Much of Britain was basking in temperatures of over 20°C last week, meaning the danger of frost has passed and it’s time to get outside and plant your garden for summer. Online garden centre Plant Me Now has worked closely with the best breeders of summer bedding plants to find varieties with brighter colours, longer flowering times and better weather tolerance. After trialling thousands of varieties, the best 150 are now available to buy online. Plant Me Now’s gardening consultant, Tim Milward, gives his top five tips for getting the most from your bedding plants:
1. Bedding plants are a great way to add instant colour to a garden as they're low-cost, fast-growing and have long flowering periods. At the end of the season, replace them with winter flowering bedding for a colourful outdoor space all year round.
2. Summer bedding plants make great gap fillers in flowerbeds but also work brilliantly in hanging baskets and containers where you can mix a combination of upright and trailing varieties. Adding a taller plant like a fuchsia or dahlia as a centrepiece creates a great focal point, while mixing bright, bold, large flowers with smaller, subtler lighter flowers gives a stunning effect.
3. Attract bees and butterflies by choosing brightly coloured, large flowering bedding plants. Bees like to get to the centre of the flower so avoid 'double' flowers and plant bedding with 'daisy-like' flowers instead. Bright orange and yellow flowers attract pests like aphids, so planting marigolds or nasturtiums on an allotment will draw aphids away from your valuable vegetable plants.
4. Water bedding plants first thing in the morning or early evening to ensure you avoid watering in bright sunlight. Deadhead regularly and remove faded flowers – this way nutrients the plants are taking in will be used to produce new flowers rather than feeding finished ones. Choosing a food that's high in potash will help promote flowering, while nitrogen will encourage the plants to get large and bushy. Get quick results by feeding regularly with a liquid or soluble feed, or use a slow-release feed once at the beginning of the season.
5. Most bedding plants will have been grown in greenhouses from around March. The low light levels this year have caused flowers to be a little late and if the greenhouse is unheated then growth may be behind by a few weeks. Don’t panic if you have no flowers yet – a week or two of June sunshine should easily help the plants catch up if they’re behind.
Tim adds: “At Plant Me Now we've put together a range of ready-to-plant summer bedding plants that are going to perform fantastically, including varieties that are now available in the UK for the very first time. All ‘premium’ ranges arrive in a 7cm pot and are ready to burst into flower right away. Unlike traditional plug plants, our 'must have' range are grown in a glued plug – this helps hold the compost together and protect delicate roots while retaining water for longer so they arrive with customers in the same condition they were sent out.”
If you need advice on what to choose for your garden, Plant Me Now’s team of horticultural experts can help you find the right plants by phone, email, Facebook or Twitter – visit www.plantmenow.co.uk for more information.
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