Generally speaking, the beginner in garden matters will buy most of his bedding plants as he buys his bulbs, probably from a local nursery or market. As he may wonder how to buy to best advantage, and what to look for in buying, the following general hints may prove useful.
First of all, it does pay to order in good time. If you have no glass at all, and cannot give temporary shelter to tender plants, tell the nurseryman this, and refuse to accept delivery of the summer bedding plants until the last week in May. It will then be too late for severe frosts, and you are not likely to suffer big losses.
It pays to order in good time for another reason. If the bedding scheme is to be successful, you must be able to pick and choose colours and varieties. This you may be able to do, if your nursery is large, at any time up to the date of delivery. It is sometimes best, however, if you can call at the nursery even as early as January with a list of possible requirements, especially if you want a particular variety. The nurseryman will be only too glad tovarieties for a certain market, and will choose his accordingly.
In buying, make sure that you obtain plants that are short jointed and thick in the, with foliage of rather dark colour, according to variety, of course (some antirrhinums have naturally darker foliage than others). If the are thin and drawn, with long spaces between the on the , the plants have been weakened by too much heat, or by lack of sunshine. Moreover, if you are to put the plants straight into the garden, they should have been hardened off by standing in the open for a time; this would have caused the foliage to be darker.
If you have to accept plants that are inclined to be “leggy,” pinch out the growing tips, so that side shoots are encouraged. It is
safe to do this on most bedding plants of the antirrhinum type, and on dahlias. Pinching back actually results in more, though it may possibly delay the arrival of the first blooms a little.
When unpacking the plants from the usual market box used forand , break off one side of the box first. If the soil is dry, water the plants well, and leave them to soak for an hour or two.
In planting, first make a hole with a trowel, then take the plant from its box or pot with as little disturbance as possible of the soil round the, hold it in , and press moist (but not too wet) soil round it. If the weather is very dry, you may be well advised to water the bed or border an hour or two before starting to plant out.