Planting out your summer bedding

Now that the risk of a late frost has hopefully passed, it is time to start thinking about planting out your summer bedding. While bedding plants are among the easiest plants to grow below are a few simple hints and tips to help you get the best from your summer blooms.
   As with most things in the garden the real secret for success with bedding plants lies in the soil. While most bedding plants will grow away quite happily in most soils it still pays to give them a good start by preparing the soil well. The soil should be well dug and forked over, before removing all weeds and adding fresh nutrients such as general purpose compost or well rotted manure. A slow release fertilizer should also be raked into the soil at this stage to ensure that the plants are fed all summer long.
   When you have your soil sorted the next step is to select your plants. No matter which variety of plants you are thinking about using for your summer bedding it pays to start with good quality plants. By choosing plants that are healthy and not over grown you should be able to significantly lengthen the lifespan of your display. Healthy plants should be nice and compact with deep green leaves and no obvious signs of pest damage. When you have bought your plants and taken them home it is important to look after them until you are ready to plant them. If you are not ready to set your plants immediately place them in a sheltered spot and make sure that they are kept watered.
   When planning your display it is usually a good idea to set the plants on top of the soil and then to stand back and decide if you are happy with their positions. It is usually a good idea to set out the biggest plants first and then to fill in the gaps with smaller ones. The plants should then be watered well and planted quickly to avoid them drying out.
   After planting it is important to get yourself into a regular care routine. Watering is essential for a good display and along with a sprinkling every evening in times of dry weather the soil should be given a good soak every week. While watering you should also keep an eye out for signs of pest damage and deal with problems as soon as they appear. Weeds should also be removed early to prevent them becoming established.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.