Find the latest gardening news on the T&M blog. From pumpkins to potatoes, we’ve got it covered!

Hanging basket habits revealed

Nurserymans Choice Hanging Basket Mixed Collection from T&M

A vibrant display of hanging baskets can make your garden in summer pop!
Image: Nurserymans Choice Hanging Basket Mixed Collection from T&M

A recent Thompson & Morgan survey has revealed some surprising habits, when it comes to summer hanging baskets.

Love them or loathe them, nothing sets up the garden for summer like a vibrant display of hanging baskets. Thompson & Morgan, the UK’s leading mail order supplier of seasonal hanging basket plants, asked the nation’s gardeners how they use hanging baskets to best effect. The findings were most interesting…


Suffolk train stations back in bloom

Ipswich Station Thompson Morgan, ActivLives' gardeners and Jackie Station Manager at Ipswich

The T&M team, ActivLives’ gardeners and station manager Jackie at Ipswich Train Station

Colour has returned to Ipswich and Stowmarket train stations thanks to a partnership between train operator Abellio Greater Anglia, local seed and plant specialist Thompson & Morgan and Ipswich-based charity ActivLives.

In a repeat of last year’s amazing hanging basket displays, volunteers and young learners from ActivLives have been busy growing baskets of Thompson & Morgans’ best selling Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’. This year they’ve added Begonia ‘Fragrant Falls’ to the mix, to provide scent as well as colour to the platforms.

Begonia 'Fragrant Falls' & Begonia 'Fragrant Falls' at Ipswich Station

Begonia ‘Fragrant Falls’ & Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’ from T&M at Ipswich Station

Not only will the baskets brighten up the journeys of everyone who passes through the stations on the London to Norwich mainline, the project has provided local young people with valuable horticultural experience. Participants from a number of organisations, including WS Training, Talent Match and Seetec, took part in training programmes at ActivLives’ two garden projects in Ipswich to gain skills for work.

The ActivLives team planted up the baskets back in April. They have since tended the Begonia blooms at the glasshouses in the walled garden at Chantry Park, bringing them into peak condition for display at the train stations.

Ipswich Station Thompson Morgan with ActivLives' gardeners

Ipswich Train Station with Thompson & Morgan Blooms

Thompson & Morgan’s Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord said:

“We were pleased with last year’s baskets, but ActivLives has outperformed themselves this year, with bigger and better baskets for real impact. Planted in incredicompost® and fed with incredbloom® at planting time, these baskets look stunning and will continue to perform right through to autumn. Requiring minimal care from station staff – spent flowers simply fall off to be replaced by fresh new blooms. The addition of Begonia ‘Fragrant Falls’ should really lift the spirits of workers on their daily commute and provide a warm welcome for visitors and tourists passing through both stations.”

For help and information on growing and caring for your own begonias, visit our hub page for a wealth of resources.

Growing a fuchsia standard

Fuchsia 'Angela' from Thompson & Morgan

Standard fuchsias such as ‘Angela’ adds height & colour to your garden.
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Growing a fuchsia standard is a great way to show off these elegant, jewel-coloured flowers while adding height and colour to your border. Also ideal for containers, standard fuchsias make a statement on your patio, balcony or positioned either side of your front door. Here’s how to train your own fuchsia plants into striking standards.

What is a fuchsia standard?

Fuchsia ‘Elma’ (hardy) (standard) from T&M

Ideal for containers, fuchsia standards should be overwintered in a frost-free position
Image: Fuchsia ‘Elma’ (hardy) (standard) from Thompson & Morgan

Fuchsia standards have a clear main stem topped with a dense, round head of foliage. Created through pinch pruning, they make superb specimen plants. However patience is required as it can take up to 18 months of careful training to achieve the lollipop style shape required. Here’s how to get yours started:

  • Allow a young fuchsia stem to grow upright, whilst removing all the side shoots as they develop. Don’t remove the leaves from the main stem, as these will feed the plant.
  • Tie the main stem to a cane to provide support as it grows.
  • Once the fuchsia plant reaches 20cm (8″) taller than the desired height, pinch out the stem tip.
  • New side shoots will be produced at the top of the plant and these will form the head of the standard. Pinch out the tips of each side shoot when it produces 2 to 4 sets of leaves. Continue pinch pruning until a rounded head has formed.
  • The leaves on the main stem will be shed naturally over time, or can be carefully removed.
  • To overwinter standard fuchsias, they should be moved to a frost-free position during the winter months to protect their vulnerable stem from frost damage, regardless of how hardy the variety is.

