Growing Summer Bedding Plants

Description. This is purely a garden term with no botanical significance. Some summer bedding plants are half-hardy annuals, some half-hardy perennials, i.e. plants which continue to live for many years, but may be damaged by frost, so cannot be left outdoors for the winter. Their sole link is that all may be planted out at the end of May or early in June to fill the garden with flowers in the summer. They are either thrown away in the autumn or lifted and wintered in a greenhouse, frame, or other frost-proof place.

Soil and Situation. With few exceptions bedding plants thrive in well-dug but not over-rich soils and sunny positions. A few kinds, notably calceolarias and tuberous-rooted begonias, will succeed in shade.Tuberous Rooted Begonias

Culture. Summer treatment is similar to that of annuals except that it is rarely wise to save seeds, as these may give very disappointing results. Trailing plants, such as ivy-leaved geraniums, may be pegged to the soil or tied up to short stakes. Tall plants, e.g. standard fuchsias, heliotropes, abutilons, etc., are often spaced at regular intervals (dot plants) among dwarf kinds (ground plants) to give an attractive effect.

Propagation. Some kinds, such as geraniums (zonal and ivy-leaved pelargoniums), calceolarias, gazanias, fuchsias, marguerites, and penstemons, are increased by cuttings. These must be prepared from firm, non-flowering shoots. They should be 1 to 4 in. in length according to the nature of growth, severed immediately beneath a joint, and the lower leaves must be removed. Cuttings are inserted firmly Ito 1 in. deep in sandy soil round the edge of a well-drained flower pot or in a pro-

pagating frame. Spring cuttings root best with bottom heat; summer and autumn cuttings in an unheated frame or greenhouse. When well rooted, cuttings must be potted singly in 3-in. pots in an ordinary compost. Later it may be necessary to remove to 4-in. pots of a similar compost if the smaller pots become filled with roots before planting-out time arrives.

Other kinds, e.g. heliotrope, verbenas, etc., may be raised from seed as well as from cuttings. The seed should be treated in the same way as for half-hardy annuals.

Tuberous-rooted begonias can be raised from seed as above, or old tubers can be divided after starting into growth in spring. Cannas can be raised from seed in a temperature of 70° but are usually increased by division in spring.

Lifting and Wintering. If they are to be kept over the winter, either for replanting the following year or to supply cuttings in spring, bedding plants must be lifted and brought into a frost-proof place before cold becomes too intense. With all except tuberous-rooted plants this lifting should be done in September or early October, before foliage is damaged by frost. They are then potted in the smallest pots that will contain the roots and placed in a greenhouse. Water should be given sparingly throughout the winter, but soil must never become absolutely dry. Frost protection is sufficient for calceolarias, marguerites, and fuchsias. A slightly higher temperature is preferable for geraniums and heliotropes.

Tuberous-rooted plants such as begonias, cannas, dahlias, and Salvia patens are lifted as soon as foliage is blackened by frost. The tops are cut off, and the tubers stored in dry sand or peat in any dry, cool, but frost-proof place. They are restarted into growth from Jan. to April in moist soil or peat in a temperature of from 60°-65°.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.