Bedding plants are plants put out for temporary display during their peak blooming periods. You can enjoy continuous bloom from spring until frost by interspersing spring bedding plants among bulbs, perennials, and shrubs and by replacing them when their bloom has declined with summer bedding plants. In regions of little frost, spring bedding plants can safely be planted in fall; in colder areas wait until the ground thaws. Buy plants in packs of 6 to 12 or in individual pots, or start your own indoors or in a greenhouse. Set them out before they reach maximum bloom.
Favorite spring bedding plants are pansies, primroses, forget-me-nots, sweet Williams, and English daisies. In regions where winters are very mild, the spring display can include cinerarias, Paris daisies, turban ranunculuses, poppy-flowered anemones, schizanthuses, and clarkias.
Replace spring bedding plants with summer’s standbys: ageratum, sweet alyssum, petunias, marigolds, zinnias, dahlias, lantanas, calendulas, geraniums, canvas, and snapdragons for sunny areas. Plants that will bloom in shade or partial shade include balsams, impatiens, begonias, and nicotiana.
The fall garden can be made colorful with potted chrysanthemums, which will survive light frosts that destroy most summer bedding plants. Buying and planting Plan your planting before you go to the garden center so you don’t overbuy. Look for plants that are stocky and bushy rather than tall and leggy. Beware of any with yellowing foliage. Set out plants as soon as possible; if you have to wait, keep them well watered and in good light. Plant in dull weather or late in the afternoon so that plants won’t droop in the noonday sun. Separate the individual plants in a pack by carefully pulling them apart with your fingers. Set them in at the same soil level as before or slightly deeper; water well.