Check out our fuchsia hub page for more information and links to online resources about growing and caring for your fuchsias.

Author: Sue Sanderson


Bedding plants – a revival

Begonia elatior 'Frivola Pink'

Begonia ‘Frivola Pink’ looks great in beds, borders, or in patio containers
Image: Thompson & Morgan

If you enjoyed watching ‘The Great British Garden Revival’ then you’ll be aware of Christine Walkden’s passionate campaign to bring back ornamental bedding plants. The magnificent displays often seen at grand country houses like Waddesdon Manor and seaside towns like Eastbourne are still incredibly popular.

Descended from the Victorians’ love of the art of ornamental bedding, these “eye-catching displays were the gardening ‘bling’ of yesteryear,” explained Christine. Here’s how to stage your own mini-revival, using the latest cutting-edge bedding plants bred for size, colour, disease-resistance and longevity.

The evolution of bedding plants

Gardening news - Great British Garden Revival

Michael Perry and Christine Walkden talk ornamental bedding in T&M’s trial grounds

As part of Christine’s Revival of Ornamental Bedding, she visited Thompson & Morgan’s trial grounds to meet with product development manager, Michael Perry. T&M’s trial grounds are home to over 500 new types of plants. This is where the company tests whether new plants are true to type, and where new varieties are grown and compared to existing ones to track and monitor improvements.

Despite new varieties becoming available each year, T&M finds that traditional plants continue to be most popular. Michael says that “people recognise the names and know that they’ll work in their gardens, but we’d really like people to move towards newer varieties that perhaps perform better, or have better disease resistance.”

Michael explains that Marigold ‘Jesters Mixed’ is a great example of this: “It’s so much bigger than the traditional one – you get much more plant for your money. It stops the weeds coming through, so it’s a natural weed suppressant. It also mulches the ground, so you’ll need to water a lot less as you’re covering the ground naturally and won’t have so much bare soil that needs to be maintained.

Breeding disease-resistant bedding plants

Busy Lizzie ‘Divine Mixed’ from T&M

Busy Lizzie ‘Divine’ quickly covers beds and borders
Image: Busy Lizzie ‘Divine Mixed’ from Thompson & Morgan

A few years ago, the UK’s best selling annual bedding plant, the Busy Lizzie, was struck down and destroyed by an epidemic. The disease was ‘downy mildew’, an airborne disease that most of the common Walleriana Busy Lizzies were susceptible to. It was so bad that this former stalwart of British bedding that sold almost 35m plants a year was removed from garden centres nationwide. Michael Perry said, “the plants literally melted and were unrecoverable, so the only solution was to grow resistant varieties.

In answer to the problem, T&M developed Busy Lizzie ‘Divine’ which has completely different genetics to traditional Busy Lizzies. It was bred to produce bigger and better flowers, and to be more resilient to all sorts of weather conditions – hot, dry, wet or cold. “It really is a ‘super Busy Lizzie’. The traditional varieties prefer shade, but ‘Divine’ loves both sun and shade, making it even more versatile,” according to Michael.

Bedding plants bred for performance

Begonia semperflorens 'Lotto Mixed' from Thompson & Morgan

New and improved begonias like ‘Lotto Mixed’ flower right through until October
Image: Begonia semperflorens ‘Lotto Mixed’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you want to revive the ornamental bedding display in your garden, T&M is continually cultivating new varieties that are cheaper and easier to grow. Here are Michael’s top tips for new and improved versions of popular plants suitable for any sized garden…


The traditional bedding begonia semperflorens ‘Organdy’ has blooms that never fully open, stunted growth, and it isn’t really weatherproof. However, begonia ‘Lotto’ (image above) delivers much bigger plants, spreads into landscape-style growth, has large clear flowers and leaves like water lily pads, and is happy in any weather.

