What do you do with bedding plants?

It depends entirely what size bedding plants you buy.

Smaller plants more effort but cheaperIt is always a decision between cost and effort.

Smaller bedding plants are cheaper, so you can have more, but need to be grown on.

There are intermediate stages that need some growing on before putting out.

Garden ready plants are the most expensive and can be just put straight out into the beds and borders in your garden. They take least effort.

The smaller the plants the earlier they are sent out. As many are not frost hardy you need somewhere sheltered from frost to grow them on. A greenhouse is ideal, or a conservatory or a cold frame will do.

Plant sizes

Plug plants are 4-8cm in height from the root of the plant to the top of the stem

Garden Ready plants are 6-10cm in height from the root of the plant to the top of the stem.

Super garden ready are 7-11cm in height from the root of the plant to the top of the stem.

Jumbo ready plants are 8-12cm in height from the root of the plant to the top of the stem


What to do with your plants?


When your bedding plants arrive you need to follow a few simple instructions.

1. Keep them in their trays indoors. Find a well lit but draught free space for 24 hours.

2. Check to see if the compost is a dry. If it is then stand the tray in shallow water.
If you don't have a tray big enough (and growbag trays from the greenhouse are really useful for this) then gently spray water lightly over the tray but allow the leaves to dry - so have a window open perhaps.

3. When the compost is damp drain off any excess water so they are not sat with wet roots.

4. Any loose compost or tired leaves from their travel can be discarded. It doesn't affect the plants. If leaves are snapped partly off then remove them entirely.

5. For garden ready or super jumbo stage skip straight to the planting out section. Growing on is optional!

The Growing on stage

1. You need to water the plants a couple of hours before potting them on. This is something you should do with all plants you are transplanting whether from a pot to a bigger pot or to the garden.

2. Remove the plants from the tray carefully. You might need help gently squeezing the tray or pushing up from underneath using something like a pencil or a finger. Be careful though as to not damage the roots.

3. Move the plants one by one into new pots or seed trays filled with good purpose multi purpose compost. If you put them into new pots then they should be an inch or so bigger than the ones they are in currently. You can pot them into 3 inch pots if you have these. If you have trays to hold them together it makes it easier moving them around and for when you carry them out to the garden.
You can use trays of soil but leave plenty of space around them so the roots don't get too tangled up as you'll need to separate them out when you plant them out.

4. Once the plants are in their new pots or trays you need to water then.
Water carefully at this stage. In cooler weather you do not want to over water the plants as they can get easily damaged by the cold or start to rot. Drain them and remove excess water from trays. You do not need to water every day and infact can probably safely leave it for about a week. If the compost gets too dry it can be harder to water but the plants should be ok.

5. Keep the potted up plants in a warm well-lit area although avoid direct sunlight. A conservatory or night heated greenhouse is a good place. If it's cold during the day you can cover them with a piece of fleece material and make sure they are heated at night to avoid the frost damaging them.

6. Use a good quality liquid fertiliser after 2-3 weeks. Seaweed fertiliser is easy to store in the house and simple to dilute. Do not be tempted to use at a higher strength than recommended.

7. Important - keep them frost free! They will be seriously damaged by frost - and can be killed. It will certainly restrict their growth.

Planting out your bedding plants

1. Once the risk of frost has passed your half-hardy bedding plants can be planted outside. Hardy plants can be planted out earlier.

2. Make sure you harden off your plants prior to planting out
You do this by taking them out every day and bringing them in at night for at least a week and preferably more. Don't be frighted to delay putting them out if the weather is very bad. They don't grow well in cold weather and it's always a shock to their systems so they will do better holding off for a day or two.

3. Again follow the golden rule of watering your plants a couple of hours before you plant them out.

4. Plant firmly at the appropriate distance apart. Normally this is between 9-12 inche dependent on the plant. Planting too close together means they don't have enough space, light and water around them to grow well.
Hanging baskets can have more plants planted closer together but this is because you prepare the soil especially well and feed weekly to get great results.

5. Water the plants every day for about a week and then only during dry periods or when it's very hot. Don't water them in sunshine though as this might scald the leaves and damage the plants. Also water will evaporate quicker during the heat of the day so wait until the cooler evening to water your garden.

6. If the weather is crazy and we get a frost forecast after the normal date then don't be afraid to cover them up with a sheet of agricultural fleece. Any June frost is unlikely to be really hard (Famous last words I know) so a fleece covering should really make the difference.


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