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Planting out

You should have previously prepared the ground to be used by digging it well, breaking it down to a ‘tilth’ and adding a balanced fertilizer. Remove the bedding plants from their trays or pots, disturbing the roots as little as possible. Place each plant in its own hole, which has been watered well to make a damp environment to root into. Carefully replace the soil and firm it round the stem — it should not be any higher up the stem than the compost was when it was in the box. You can give the whole area a thorough watering when you have finished, although sometimes this causes the moisture to evaporate more quickly from the soil.

after-care. You will have to make sure that the plants do not dry out until they become established, and they will need some weeding until the top growth joins together and covers the soil. Give a weekly liquid feed. If the dead heads do not drop off naturally, or if seed pods start to form, some dead-heading will be necessary to keep the plants in full flower and looking neat for as long as possible.

propagation. You can save seed from the ones already in the garden, but many of the best bedding plants are F1 Hybrids, so the seedling plants will not be like their parents. Some perennial bedding plants can be increased by cuttings, e.g. bedding geraniums (zonal pelargoniums). Trim off 3-4 in. (about 10 cm) long unflowering pieces below a leaf joint and remove the lower leaves. Insert the pieces into pots almost full of potting compost with a little extra sand or perlite added to improve drainage. Keep under frost-free glass in winter or in a semi-shaded place outside in summer. Do not overwater when temperatures are low, as they will rot off. You can take cuttings at any time, but those done in July, August and September will be ready for flowering in summer bedding schemes the following year. Many other perennial bedders can be treated in the same way, but if you are short of overwintering space you may find it easier to start again each spring.

At the end of summer, pull up and compost all true annuals and those perennial bedding plants you do not want to keep. If you wish to retain the perennials, pot up fairly tightly, or pack together in wooden boxes, and keep in a frost-free greenhouse, conservatory or light room for the winter.


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