Antirrhinum vs Penstemon

Annual antirrhinums die down to the ground every year. The traditional snapdragons are lovely and pretty, but they don’t flower for long. A good alternative is a perennial hardy penstemon, such as ‘Wedding Bells’, which flowers for a staggering 5-6 months. This variety is also really tough and resilient in the garden.


Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’, also known as Peruvian lily, flowers for 5-6 months and hosts lovely bronze foliage. The plants are compact with an upright habit, yet still produce stems which are a good length for cutting.


Gerberas are very exciting, and brand new breeding brings us gerbera ‘Sweet Collection’. Growing gerberas outside was unthinkable 10 years ago, yet modern breeding has enabled varieties like this to be grown in the border all year round. This variety is hardy down to -10C and the plants will come back every year with lovely big, florist quality, daisy-like blooms, which are twice the size of other hardy gerbera flowers.

A revival really is taking place, bedding is changing and your choices are much wider than they used to be. There’s no limit to what you can do with ornamental bedding. Visit our hub page for begonia growing and care information. For more bedding recommendations and tips to create a fantastic display, head over to our bedding plant hub.

Our Spring 2021 Top 10 Preview!

Thompson & Morgan Lead the Way this Season with their Spring 2021 Top 10 Preview!

Thompson & Morgan introduce their top 10 new varieties which represent the best of the best this spring. Here you will find exciting World and UK Exclusives, stunning breakthroughs in breeding developed under T&M’s own breeding programme, as well as award winning varieties, much improved customer favourites and those stand out varieties set to be this season’s must have plants for this year’s spring garden.

Thompson & Morgan’s Spring 2021 Top 10 Preview
Petunia 'Mystical Midnight Gold' and Geranium 'Tall, Dark & Handsome Hot Pink' ®Thompson & Morgan

Petunia ‘Mystical Midnight Gold’ and Geranium ‘Tall, Dark & Handsome Hot Pink’ ®Thompson & Morgan

Petunia ‘Mystical Midnight Gold’

Introducing UK Exclusive Petunia ‘Mystical Midnight Gold’ a breeding breakthrough and first of its kind, providing unique summer colour and perfect for UK growing!

Unique summer colour
This striking petunia features brand new and unique coloured blooms in shades of creamy yellow with contrasting, rich dark black centres, producing a profusion of flowers to provide fabulous summer displays, a standout hanging basket or container feature perfect for adding drama to the patio.

Perfect for UK growing
Unlike a lot of larger petunia varieties which can be left looking a little bedraggled after a heavy downpour, the petite blooms of ‘Mystical Midnight Gold’ stand it in good stead when the rain comes in making it perfect for UK growing! This versatile variety is happy growing in sun or part shade and brings a profusion of flowers from June to September providing four months of summer long colour for borders, baskets and patio pots.

Geranium ‘Tall, Dark & Handsome Hot Pink’

Thompson & Morgan lead the way with this next World Exclusive and it certainly lives up to its name being tall, dark and very handsome!

Geraniums come of age with new Geranium ‘Tall, Dark & Handsome Hot Pink’ as it climbs to the top to take its place in T & M’s top ten preview. A result of over ten years of breeding by Thompson & Morgan’s own breeding programme sees this new geranium is growing up!

Geraniums are an ever-popular favourite in the summer garden and a consistent bestseller for T&M, so they wanted to bring a Geranium with a point of difference to the market. Having been bred to grow up with a narrow, upright columnar habit makes it perfectly suited to grow up a Tower Pot – three plants in a tower will provide an impressive climbing display on the patio. Featuring stunning hot pink blooms and chocolate coloured foliage it’s sure to stand out in the crowd! Producing flowers from June to October and perfect grown in a pot in both sun and part shade.

Sunflower ‘Sunbelieveable™ Golden Girl’, Sweet Pea ‘Three Times As Sweet’ and Geum ‘Samba Sunset’ ©Thompson & Morgan

Sunflower ‘Sunbelieveable™ Golden Girl’, Sweet Pea ‘Three Times As Sweet’ and Geum ‘Samba Sunset’ ©Thompson & Morgan

Sunflower ‘Sunbelieveable™ Golden Girl’

Another World Exclusive sees brand new Sunflower ‘Sunbelieveable™ Golden Girl’ land a top ten spot in the spring preview and seeing is believing, so see for yourself!

