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A Guide to Bedding Plants

Updated on November 12, 2013
Bedding plants are really all plants that, irrespective of their growing habits, are used to make a temporary show
Bedding plants are really all plants that, irrespective of their growing habits, are used to make a temporary show

As any experienced gardener will tell you, bedding plants are the backbone of the well maintained and beautiful garden. Bedding plants provide the seasonally changing tone of the garden, its underlying color and texture. The other plants in the garden, its perennials, its shrubs and trees, and even the fruits and vegetables, rely on the bedding plants to act as the ground cover that will make them stand out as accents in the overall garden plan. Choosing the right bedding plants for your garden will make all the difference in its appearance.

Some Popular Bedding Plants

  • Ageratums
  • Alyssum
  • Antirrhinum
  • Bedding Dahlias
  • Bedding Geraniums
  • Begonias
  • Busy Lizzies
  • Cirrus
  • Coleus
  • Cosmos
  • Dianthus
  • French marigolds
  • Geranium
  • Godetia
  • Impatiens
  • Lobelia
  • Marigolds
  • Nemesia
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Rudbeckia
  • Salvia
  • Snapdragons
  • Vinca

Kinds of Bedding Plants

Almost any kind of flower or plant can be used as bedding plants. The term bedding plants is defined as flowers or plants that are sold by nurseries or grown in your own greenhouse to their full size and then replanted in your garden. Thus, most nurseries sell bedding plants in plastic or paper trays so that you can purchase a number of bedding plants all at once. You then take these trays of bedding plants to your garden and install them as you see fit in terms of your overall garden design.

Many types of flowers are sold in this manner, including salvias, pansies, marigolds, petunias, violets, and primroses. All of these flowers can be bought in trays and then planted in arrangements that give color and texture to your garden. The interesting thing about bedding plants is that they can be planted easily to quickly change the appearance of your garden. What’s more, many gardeners change the bedding plants in the garden according to season or other gardening plans. Bedding plants can be planted in many interesting patterns and arrangements to make a truly stunning garden.

But bedding plants are good not only for the growing seasons of spring, summer, and fall. Many gardeners utilize hardy bedding plants in the winter to maximize their garden’s use all year long. Such plants as primulus, ornamental cabbages, and kale are used as winter bedding plants to add a healthy dose of color to the garden over the colder months.

Bedding plants can be found in nurseries like this one - the staff should be able to help you find some good flowers.
Bedding plants can be found in nurseries like this one - the staff should be able to help you find some good flowers.

How to Buy Bedding Plants

There are a few things you should keep in mind when buying bedding plants. Following these tips will make sure that the bedding plants you buy are as healthy as they can be and that they will look as beautiful and grow as well as they can. This will save you both time in not having to replace dead bedding plants as well as save you money.

First of all, because bedding plants usually come in trays of many plants, be sure to look through all the plants for any signs of disease, pests, or any kind of stress. It can be easy to miss a couple bedding plants that aren’t as healthy as they could be when you are buying a large tray. However, you want every plant to be in top condition if at all possible. Also, having a few bedding plants that aren’t doing well can be a sign of underlying problems with the plants as a whole. Visible disease in a few plants might turn out to be affecting the whole tray later on.

Thus, look at the leaves for spots, mold, or signs of pests. It is very important to look at the undersides of the leaves on your bedding plants because this is where many pests will hide. Also, check for wilted leaves that might be a sign that the garden center neglected to water the bedding plants at one time or another. Even if the soil in the tray is moist now, the bedding plants could have undergone stress from lack of water earlier. This can make your bedding plants not perform in the garden as well as they should.

If too many of the individual bedding plants or too many trays of the plants have signs of stress or disease, you may want to consider buying your plants elsewhere. The best bedding plants are often those that came right off the truck into the garden center or right out of their greenhouses. These bedding plants have had less of a chance to be under-watered or to develop other problems.

With the right bedding flowers, displays can be made, much like this display at the Chelsea Flower Show.
With the right bedding flowers, displays can be made, much like this display at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Salvia Splendens - a popular plant used for bedding.
Salvia Splendens - a popular plant used for bedding.

Tips for Planting your Bedding Plants

After buying your plants, you will now have the opportunity to plant them in any combination you want. Of course, gardening is a very healthy exercise. It's been show to promote stress relief, better mental health, exercise, brain health, and nutrition in people who do it as a hobby or a regular basis. It helps with creativity, decreases depression, improves memory retention and mood. So even if your garden doesn't turn out exactly the way you would like, you still reap many benefits, which can be it's own reward.


That being said, you still want your garden to look good and thrive under your care! So here are a few tips to ensure you get the best out of your garden.


People use bedding plants for different reasons. Some people plant them together in a close space for a big pop of color. This draws the eye and makes a garden look healthy and vibrant. Others use it to edge the garden, finishing off the look of their gardens and create a definitive line as to where the garden begins and ends. They can also be used along with bulbs and perennials to better bring out the colors.


Of course, bedding plants don't have to be limited to a garden, and even those without a garden or with planters can make use of them. For example, window boxes, containers, and hanging baskets provide an excellent opportunity to test out which flowers go well with each other, and which color combinations work best. They can also be used to fill in between the rocky areas in a path or a garden.


When it comes to how to best grow your bedding plants, you'll want to use compost, superphosphate, or bonemeal in your soil to give your plants a good head start. Make sure to give your seedlings a good soaking before planting, as well as the area you intend to plant. When planting, make sure that the day is not hot, or that you plant well in the morning. This will ensure the plants don't get dehydrated upon planting and helps to avoid shock. Handle the seedling gently by trying not to handle them at all - remove and place your seedlings by the soiled root ball, not by yanking it out by the leaves or stem.


Once planted, keep the hydration up by watering each plant well - roots take best when they are moist. This will need to be continued until the plants are established. Then you can water as needed.

Do you have a favorite bedding plant?

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      Millicent 3 years ago

      You mean I don't have to pay for expert advice like this anym?reo!

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