Bedding Plants For Summer Gardens

bedding plants for summer gardensPlant merchandisers for nurseries and big box stores offer a good selection of early summer bedding plants this month. Most plants for your yard and veggie garden have the best chance of looking great all summer long if purchased, acclimated and planted now, when the danger of frost is passed.

Tips for buying good plants:

  • Select good plants to begin with: short is better than tall and “leggy” (having long stem sections and little leaves).
  • Select plants suited for your USDA Hardiness Zone.
  • Select plants that meet the need— annual vs. perennial.
  • Select healthy plants that are not rife with pests or disease

The best plants are of good color, are growing centered in the pot, and display evenly branched stems. Plants that are green and leafy will be quick to establish in the garden or container. Leggy specimens will be slower to establish or may never establish themselves at all. Gardening experience plays a part in determining which of those sad plants in the discount aisle are worth the trouble.

Don't overlook the roots!

Summer bedding plants come from commercial growers who must often produce a lot of plants in a short period of time. Fast growth and then time on a retail shelf means that small pots and multi-packs are sometimes “root” or “pot-bound.”

spring bedding plants and roots

Root-bound plants can be identified by fibrous growth trailing out of the holes at the bottom of the container. While the condition isn’t a death sentence, if there is a choice, choose a plant that is not pot-bound. Tear the matt of roots off to remove the plant from the pot and tease what is left before putting the plant in the ground.

When choosing plants, a yellow leaf or two is not usually a cause for concern. But plants with distorted leaves or yellow or brown bullseyes are best left at the nursery. Plants that are brown or look heat stressed also may not fully recover.

When it comes to buying a flowering plant, look for an open bloom or two to verify the color. But in general, it’s better to buy a plant full of buds rather than flowers.

Acclimating bedding plants

When bringing home new bedding plants, if time allows, isolate the plants and let them acclimate in the container in a sheltered location. Inspect the plants carefully. The white residue on the plants is probably a watery dose of insecticide applied by the grower. This may be rinsed or wiped off.

Despite good hygiene, some plants attract fungus gnats due to close quarters and moist soil. Fungus gnats are tiny flying insects that infest soil and potting mix. Removing the top half inch of soil from the nursery container should remove them, along with any excess fertilizer. If the plant is moving indoors in the same container, letting the soil dry out should also control this annoying pest.

Lastly, when giving new plants a drink, take note that Mother Nature knows best. Watering with rain water, which is free of salts, is ideal. City water typically contains chlorine, which can inhibit plant growth. If using tap water, let it sit exposed for 24-48 hours if possible. And tepid or warm water is preferred.

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