of garden. Petunias love moist but well-drained soil so keep them well watered during dry spells.

Petunias are extremely popular bedding plants

Winter Bedding Plants

Winter bedding plants brighten up the garden or patio during what tends to be a somewhat drab period. Even if you won't be spending much time in the garden during the colder months, it's still nice to see splashes of colour as you pull into the drive or look out the window.

Our choice of winter bedding plants is perfect for keeping flower beds, borders, baskets, pots and containers colourful and bright.

Pansy

Pansies are great for autumn planting and provide vibrant colour right through to spring. They have a pleasantly sweet fragrance, which is lovely in a hanging basket or pot near the front door.

Pansies can be used to create striking winter garden displays

Primrose

Primroses are quintessential flowers for tasteful hanging baskets and flower beds. They are bursting with colour, and feature bright yellow centres that attract the eye. Primrose bedding plants are easy to care for and flower right into spring.

Discover plants like Primrose, which flower all through winter

Inspiration

If you fancy the idea of using bedding plants but don't quite know where to start, think about the overall look you're trying to achieve. Would you rather have a contemporary-looking display that has obviously been well planned? Or would you rather aim for a country garden effect with a variety of flowers complimenting and contrasting with each other?

Many people choose to have bedding plant themes. Plants can easily be coordinated to produce a bold or whimsical colour scheme. Alternatively, use different shades of the same flower variety to tie your pots, baskets and beds together.

As a general rule, taller plants should be planted towards the back of borders and beds or in the middle of pots and baskets. Place smaller plants placed towards the front or the edge and you'll create a floral display full of texture and interest.

One benefit of annual bedding plants is that you can experiment. If something doesn't work then you only have to put up with it for one season and can try something different next year.

Use colours and texture to create stunning garden displays

Caring for Bedding Plants

Bedding plants are generally easy to care for and don't require much attention once they've been planted out. However, there are a few things you can do to help keep them healthy and promote longevity.

Choose the Perfect Position

Some plants are sun worshippers while others prefer a little shade now and again. Take this into account when choosing where to plant your flowers and they'll be much more likely to thrive.

Remove Spent Flowers

Deadheading plants will help focus their energy on replacing the flowers so you can enjoy brightly coloured blooms all season. The easiest way to do this is to pinch the plant stem below the flower head using your finger and thumb.

Remove spent blooms from your plant to encourage further flowering

Water Carefully

Newly planted plants will require watering every day or every other day for the first week or so until they are established. After that, you can reduce watering to around once a week, although they may need more during hot dry spells.

Hanging baskets and window boxes are often sheltered from the rain by the building's eaves so plants will require watering often. Drainage holes are essential to prevent the plants don't become waterlogged.

Feed Regularly

Annuals grow quickly so use up the nutrients in the soil faster than many other plants. For minimal effort, a slow-release fertiliser added to the soil will do the job. Alternatively, mix a feed into your weekly watering routine.

Bedding plants are a great way to add splashes of colour to your garden all year round. They are easy to care for and create striking displays with very little effort.

Shop our full range of bedding and basket plants here.

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