The danger of late frost should be over in our area by mid May. It means that hanging baskets, pots and borders can be filled with colour by planting out bedding plants. Colour combinations can be wildly bold or romantically muted. We are so fortunate with the vast range of bedding plants available to us. Many of these plants, such as Geraniums, Fuchsias and Petunias are old favourites but there are always new and exciting varieties of them to try, as well as Verbena, Nemesia, Cosmos and the delightful daisy-like Osteospurmum.
Bedding plants gained their name from the rather formal bedding systems of the Nineteenth Century. During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries a huge number of plants were introduced to Britain from abroad. They were soon being propagated on a grand scale in greenhouses on large estates and “bedded out” when they were about to flower. Complex patterns and shapes were created in formal beds designed to inspire admiration in all who saw them. They were also a mark of the status of the landowner.
Bedding plants do need regular watering. Life can be made easier by using a compost containing water retaining granules or adding these granules or gel to a multi-purpose compost.
Bedding plants also benefit from regular feeding. Some composts contain a certain amount of plant food but this is used up over time. Granular fertilisers are available. Otherwise a liquid feed is usually the easiest way to keep your bedding plants looking good throughout the summer.
It is a really good idea to do some dead-heading, removing the old heads encourages the plant to flower over a much longer period. Most of all bedding plants are to be enjoyed for what they are – a bit of fun and a splash of colour from May to September.