Bedding Plants

Friday, 21 April 2006

Bedding plants add an instant splash of colour to any garden. They can be planted in hanging baskets, containers or in mixed borders. Cost and know-how (or lack thereof) may hold your green thumb back, so we find out more about what to look for in a bedding plant.

The Basics

  • The freshness of the plants is key. Ask when new shipments arrive. If plants are on sale, they’re likely older stock.

  • Though annuals are common bedding plants (and may be deeply discounted if they’re not fresh) try to resist spending a lot on them since they only last one season.

  • Perennials, on the other hand, come back every year, so they may cost a bit more than annuals, but think of it as a long term investment. Just make sure it’s still healthy.

  • If you can, look at the roots to find out if the plant is healthy. They should be a solid white colour.

  • Take a peek at the roots at the store, if the plant is easy to take out of the pot. If it’s root-bound, it means the plant is old.

  • Avoid plants with brown and mushy roots, which means the plant is rotting and will likely die.

  • Make sure you take a good look at the area you want to plant first. Figure out how much sun or shade it gets, whether it’s exposed to wind, and how fertile the soil is. Then read the little tags in each plant to ensure you’re buying the right type for the area.

  • You also want to figure out what zone you’re in so that you’re buying plants that will be hardy over the winter. If you’re not sure, ask at the nursery. Most carry plants that are suitable for the area anyway.

  • For container gardening, choose a soil mix specifically created for a planter. One with pearlite (the little white bits) helps with drainage and is lighter, so easier to move planters around.

  • You can buy plants in various stages of growth: in cell packs, 4” pots, or larger containers.

Other Considerations

  • Water plants regularly in summer. Plants in containers and hanging baskets need particular watering attention in dry, hot weather. (As much as twice a day.)

  • Water in the morning for healthier plants. Watering at night means leaves may be wet during the night, which may promote rot.

  • Remove dead flowers regularly to encourage new ones to grow.



We tested Impatiens and Lavatera, both annuals in three different stages of growth to compare which progresses the best. We tested:

  • Cell pack: Impatiens $1.49; Lavatera $1.49
  • 4″ pots: Impatiens $2.49; Lavatera$2.99
  • 1 gallon pot: Impatiens: $5.99; Lavatera $9.99

Growing Test

  • The cell packs definitely had the largest amount of growth, which is not surprising since they were the smallest to begin with.

  • The 4” pots gave instant gratification of flowers and were worth the extra dollar for Kristina.

  • The gallon containers were a little expensive by our standards. Plus, in annuals, you’re actually buying an older plant, which may not last as long as its smaller counterparts.


We are fans of the cell packs for their price and we enjoyed seeing the plants grow over time. We also liked the 4” pots for more instant flowery gratification at just a dollar more. With a little patience, the smaller, less expensive options fill out nicely.


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