SUMMER BEDDING PLANTS

Summer bedding plantsColor is the first thing that catches the eye in a garden, and is achieved by the clever use of summer bedding plants.

Even though we’re keeping water usage to a minimum, we can still create a colorful impression with a few well-placed pockets of annuals.

In spring and summer, our nurseries are bursting with tempting varieties of seedlings, but before you go shopping, plan what you want to plant, and prepare your soil. This should be done at least one week prior to planting.

Remove all weeds and other rubbish from the bed. Generously spread well-rotted compost over the area, and a handful of bone-meal or super phosphate per square meter. Work well into the soil, rake and level the ground then water with a watering can.

The seedlings that you choose from your nursery, must be strong and healthy.

Make sure that the stems are not blemished or discolored and that the roots generally are not overgrown The leaves should grow right down near the base of the stem and the plant color should be a good, uniform green.

Modern hybrid seedlings are bred to flower early, so if they’re blooming when you buy them it doesn’t mean that they are past their prime.

Give your nurseryman the approximate size of the area in which you wish to plant, and he’ll advise you about the quantity of seedlings and the spacing.

After planting, remember to mulch your plants. Apart from conserving precious water, mulching will protect their tender young roots.

All bedding plants need regular root and foliar feeding. A liquid fertilizer or a soluble, granular preparation can be used. Mix in a watering can and with just a little care, you’ll have a great summer garden!

Seedlings should not be planted too deeply, nor in straight lines like a row of soldiers. Rather do staggered planting. Should you find that one of your plants is root-bound, very gently loosen the soil around the roots before planting.

Slugs and snails are dangerous pests for young seedlings. Scatter bait between the plants or place a saucer of beer on the ground.

The CHRYSANTHEMUMS MULTICAULE and PALADOSUM do best in full sun.

For more height, try NICOTIANAS in a range of colors.

GERANIUMS are ideal for prettying up containers and once established require little water. Dead-heading is essential for repeat flowering.

Old fashioned VIOLAS will flower well in summer, but do need to be grown in only partial sun.

IMPATIENS and BEGONIAS are the two most popular summer bedding plants for morning sun or light shade. They’ll flower right through to the first frosts, provided they’re cut back after Christmas.

White, grey and silver plants do an excellent job of bringing out the best in other colors.

PETUNIAS are truly a “rainbow” plant -they’re available in all possible shadings! They don’t like wet feet, so make sure the soil is well-drained. In summer rainfall areas, plant PETUNIAS before the rains start.

Yellow MARIGOLDS certainly create sunshine in the garden, and look good when planted next to AGERATUM. Several varieties of varying heights are available that will bloom over a long period, provided they’re dead-headed.

DIANTHUS, a most worthwhile perennial bedding plant, grows in pretty clusters of three or four flowers to a stem. Some strains are plain others have a contrasting colored center.