Summer bedding so colourful
GARDEN centres are joyous places in June. Full of life and full of colour. Nowhere is more colourful than the bedding plant areas. Even the tiniest plants seem desperate to display a flower. June is probably the best month to plant bedding in your pots, baskets, troughs and even, although now somewhat unfashionable into the soil in your borders. May quite frequently serves up some quite rough days. Cold , wind and heavy rain are all a hazard to small delicate polytunnel grown bedding.
These days plants are rarely hardened off by nurseries, it just isn’t financially viable. Hardening off is a term that means to expose a plant to outside conditions during the day for a week or so but then taking them back under cover at night. This may be neccessary in May but by June you are safe to plant straight out into your chosen location.
For that reason I never plant out any bedding, annuals or woody perennials like Fuchsia and Agryranthermum [ Marguerite daisy] until June. The paradox to this is that come November or sometimes right through the winter some of these so called bedding plants survive and continue to flower in our climate. This is however because they are hardened gradually to the cold rather than being plonked straight out into it.
The array of bedding plant varieties today if staggering. The old favourites like Lobelia, Bizzie Lizzie and marigolds are still selling well along side an ever increasing selection of patio plants. Bacopa white and pink, Bidens yellow, Laurentia blue and every colour of Marguerite daisy red, pink, yellow, and white, single, semi and double flowered.
Summer bedding allows you to run riot with hot colours and colour clashes. I personally like only cool pure white in pots and baskets but there is something endearing about having your senses shocked by oranges, purples, yellows and flame reds all in the same scheme. Don’t let anyone including myself tell you you have got it wrong. If it’s working for you then that is enough, others can divert their eyes if they so wish. In fact I think summer bedding is the best way to use these colourful shock tactics, they look better in a small condensed area rather than throughout a whole border say. If all this is getting a little heated for you then add a little white here and there to cool things down a bit.
What ever your preference colour wise all plants that have a long flowering season and are also fast growing, like bedding plants, are also hungry feeders. Most composts will only feed a plant for three to four weeks. I usually incorporate a handful of growmore or such like to the compost before filling pots and baskets. Even with this additional fertiliser I would still recommend liquid feeding once a week after three or four weeks.
Regular watering is also vital. Early in June watering every few days may be sufficient but come mid July you may find that watering once a day is not enough to stop baskets and small pots drying out. If you are planting into soil in flower borders dig the soil well and incorporate compost to create a soft light tilth to allow the roots of your plants to get quickly establish. No plants like compaction in soil conditions but particularly plants that are in a hurry like bedding plants will just shut up shop and sit defiantly refusing to grow.
Planting summer bedding maybe the only little bit of gardening some people do throughout the year, everyone likes a pot at the front door, and for that reason we should rejoice in the humble annual and welcome the one off gardeners to the garden party. Whether its psychedelic colours you’re after or if like me you like to think you are a little more sophisticated than you really are and want to play with pastilles, go out and have fun with bedding plants.