Knowing what they are
Almost all bedding plants are treated as annuals. They are usually raised from seed, brought on in a greenhouse or Cold Frame, and planted out for summer display. Then, after a few months of glory, they are consigned to the compost heap. But they can also include some biennials (plants with a two year life cycle) and some half hardy perennials.
If you are growing bedding plants from seed, sow them indoors from March to April, and harden off the plants if you are transplanting them to the flowerbeds. If they have been grown in the greenhouse, put them outside every day in the fine weather and return them at night. If the plants are raised in a cold frame, open the top of the frame as soon as possible, leaving it open a little more as the weeks go by.
Making the best buys
Bedding plants are sold in boxes, pots or cellular trays in late spring and early summer. The best ones are those with green foliage, short branching stems, set in slightly moist compost and having a good root system. Avoid plants that are pale and have over long foliage, or roots bunched in drainage holes. Also avoid those set in dry compost that is pulling away from the containers edges.
Getting the colour right
Before buying, check a plants colour by examining the buds. The colour shown on plant labels may vary considerably from the actual colour of the plant.
Give your flowerbeds height and interest by including a few large pot plants such as fuchsias or lilies. For best effect place the pots at the rear or in the centre.
Wait for warm weather
Do not be tempted to plant too early. Bedding plants are often forced in greenhouses and will not take kindly to the chill of spring. Wait until mid May, or even late May in the North or East of the country.
Outsmart the slugs
If slugs are a problem, protect your bedding plants from the time of planting by leaving a single Slug Pellet alongside each plant immediately after watering in.
Watering before planting
Before setting out bedding plants in their final positions, submerge their pots for a few minutes in a washing up bowl half filled with water so that the compost round the plants is thoroughly moistened. This will help the plants to become established and to grow faster and flower earlier.