Another triumph of T&M’s own breeding programme which follows on from the success of customer favourite ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, which achieved third in 2018’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year competition.

A real ‘Golden Girl’ with every plant producing over a staggering 1,000 blooms in each growing season! Rightly so T&M are delighted to have introduced this prolific sunflower this season. A super producing hybrid producing flowers from June to November bringing months of sunshine colour to the summer garden. Being low maintenance makes it easy to grow it will bask in full sun in borders and pots and will even forgive a forgotten watering.

Sweet Pea ‘Three Times As Sweet’

Introducing Sweet Pea ‘Three Times As Sweet’ this high flier will fill both garden and home with its triple colour combination and delectable scent!

T&M introduces a further World Exclusive, with ten years of breeding this sweet pea really delivers on every front! A truly beautifully scented sweet pea and the World’s first, a cultivated modern grandiflora tricolour stripe boasts with three colours on one bloom! These fragrant frillies are perfect to grow in full sun in borders and pots throughout the garden and will cover walls or fences with ease, whilst providing a wonderfully scented cut flower for the vase too.

Peter Freeman, Thompson & Morgan’s Product Development Manager, said:
‘I grew ‘Three Times As Sweet’ in my garden this year and was blown away by not only it’s performance but the blooms were the most stunning of any sweet pea I’ve ever grown.’

Geum ‘Samba Sunset’

World Exclusives keep coming from T&M with the introduction of Geum ‘Samba Sunset’ with its supreme, super-sized flowers!

The breeding here brings further improvement on a much love gardener’s favourite ‘Samba Sunset’ with its giant double blooms spanning 7-8cm – double the size of other varieties!
This hardy perennial has a long flowering period from June through to August, growing in sun or part shade it’s a standout new variety for both garden borders and pots on the patio.

Other highlights from T&M‘s Top Ten Preview

Monarda ‘Electric Neon Pink’, Petunia Frills & Spills ‘Darcey Rosa’ © and Camellia ‘1001 Summer Nights’ Jasmine <br />©Walter Blom / Visions BV, Netherlands, ©Thompson & Morgan and ©De Jong Plant BV/ Visions BV, Netherlands

Monarda ‘Electric Neon Pink’, Petunia Frills & Spills ‘Darcey Rosa’ © and Camellia ‘1001 Summer Nights’ Jasmine
©Walter Blom / Visions BV, Netherlands, ©Thompson & Morgan and ©De Jong Plant BV/ Visions BV, Netherlands

Monarda ‘Electric Neon Pink’

Monarda ‘Electric Neon Pink’ its nectar rich bright blooms will have pollinating insects flocking as well as those looking for pops of colour for their summer garden.

Its Intense pink blooms produce a two-tone effect because of their sheer brightness, it’s no surprise bees and butterflies find it totally irresistible and if that wasn’t enough it packs a mint scented foliage too! This hardy perennial is happy in sun or part shade, filling the garden borders and pots with its brilliant blooms from July through to September.

Petunia Frills & Spills ‘Darcey Rosa’

Further introductions include Petunia Frills & Spills ‘Darcey Rosa’ yet another brand-new summer sensation from T&M!

This new addition to the incredibly popular Frills & Spills range is sure to be hit in the summer garden being colourful and easy to grow. ‘Darcey Rosa’ is the very first double petunia with a unique picotee edge – its purple-pink blooms are edged with a contrasting green and pop against its vibrant foliage. Having been bred for the British climate makes its resilient flowers completely weather tolerant!

Grow this striking Petunia in full sun – it’s easy to grow and makes a gorgeous addition perfect for growing in window boxes, baskets or pots.

World Exclusive – Camellia ‘1001 Summer Nights’ Jasmine

World Exclusives keep coming! Camellia ‘1001 Summer Nights’ Jasmine opens the door to the never seen before, this camelia puts on quite a show to provide a midsummer day’s dream garden!

With Camellias normally limited to the spring months for flowering this introduction sees this ground-breaking new summer flowering variety from T&M blowing those typical expectations clean out the window!

A breath-taking breakthrough in Camellia breeding!

