Bedding plants became incredibly popular in the Victorian era, the traditional landscape which compromised mostly grass and stone were dull and bleak and plant hunters were sent to find varieties of colour to add some interest to gardens. This coincided with the drop of the glass tax which resulted in a surge of glasshouses appearing in private gardens and gardens of the great houses as they frantically started growing bedding plants to ignite colour to their gardens.
Thompson & Morgan Trial Grounds 2010
New bedding plant varieties were discovered and so the craze began, wealthy houses tried to compete with their neighbours to create the most beautiful carpets of colour. Only the most fortunate could afford the material to grow these new varieties and therefore these colourful bedding plant displays became an ornate symbol of the Victorian era. However, due to changes in not only fashion but the lack of labour, bedding plants fell from favour for less formal planting schemes.
To my delight they are on the comeback. There are an incredible amount of bedding plant varieties available today which open the doors to garden creativity. They are no longer restricted to the wealthy and gardeners everywhere are using bedding plants in their gardens. The best part about them is the ability to create a new style every year. You can change or mix up the colour schemes as you please and can use them in beds, borders, hanging baskets, patio containers and to plug gaps in perennial or shrub borders for quick and easy colour. Successional planting requires changing bedding displays twice a year, replanting in late spring (for summer) and early autumn (for winter/spring). For carpet bedding, you need to ensure dense planting. This will not only give you the carpet effect but will also reduce the presence of weeds!
Bedding plants can also be grown from seed although growing bedding plants from plug plants offers a quick and easy solution. Summer bedding plants are sown from February to April; winter and spring bedding plants are sown from May to July for planting out in autumn. Plug plants are dispatched in spring for summer bedding, and late summer for winter bedding. For more information on how to grow bedding plants click here.
TOP TIP: To get the most from your displays you must keep dead-heading as much as you can.
For more information about winter bedding plants click here.
Do you use bedding plants? Where and how do you use them? We would love to hear from you.
Here at Thompson & Morgan we strive to excel in customer service, to be able to provide you with top quality products, expert advice and a no fuss approach to gardening. That being said, we know that there is always room for improvement and this year we have made a few changes and added new lines to help you create your dream gardens.
Quality control is better than ever this year. We have appointed Peter as our Quality control Manager and plants are being triple checked before they are posted to you in our new and improved packaging. So, what do we look for?
2. Healthy foliage
3. Strong root system
4. Moisture levels
Most importantly we ask ourselves ‘Would I be happy to receive this plant?’ If the answer is no then the plant is rejected.
How your plants are packed.
We understand that when you order plants online, there is always some hesitation as you cannot see, feel and pick your own plants. That is why we use specially designed containers to prevent dehydration and protect your plants from any bruises. Before your plants leave, our dedicated staff check to ensure optimal levels of moisture for the plants journey.
Sometimes you may find yourself placing an order for a product that won’t be delivered for another couple of months, or maybe longer. This is because we deliver your plants in top condition and at the optimum time for planting or potting on. Until then, your plants are being carefully looked after by our plantsman until they are ready for despatch. If in doubt, you can always log in to our new my orders service where you can track your order.
With 160 years of horticultural and mail order know-how under our belts, we are now putting our skills to the test by offering you a great range of instant impact plants in larger containers for immediate effect in the garden. We are extremely proud to be able to provide you with a new range of larger plants, all with a track record for hardiness, ease of care and excellent garden performance.
Our range includes a mixture of shrubs and herbaceous perennials for added interest in your garden. Shrubs form the backbone of most garden designs and are used as a backdrop, screen or companions to other plant groups. Herbaceous perennials will return each spring and they require little help so are perfect for low maintenance gardens.
View full range here.
What makes us stand out?
No other UK mail order company can boast their own breeding programme, at Thompson & Morgan we are extremely proud to say we can. Past breeding successes include customer favourites, Foxglove ‘Illumination Pink’ and Cosmos ‘Cupcakes’. Not only that, they have won numerous prestigious awards worldwide too!
There is so much going on with Thompson & Morgan right now and a lot of exciting things to come so do join in the gardening community on our Facebook and Twitter pages and sign up to our email newsletters for special offers.
If you have any suggestions for us on how to improve our service we will be more than happy to hear them, help us help you!
New to buying plants by mail order?
