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What size bedding suits you best?

An article by our feature writer Christine Walkden

Summer bedding is so exciting. I just love it.  It’s the fact that the plants we use these days are so exciting, offering good habits of growth, long flowering periods and a great range of colour.  You also have the opportunity of changing things each year if you so wish.


The way we can raise these plants has also changed. Obviously, you can still raise your own plants from seed but many of the cultivars that we offer are not widely available to the amateur gardener, you need heat and sometimes specialist equipment and also plenty of room.

To make things easier Gardening Direct offers a size range that gives all gardeners the opportunity of having a go depending on what facilities they have.

Our summer bedding is available as spring Small Plug Plants where the plants are grown in individual cells and measure approximately 4-8cm in height from the root of the plant to the tip of the stem.

These are the type of material that you can buy if you have heated greenhouse or conservatory and you wish to transplant them immediately on arrival and grow them on until the risk of frost has passed.  They are small plants that require a bit of experience to ensure you grow them on successfully to the planting out stage.

This means that you need plenty of room and materials like trays, pots and compost. You also need to be able to keep these plants warm in a greenhouse or heated room from late February to the end of April before you harden them off, which means getting them used to outdoor temperatures by gradually introducing them to outdoor conditions over a period of about two to three weeks.

Spring Medium Plug Plants are slightly larger at 6-10cm tall and again should be grown on indoors until all risk of frost has passed.

For those of you who have limited facilities or space go for the Maxi Ready Plants or the Large Plants, these vary in height from 7-12cm high.  They can of course be grown on a bit if you so wish or they can be planted straight out into the garden or containers once the risk of frost have passed.

With such a range of sizes available, how do you look after your young plants? The first thing to ensure on arrival is that the plants are given a watering.  Take care to ensure those cells on the edge of the trays get some water.  My experience is that the water tends to run off the edges and the plants can be very dry.

Begonia Sparkle perfect for your hanging basketsMove then on as soon as possible either into trays or individual pot using compost that had been warmed up a bit.  I always bring my compost into my kitchen for a few days before using it.  This way the plants do not receive a check to growth by being placed into cold compost that has just come out of the shed, garage or cold greenhouse.  I also water them in with lukewarm water and not that from a cold tap.

Once growing start to harden them off and when the last frosts have passed, that is when all the fun and excitement gets going.

Try the lovely combination of Begonia ‘Sahara’ in the main planting space of a container and the lovely trailing silver foliage of Dichondra ‘Silver Flass’ over the edge. This also makes a great combination in a hanging basket or a window box.

Keep all your plants well fed by liquid feeding with potash rich fertilizer such as a tomato feed once a week and also deadhead regularly to ensure a good succession of flowers.


Looking for bedding plants? Click here to view our full range of spring bedding plants for your summer garden

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