Spring bedding plants are easy to grow from seed but there's no time to waste in sowing them now!
What to sow
- Most spring-flowering bedding plants are biennials. This means that they grow their leaves in the first year and flower in the second. Usually, they die after flowering and need replacing.
- The easiest and arguably the most rewarding are wallflowers. They provide a superb colourful show and are also very strongly scented.
- Brompton stocks also have a great scent and a soft pastel colour range in spring.
- Sweet Williams are equally easy to grow but flower a little later. An added bonus is that taller varieties provide great cut flowers to bring into the house.
- Forget-me-nots provide bright and cheerful plants for the edge or very front of a border.
Forget me not
- Bellis daisies, which are most showy when double-flowered, are making a comeback. They can be planted as a border edging or in containers.
If you're interested in what to sow now for winter colour, you can check out this other article!
How to sow
- For these spring-flowering bedding plants, you won't need pots, trays and special compost.
- Simply sow them thinly in the garden soil.
- You don't have to sow them where you want them to flower, but perhaps a gap in your vegetable patch or some well-cultivated garden soil in a flower border.
- You can then transplant them into their flowering positions in September and October.
- Choose a patch of soil you can thoroughly cultivate to create a fine tilth - soil with no stones or large lumps of soil.
- Draw out a shallow trench - check the depth required on the seed packet.
Make a drill with a draw hoe
- Make sure that the soil is moist and, if it's not, water it well with a watering can with a fine rose on the spout. This is a good time to have a quick mug of tea or coffee so that the water soaks in before you get sowing.
Wet the soil well before sowing
- Thinly sow your seeds into the trench. Incidentally, this is often called a 'drill' rather than a trench.
- Lightly cover your seeds by backfilling the drill. Firm it down using more water or with the back of a rake.
- The water helps to lower the soil temperature during summer, and this will give you better germination.
- It might be necessary to water your young seedlings again after they have emerged from the soil. This will depend on what kind of summer we get!
- If the seedlings are crowded, you will get better growth if you thin them so that there is a minimum of 5-6 cms between each plant.
A Sweet William bloom with butterfly
- Weeding will certainly be necessary and try to remove them before they get too big.
- Some gardeners pinch the tops out of their wallflower plants to encourage bushy growth. Personally, I think that this is unnecessary. At one time I grew over 100,000 plants per annum, which would have taken a very long time to pinch out!
- When the seedlings emerge, wallflowers can be troubled by flea beetles. They feed on the first leaves and can significantly reduce plant vigour.
- There are chemical controls for flea beetles (check for the currently recommended available product), but if you keep your seedlings growing well and make certain that they are never short of water they can quickly grow away from attack. Covering with a fine-mesh insect-proof net may be worth trying.
- In most of the UK and Ireland, plants can be transplanted into their flowering positions right up to the beginning of November.
- However, there is no doubt that early planting into beds and containers results in a better show in spring.
- Plant into thoroughly cultivated soil and incorporate a general fertiliser in as you cultivate. I use Vitax Q4.
- Water your plants in well.
- This group of plants are rarely troubled by slugs and snails.
Mix it up!
- These spring-flowering bedding plants look fantastic with spring-flowering bulbs! Tall tulips are the most popular choice but daffodilswork too.
Double flowered tulips with wallflowers
- For shorter plants such as forget-me-not and Bellis, try planting sweetly scented hyacinth bulbs for a spectacular display!
Don't delay sowing these easily grown and inexpensive spring flowering bedding plants now!