Is It Too Late For Bedding Plants?

Summer is fast approaching and there’s nothing better than relaxing in the garden and making the most of the sunshine, surrounded by all of your gorgeous plants and flowers. However, if like us, you’ve not been feeling very green fingered this year, do not worry - there’s still time to make sure your green space is blooming beautiful for the summer ahead! It’s not too late for bedding plants so make the most of the forthcoming May bank holiday and get planting!

In order to enjoy your summer plants, many people believe that you need to be bedding plants very early on in the year. However, summer bedding plants are tender and will be killed by frost so it’s best to leave it until later in the year. In fact, May is the ideal time to bed your plants as the weather is slightly warmer.

If you have a greenhouse or conservatory, then you can afford to start your planting earlier due to the slightly warmer climate, however, for the most part, now is the perfect time to think about transforming your garden.

It’s important to consider the climate as well as the local conditions. In the UK, the weather is likely to be a little bit unpredictable however, it’s pretty safe to say that we should be frost free by May, resulting in the perfect conditions for bedding. With that being said, the climate in the North is generally colder than it is in the South, so you may want to consider delaying by a few weeks, or investing in a fleece or cloche for protection.

When it comes to bedding, it’s important to choose the right plants for your garden. Bedding can be grown from seed, seedlings such as plug plants, or pot-grown specimens in trays. Ideally you’d be looking to bed plants which are at least half hardy, if not fully hardy, which will bloom across many seasons.

Begonia, Busy Lizzie and Petunias are low maintenance, popular options for summer displays and provide long flowering seasons and beautiful scents. Other great bedding options for May include Geraniums, Marigolds, Cosmos, Sweetpeas, Primroses and Fuchsias. Now’s also the perfect time to plant climbing or scented annuals, which will bring joy to your garden year after year.

The success of bedding plants often comes down to a number of factors so it’s also important to consider your soil type and levels of sunlight. Hardy annuals such as Alyssum and Calendulas are great for bedding directly into soil and are designed to withstand frosty conditions later on in the year. On the other hand, half-hardy or tender sub tropical plants such as banana plants or palms require a lot of sunlight to truly thrive.

Once you’ve chosen your plants, it’s time to prepare your soil! Carefully rake through your soil to remove any stones or large clods - this will ensure that a good amount of moisture is kept and that evaporation isn’t prevented. It will also ensure that your plants are free to grow with enough oxygen for healthy development. Before considering any fertiliser or compost, you should also test the pH and nutrient level of the soil so you can make sure you’re taking the correct steps.

When it comes to bedding plants, it’s always a good idea to use multi-purpose compost as it will form a nutrient rich environment for all kinds of bedding plants, whilst also absorbing and retaining moisture. Alongside traditional compost or manure, you could also consider adding forms of organic matter such as leaf mould, grass clippings, or straw. All of these materials are great for further enhancing your soil structure, allowing your plants the best opportunity to thrive.

Now for the fun part - the planting itself! But how do you go about bedding plants in your garden? To start with, it’s important to consider the space you have available, as well as the best spacing and arrangement for the plants you’re going to bed.

If you have a square or rectangular space then you can make a simple calculation to obtain the number of plants required (the supplier or seed pack will guide you to a plant’s ultimate spread). It’s important to allow plenty of space between your plants so they have enough air circulation, which in turn will help to fight diseases. You also want your new plants to thrive so it’s important to make sure that they’re not fighting for water, nutrients, and sunlight - let them grow!

When it comes to planting depth, you need to dig a hole which is no deeper than the roots but is at least three times the diameter of the root system. Carefully lower your plants into your space and use your hands to fill in any gaps using more compost or soil. Your plant needs to be supported, while the roots are below the surface of the soil.

Once planted, you’re going to want to give your bedding a little TLC in the form of water. Newly planted or sown areas tend to be vulnerable to water-stress so you need to make sure that watering them is a priority. If you put your trust in the British weather, you can probably time planting your bedding with a little forecast of rain, but if the sun is out to play, then get the watering can or hose pipe out immediately!

Once your bedding is in place, it’s important to make sure you look after them. Regular watering and monitoring is a must, so make sure you are well equipped to keep your plants hydrated. This will be an everyday task, even when the rain pours, as you want to make sure the compost isn’t bone dry.

It’s also a good idea to keep adding nutrients to ensure your plants flower to their best ability. Using a potassium-based feed will ensure flower growth, while slow-release fertiliser is a great way of making sure your plants never go short of food. Mulching is also a great way of improving your soil conditions. Adding a layer of mulch to the surface of your soil will conserve the moisture whilst reducing weed growth.

Once your flowers have started to bloom, you can also deadhead any wilted flower heads to stop your bedding plants from wasting energy producing seeds. Some varieties of flowers, including Fuchsia, look after themselves, however, other plants will require you to do some basic maintenance.

May is the perfect time to start planting bedding plants - it’s never too late to transform your garden! Just make sure that you’ve considered your outdoor conditions and which plants you’d like to grow. Make sure your soil is well treated and ensure that you leave plenty of space for your plants to grow. More space means that they won’t be fighting for the same supply of water, sunshine and nutrients, so they can grow equally. Once the hard work’s done, grow with the flow and watch your garden bloom!