Bedding plants became incredibly popular in the Victorian era, when specialist plant hunters were dispatched to find new and unique specimens to add colour and interest to gardens. The surge in interest coincided with the abolition of the glass tax. This meant that, for the first time, more people were able to erect modest glasshouses in their gardens allowing them to grow a wider range of the new bedding plants that were brought back from warmer parts of the world. Here’s why this Victorian status symbol has stood the test of time…
Bedding plants became a Victorian status symbol
As new varieties of bedding plants were discovered, their use became something of a status symbol as wealthy estates competed to create the most intricate carpets of colour. Only the most fortunate could afford to grow these new varieties, and so formal bedding plant displays became an ornate symbol of the Victorian era. However, due to changes in fashion and a lack of post-war labour, bedding plants fell from favour and less formal planting schemes like cottage gardens became more popular.
How to use bedding plants in modern schemes
To my delight, bedding plants are on the comeback. There’s an incredible choice of different varieties available today, and they’re no longer restricted to the wealthy.
The best part about using bedding plants in your own garden is that they allow you to create a completely new design every year. You can easily change the colour scheme every year – annual summer bedding plants are the quickest way to transform your beds, borders, hanging baskets and patio containers, and the results are fairly instant.
You can also use bedding plants to plug gaps in perennial or shrub borders while you wait for smaller plants to reach their full size. Densely planting bedding plants into gaps in your herbaceous borders keeps the weeds down too!
And bedding plants are not just for bright summer displays. If you replant your garden with winter bedding plants in the autumn, you’ll have a gorgeous show through the coldest months of the year as well.
When is the best time to order bedding plants?
If you have plenty of space and time, you can grow your own bedding plants from seed.
Summer bedding plants should be sown from February to April and winter bedding plants need to be started off between May and July, ready for planting out in the autumn.
However most people order trays of fuss-free plug plants for a quick, easy and cost-effective solution. Summer bedding plants are dispatched at the end of spring and winter bedding plants are sent out at the end of summer. If you have a particular purpose in mind, you can choose from our curated collections like perfect for pollinators bedding plants or bedding suitable for containers. Simply pre-order your selection on the website, and your bedding plants will be delivered at the optimum time.
For more information on creating spectacular displays, read our article on how to grow bedding plants. You’ll also find a wealth of tips, advice over at our dedicated bedding plant hub page.
Terri works in the e-commerce marketing department assisting the busy web team. Terri manages our blog and social media pages here at Thompson & Morgan and is dedicated to providing useful advice to our gardeners. Terri is new to gardening and keen to develop her horticultural knowledge.
I have bought my summer bedding plants . My conservertory is very cold at night should I keep indoors until can plant outside . Thank you
Your plug plants should be kept frost-free overnight, but can cope with minimum temperatures of around 10C. I doubt that your conservatory gets colder than thet so I would lkeave them out there. You may like to cast a couple of layers of horticultural fleece (or newspaper) accross them on coleder nights to offer a little extra protection.
Hope thetat helps
My name is Peter Wright and I purchased the 12.99 collection through the Radio Times. I have contacted about 6 days ago for some advice. What temperature do I keep the seedling at; at the moment they are in a small plastic greenhouse dependant on the weather to give some warmth. Is it better to keep them under a LED light in the house for growth. The plug plants are great but not showing much growth. In Sheffield where I live of course we have some 1000 ft areas where I used to live for 37 years but came down to 500 feet 8 years ago at 75, not almost 83. appreciate your advice so I can act upon it. Never had time to grow seedlings ( I have some growing but they are spindly so that is why I decided to buy plug plants from M&T Thankyou Peter Wright Sheffield
Your plug plants will still need protection from the cold. They should be kept above a minimum temperature of 10C (50F). In an ideal world they would be best kept indoors for they next month or in a heated greenhouse of conservatory. If the plastic greenhouse is your only option then watch the weather forecast for late frosts and bring your plants indoors overnight if frost is forecast! On cold nights you can throw some horticultural fleece over the plants to keep them warm.
If they are outdoors at the moment then they will probably be getting enough natural light without the need for extra lighting. If you are able to bring them indoors then position them on a bright windowsill. As the weather is still cool, then they may not be putting on a huge amount of growth yet. Once the temperatures warm up, they will really get going. In the meantime – take care not to over water them as cool temperatures and wet soils will lead to plant rot.
I hope that helps you
Feel free to ask if you need any more help