Buddleja ‘Buzz’™ Collection
When I’m on my business travels, or even socializing at a BBQ, some people I speak to often don’t realise you can buy plants through the post. But for those in the know, it’s the only way to buy, as you have access to exclusive plants with world-class performance. In this week’s blog, I’ll explain a bit more about the mystery that is ‘mail order plants’…
Firstly, plants sold in commercial establishments (such as DIY stores) are selected to look good whilst they’re on display, but you’ll find they won’t go on to perform outdoors. Now, I’m not looking for a variety that flowers 2 weeks earlier than another, what I am looking for is continuous, long-lasting performance from something you can’t find elsewhere!
If you’re new to buying young plants, you might think you need a huge greenhouse or flashy equipment, but all you really need is a few pots and a windowsill. By buying young plants, you’re saving on the prices of fully-grown plants, and you can get hold of unique varieties.
If you don’t believe it’s as easy as I say, then you’ll be pleased to know that every single package of plants includes detailed growing instructions. But even if you mislay this information or want to know a bit more, you can always watch our tutorial videos.
Hardy osteospermum collection
I can’t stress enough how important it is to place your order as soon as you can. Many of our varieties are exclusive and sometimes available in limited numbers. An early start with young plants always gives benefits later in the season.
With over 20 years experience, we certainly know how to deliver quality young plants to you by mail order. It’s easy and convenient and we’ve recently re-designed our packaging to fit through most UK letterboxes, so your plants will be fresher than ever!
So, why not give it a go?
Here’s what our customers have to say about the plants they buy from us:
Received my plugs this morning – I’m really impressed with the size and the healthy plants. I will definitely buy again! A. Wallace
Buddleja ‘Buzz’™ Collection
Being a lover of buddleja these plants are perfect as I have a balcony, they flowered last year when I got them and they are going great guns now their second season, excellent size for small spaces, well done T&M. Great plants at a great price. C. Quinton
Plug plants are a convenient and easy way to fill your garden with colour. Although seeds are cheaper to buy, there is often a lot of work involved, from germination to pricking out tiny seedlings. Cuttings also pose the same problem, requiring nurturing undercover for some time and with varying degrees of success. When you buy plug plants, you bypass this difficult stage of growth and receive strong, healthy young plants, raring to grow once potted up or planted into their final positions.
There are plenty of plug plants to choose from but if you need some inspiration take a look at our pick of top ten plug plants for a quick, easy and reliable display. See our How we grow and send your plants page for more information about our plug plant sizes.
Begonias are slow and tricky to raise from seed and Begonia tubers can be expensive if you have lots of space to fill. Begonia plug plants are an easy and economical way of growing Begonias and will quickly fill your containers and baskets with colour! Smaller plug plants are best potted up and grown on but jumbo plugs or garden-ready plug plants can be planted straight into their final containers after all risk of frost has passed. Begonia plants are a fantastic addition to beds, borders, baskets, Flower Pouches® and just about any patio container you can think of! Producing a long-lasting display of bright and showy flowers, Begonia plants keep going until the first frosts.
Petunias can be fiddly to raise from seed but Petunia plug plants are easy to grow on, giving a rewarding display in beds, containers, hanging baskets and Flower Pouches®. Trailing Petunia plants such as the Surfinia varieties are our most popular, but there are plenty of other unusual and eye-catching varieties available! These half-hardy annuals look spectacular spilling from hanging baskets and containers, or massed in flower beds where they will keep going all summer long until the first frosts.
Fuchsias are an essential addition to summer hanging baskets and containers, and some varieties are hardy so can be enjoyed year after year. Fuchsia plants can be raised from cuttings but require over-wintering, taking time and space to look after. For quick results, Fuchsia plug plants are a much easier alternative and trailing Fuchsias can be planted straight into hanging baskets and containers without the need for potting up first. With trailing, climbing and upright varieties available in a mixture of colours, Fuchsias are a fantastic and easy-to-grow addition to beds, borders, hanging baskets, containers and Flower Pouches®.
Dianthus plants, also known as carnations, pinks and sweet Williams, can take a year to flower from seed so for quick and instant results try Dianthus plug plants. Once potted up, Dianthus plugs will quickly start to flower and will come back year after year! These hardy perennials and biennials are cottage garden essentials and perfect for the front of sunny borders where they add a profusion of colour and sweet fragrance. Dianthus flowers are also superb for cutting, lasting many weeks in a vase.
