Annuals Buying plants Gardening Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

How to Choose the Best Bedding Plants

What should you look for in bedding annuals? Source:

When you’re shopping for bedding plants for your gardens and pots, do you know what to look for? Of course, every knows you’ll want quality plants, not ones with wilting, yellow or brown foliage, unequal growth or broken stems, but you should also take a gander at the blooms. And, curiously, the best ones are not the ones with the most flowers!

In fact, bedding plants absolutely loaded with bloom will certainly catch your eye, but you’d do best to ignore them. Remember, these over-the-top bloomers are already in their prime … they can only go downhill from there! It’s especially important to understand that they’re putting all their resources into blooming. When you transplant them, they have no energy to spare for producing new roots and therefore never really settle in.

Some simply slow down to a crawl for a few weeks due to transplantation shock and may yet pick up again to a certain degree. Others, though, either stop growing entirely or go into decline and stay there, never regaining their original beauty. All your efforts to water them more carefully or supply extra fertilizer are just a waste of time.

How can you avoid this?

It’s simple! Look for plants that aren’t in heavy bloom!

A Professional Secret

The best annuals are those with the fewest blooms. Source:

Professional gardeners know that the best bedding plants are those with healthy green foliage, but not yet in bloom. That’s what they buy and plant out for stunning flowers all summer long. However, few garden centers offer younger, not-yet-in-bloom annuals. They’re convinced home gardeners want bloom and the more, the merrier, so blooming plants are all they offer.

The second-best option is to buy annuals that are only blooming very lightly … and fortunately, yes, you do find such plants in the average garden center. Usually they’re the latest arrivals, fresh from the grower, full of pep and energy. Ideally, you’d choose a tray with only one or two open flowers, just enough to confirm the color of the blooms to come.

Now, Off With Their Blooms!

20180630C S. Cochran,
It may break your heart to do so, but pinching off flowers will result in better results in the long run. Source: S. Cochran,

And for a better recovery once you do get them home, pinch off the flowers and visible flower buds before you transplant them. Do this with your finger tips or pruning shears.

This sends the plant back to an earlier phase of development. Without flowers to support in its immediate future, the plant invests its energy in growing roots, so it will settle in well (and later in the season, you’ll find it will be more drought resistant too!). In addition, pinching encourages the plant to branch more abundantly, guaranteeing even more flowers in the future.

The result is a healthier, tougher, more floriferous plant that will give better results throughout the rest of the summer.

So, two steps for maximum results with annual flowers: choose ones with few blooms … and remove even those when you get them home.

Life is more beautiful when it’s full of flowers!20180530A

0 comments on “How to Choose the Best Bedding Plants

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: