SUMMER BEDDING PLANTS OR IN-BETWEEN BEDDING PLANTS

There are a large number of plants for summer bedding which should give you a good show from June to October. Some are grown because of the flowers themselves, others because of their brightly coloured leaves. Occasionally plants may be introduced to give height. These are usually known as ‘dot’ plants. You may have just one central one, or four dotted about at even distances in the beds.

It is not usually necessary to prepare the ground especially well for summer bedding. Just remove the spring bedding plants. Fork over shallowly, working in sedge peat at a bucketful per square metre, plus a good fish manure at 105 g/m2 (3 oz per sq yd). If the soil is dry, and it often is at this time, the peat should be damped first of all. Tread the soil to make it firm and rake it level.

SUMMER BEDDING PLANTS

CHINA ASTERS Flower early August-October.

LARKSPURS Flower July-September. Two colours, rose scarlet and deep blue go well together.

LOBELIA Flower all the summer. Buy plants or raise in the greenhouse.

NASTURTIUMS Flower all the summer. Use dwarf varieties.

NEMESIA 150 to 225 mm (6 to 9 in) high. Flower all the summer. One of the loveliest bedding plants there is.

Can be had as blue or orange and red mixed.

PETUNIAS August-October. Single varieties are best.

Look well in beds alone or interplanted with Phlox drum- mondii.

SHIRLEY POPPIES Flower all the summer. Easy to grow. Sow seed in position.

ICELAND POPPIES August-October. Raise seed as for Canterbury Bells

PHLOX DRUMMONDII All the summer. Grows very quickly from seed. Separate colours or mixed. Only one inch high, if you peg it down. Does well on dry soil. STOCKS (10 weeks). Flower June and July. Sow early March in greenhouse or under cloches. East Lothian, flower July and August. Sow in March in greenhouse or under cloches. More robust than 10 weeks stocks.

ZINNIAS Flower July-end September. Sow in March under cloches or in greenhouse. Like sheltered warm position and rich soil. Excellent when sown in situ under lantern cloches.

ANTIRRHINUMS Flower all the summer. Were the most popular of all bedding plants until the disease, Rust, appeared. Seed usually sown in early spring under glass. Seedlings must be transplanted before they become drawn. Pinch plants when 100 mm or so (a few inches) high, to make them bushy. Convenient to use bedding varieties because these have compact growth. BEGONIAS Fibrous rooted. Flower all the summer. Sow seed in greenhouse in January by sprinkling it on damp soil. Seed is so small it must not be covered. Transplant seedlings when small. Plant out in beds early in June. Plants can be lifted in autumn and boxed up and kept in a warm greenhouse throughout the winter. Cuttings are usually taken in the spring.

BEGONIAS Tuberous rooted. Tubers are usually purchased and are started into growth by being planted shal-lowly in boxes of leaf mould or fibre in February. The plants are then potted up as soon as they have started to grow and so are ready to be planted out early in June after hardening off. There are both single and double varieties. The tubers may be kept from year to year in a greenhouse after they have been ‘ripened off’.

SALVIAS Flower all the summer. One of the most brilliant scarlet flowering plants. Excellent for bedding. Sow seed in February in warm house. Transplant seedlings early and eventually pot up into 150-mm (6-in) pots. Put out into their flowering position the third week of May. CALCEOLARIAS Flowering July-late September. Can’ be had in yellow, bronze and red. Cuttings are usually taken in October in a frame.

PENTSTEMONS Flower end June-end September. Good because they like a wet season! Take cuttings in September and October from base of plant. Strike in cold frame and keep there throughout the winter. Plant in beds in early April.

VIOLAS Flower all the summer. Cuttings taken in September and October, struck in cold frame in light sandy soil. A good way of getting cuttings is to cut the plants hard back after flowering and put a handful of leaf mould in the centre of each plant. May be had in mauves, blues, yellows, whites, and other colours. Keep cutting off the dead blooms – or the plants will cease to flower. DAHLIAS Flower all the summer. One of the most popular bedding plants today. Dwarf types are particularly useful, as are Miniature Cactus types. Plant after the middle of May when fear of frost is over.

FUCHSIAS Flower late summer to end September. Very graceful bedding plants. Large beds may be varied with dwarf specimens, or taller ‘trees’. There are a large number of excellent varieties. Do not plant out until the beginning of June. Propagate by cuttings taken in autumn or spring in a warm greenhouse.

HELIOTROPE Flowers late summer-end September. A lovely scented plant. Often grown as dwarf bushes but can be had as half-standards like fuchsias.

GERANIUMS Flower all the summer. A very popular bedder. Plant out late in May from 75-mm (3-in) pots. Usually propagated by cuttings taken in August or September in the greenhouse. Paul Crampel the single scarlet, and Gustav Emich the most popular varieties but King of Denmark, a double salmon, is also very good.

The following are a few of the foliage plants that are used in bedding:

PYRETHRUM aureum, the golden feather plant. Raised from seed sown in heat early in the spring. COLEUS has crimson purple leaves; take cuttings in spring.

AMARANTHUS, purple and red leaves. Sow in greenhouse in spring.

IRESINE, crimson leaves, take cuttings in the spring.

ANTENNARIA or Cat’s ear, a very dwarf plant. A perennial, so propagate by division in autumn or spring.

SANTOLINA Grey finely cut leaves; propagate by cuttings in cold frame in autumn.

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