5. Geranium (Pelargonium)
Geranium plants are slow to grow from seed, requiring an early start and many months of nurturing to reach flowering size. As with Fuchsias, Geranium cuttings require over-wintering which takes up lots of space and time. Geranium plug plants are a much easier alternative – their strong growth will quickly fill out beds, hanging baskets and patio containers with clear, vibrant colour. With a range to choose from, including trailing, climbing, upright and unique rosebud varieties you’re sure to find a Pelargonium plant to suit your garden!
Pansy plants and violas, their smaller relatives, give months of pleasure in beds, borders and containers. Winter-flowering pansies inject a welcome splash of colour when most other plants are dormant, making an invaluable addition to autumn, winter and spring container displays. Save yourself the hassle of growing pansies from seed and try growing pansy plug plants for a quick and easy display!
Wallflower plants are a popular cottage garden favourite, valued for their fragrance and range of vibrant colours in the spring. Most often treated as biennials, wallflower seeds need sowing the year before you wish to have flowers, and the seedlings requiring nurturing and potting on through the hottest months of the year. Wallflower plug plants are an easy way to quickly fill your beds, borders and patio containers with low-maintenance colour, taking the hassle away from growing wallflowers from seed. Happy in even the poorest of soils, wallflowers are a versatile and undemanding addition to your garden!
8. Primrose and Polyanthus
Primrose and Polyanthus plants are popular for their bright spring flowers – they’re so easy to grow and provide a reliable display from late winter through to late spring. Primrose plants take a year to flower from seed and the young plants require nurturing and potting on through the hottest months of the year. Primrose and polyanthus plug plants bypass this stage of growth and are a convenient way to fill your beds, borders and patio pots with an array of sparkling colours, often accompanied by a delicate sweet fragrance.
Lobelia plants are tiny when young and take a long time to reach flowering size. Buying Lobelia plug plants saves you the hassle of growing Lobelia from seed. These dainty flowers create a wonderful dense waterfall of colour, softening the edges of container displays and making great fillers in hanging baskets. Flowering all summer long they’re certainly worth adding to your patio displays or bedding schemes.
Tomato plants are one of the most popular vegetable plants to grow, with crops being produced non-stop from mid-summer through until autumn, and with a taste far superior to supermarket tomatoes. We send our tomato plug plants at just the right stage of growth, ready for hardening off and planting out once all risk of frost has passed. With a range of bush and cordon varieties available you can grow tomatoes in greenhouses, vegetable beds, patio containers or even hanging baskets! Take a look at our How to grow tomatoes article for more growing information.
Plug plants – which size is best for you?
It’s all-go in the garden now that the sun has finally decided to make an appearance, but knowing which plug plants to buy can be a bit confusing. They all need different levels of care and, if you’re not sure what you’re buying, you could end up with something that’s not quite what you expected.
Geranium ‘Jackpot’ F1 – perfect in containers
Let’s start with the smallest – the mini-plug and plug plants. These are generally 4-8cm from the compost/root base to the tip of the plant. If you’re buying mini-plugs or plug plants, you will need somewhere frost-free to grow them on. A greenhouse is best, but a cold frame or windowsill will do the trick. Once you’ve grown them on, you can plant them out, either into your beds and borders or hanging baskets and containers. Do keep an eye on the weather forecast – if there’s even a hint of frost, make sure you cover your plants with horticultural fleece to protect them.
Petunia ‘Trailing Surfinia’ Mixed – stunning in hanging baskets
If you haven’t got anywhere to grow these tender plug plants on, don’t despair! Many of Thompson & Morgan’s plants are also available as jumbo plugs or garden-ready plants. As their names suggest, jumbo plug plants and garden-ready plants are bigger – 8-12cm – and can be planted out straight away. It’s always a good idea to have some fleece to hand, just in case a harsh frost is forecast – you’ll give your young plants a much better chance of survival.
Postiplugs – new ‘slimline’ plug plants that fit through most letterboxes
You may also have seen Postiplugs™ in our latest catalogues and online. We wanted to make it easier for plants to be delivered, so we redesigned our larger plug plants so that the packaging would fit through most letterboxes. This means the plants are delivered sooner and arrive fresher – and no more annoying trips to the sorting office for you.
To find out more about the different plant sizes that we sell, please click here to read our ‘How we grow and send your plants’ page.