This handsome evergreen is a real breeding breakthrough! Bred in China by Mr. Gao Jiyin, who has worked with camellia for over 50 years, with his colleagues Mr. Zhao Qiangmin and Mr. Liu Xinkai.

Unlike most Camellias, which flower in spring, this extraordinary new variety is at its best in the middle of summer! The ruffled, rosette blooms are borne continuously from May to October, bringing an exotic feel to the garden. Camellia ‘1001 Summer Nights’ Jasmine is neat and compact, making it ideal for planting in patio containers. Thriving in sun or part-shade, it makes a useful shrub for providing year-round interest and colour in the garden.

Peter Freeman, Thompson & Morgan’s Product Development Manager, said: ‘I was really taken aback by this breakthrough; plants were covered in flower right through the summer!’

Further highlights include…

Cortaderia 'Tiny Pampa' ©Visions BV, Netherlands and Sedum Sunsparkler 'Dream Dazzler'

Cortaderia ‘Tiny Pampa’ ©Visions BV, Netherlands and Sedum Sunsparkler ‘Dream Dazzler’

Cortaderia ‘Tiny Pampa’ the World’s first dwarf pampas grass growing to just 60cm tall!

This newcomer is perfect in a border for anyone with a smaller garden or for those looking to create a feathery feature it’s perfect in a container on the patio placed in full sun. Producing an abundance of flowers even as a young plant makes this a textural winner for the summer garden.

The new Sedum Sunsparkler ‘Dream Dazzler’ is full of surprises – this season’s colour changing and drought resistant variety!

This brilliant sedum has a surprise in store – featuring different coloured foliage depending on its position in the garden!

Its succulent leaves form a dense low cushion of vibrant colour. Rich tones of dark purple with bright pink edges when in the sun, or blue green with white edges when positioned in the shade. With the addition of pink flowers in the summer months makes it a must have new variety for this season. Both disease resistant and hardy to -30oC this sedum will thrive in dry conditions basking in full sun and perfect for both borders and rockeries whilst attracting pollinating insects into the garden.

All varieties featured above will be available in our Spring 2021 Catalogue, and available to buy online from late December.

What to do when your plugs arrive

We’re so pleased to see so many photos on social media of the plug plants that you’re receiving in the post. Some customers – perhaps those of you who are turning to your gardens during this time of social distancing and self isolation – are asking us about what to do with their plug plants when they arrive. We’re aware that many of you may be new to gardening and might need some help and advice, so here’s a quick guide to what to do when your plants are delivered.

What to do when your plugs arrive

  • Unpack your plants as soon as they arrive – even if you haven’t got time to plant them up straight away – they’ll need some air after being enclosed in their packaging.
  • Give them a drink! The plants may well be thirsty after their journey, so moisten the plugs of soil at the roots of the plants if they are dry.
  • Don’t worry if the plants look a little sad on arrival; they should perk up once you give them a drink.
  • When you’re ready, gently tweak each plug plant out of its packaging and plant each one into a 7-9cm pot, filled with a good quality, multi purpose compost. This is what is known as ‘potting on’.
  • Gently press the plug plant into the compost, adding more to top up the pot if necessary. Don’t fill the pot to the very top with the compost – you need to allow for watering.
  • Place your pots somewhere where they will stay fairly warm and get lots of light – a windowsill, or a table near a window is fine if you don’t have a greenhouse or conservatory.
  • Keep the compost moist, but try not to overwater.
  • Your plants will start to grow; getting bigger and stronger by the day.

Once your plants have developed more leaves and are looking more robust – usually in late April to mid May (depending on the weather/climate in your area) – you can toughen them up ready for planting out in the garden by popping them outdoors during the daytime and bringing them in at night. You should do this for 7 – 10 days prior to planting out. This is known as ‘hardening off’. It’s important to protect your growing plants from any possible spring frosts, so do keep an eye on the weather forecast!

After you’ve ‘hardened off’ your plants, they’re ready to be planted out into the garden where you can watch them continue to grow and flourish – just remember to water them!

NOTE: If your plants are destined for baskets or containers which can be easily moved indoors and out again, then you can plant your plants into their final containers a little earlier if they have made good growth. You can then harden them off as explained.

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