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Annuals - Bedding Plants
Do you have a favourite bedding plant?

Annuals - Bedding Plants

Bedding plants epitomize formal gardening and the UK is famous throughout the world for this type of multi-coloured display.

In the 1980s and 1990s regimented rows of Alyssum, Lobelia and Marigolds were a regular sight in front gardens. Nowadays such disciplined plantings are the preserve of local authorities and public parks whilst in domestic gardening there has been a swing towards less formal planting schemes.

There is still a place for bedding plants in private gardens and where a gardener requires a brilliant flash of colour that can be quickly produced it is bedding plants that fit the bill.

To see a larger image, click on the picture.
'Sweet Alyssum' was once classified in the genus of Alyssum but it has now been reclassified as what?
Photograph courtesy of
  • The plant gets its common name from its sweet smell - especially noticeable on warm summer evenings.
  • Easy to grow and a favourite of 'older gardeners'!
  • At one time white Alyssum was used extensively in association with blue Lobelia.
  • Provides a vivid display while it lasts but it tends to be short-lived and when flowering is finished it can lend an untidy appearance to a mixed bed.
What is the name by which Mesembryanthemums are usually known?
Photograph courtesy of Chris Ibbotson
Dog Daisy
English Daisy
Livingstone Daisy
Oxeye Daisy
  • Easy to grow from seed.
  • There is a whole range of sparkling colours and seed is invariably sold as a mixture.
  • The flowers have a fascinating habit of opening in the sunshine but closing as soon the sun disappears.
  • Provide a brilliant display on sunny days but are almost invisible on dull days.
  • Excellent in rockeries and very reliable in dry conditions.
  • Needs little or no fertilizer.
This is a lovely double-flowered variety of which popular bedding plant?
Photograph courtesy of
Ivy Geranium
  • Frequently referred to as Busy Lizzie.
  • The plants come into flower quickly and produce a continuous mass of flowers throughout the summer.
  • Probably the best choice of bedding plant for shady corners.
  • Both plants and seed can be expensive. It is worthwhile taking cuttings from bought plants to increase your quantity of plants. The cuttings root extremely easily even without a greenhouse.
The bedding plant that is usually referred to as 'Geranium' does not in fact belong to the Geranium genus. To what genus does it belong?
Photograph courtesy of
  • The plant is a native of South Africa.
  • Amongst the most reliable of all bedding plants because it flourishes even in extremely hot and dry conditions.
  • Can be grown from seed but make sure you buy F1 hybrid varieties. Non F1s are unpredictable and tend to flower very late.
  • F1 hybrid seed is expensive but worth it.
  • Choice plants can be dug up and saved for the next year provided that you can keep them in a frost-free place over winter.
Bedding Violas are in the same family as which of the plants given below?
Photograph courtesy of
  • Sometimes known as Violets or Heartsease.
  • Closely related to Viola odorata which is widely used in the perfume industry.
  • Modern varieties come in a bewildering array of colours.
  • The flowers are edible and are sometimes used to add colour to a salad.
  • They can be planted in the autumn and with luck you will get a few flowers throughout the darkest months of the year.
Under what conditions do Pansies produce the best display?
Photograph courtesy of Betta Design
Very cold
Very hot
Very humid
  • Pansies come in almost every conceivable colour and combination of colours.
  • Varieties have been bred to be winter-hardy - plant them in the autumn to provide a wealth of colour the next spring.
  • The plant has been loved throughout history and gets a mention from both Shakespeare and Wordsworth.
  • They are also very tasty - almost every known garden pest and disease enjoys eating them!
Pansies do not grow well in the heat of the summer - the flowers get smaller as the weather gets hotter
What is the common name of Ageratum houstonianum that is often grown as a summer bedding plant?
Photograph courtesy of Oceandesetoiles
Boss flower
Floss flower
Gloss flower
Moss flower
  • The flower colour most often seen is blue but varieties are available with a range of purple, pink and white flowers.
  • Usually easy to grow, reliable and very little trouble.
  • Will tolerate partial shade but is happier in full sun.
  • Does better than most bedding plants in hot dry summers where no irrigation is available.
The scientific name for red-flowered Salvia often used as a bedding plant is what?
Photograph courtesy of Dinesh Valke
Salvia divinorum
Salvia officinalis
Salvia pratensis
Salvia splendens
  • Has lost some of its popularity in recent years but it is still an extremely reliable provider of a splash of vivid red.
  • Modern varieties are also available that have flowers of various shades of orange, pink, purple and white.
  • Seed is fairly easy to germinate.
  • When the plants are young they need to be kept at a minimum of 15 degrees C in order to prevent them going yellow.
  • Defer planting until early May if you have not got a heated glasshouse.
The plants that we call 'Marigolds' are members of the genus that botanists know as what?
Photograph courtesy of
  • Seed catalogues usually list a plethora of different 'types' of marigold including African, American, French, Mexican and Triploid and the lines between each are very blurred!
  • Many of the plants have a pungent smell and some gardeners plant marigolds next to their tomatoes to deter insect pests.
  • Marigolds are amongst the easiest of all plants to grow from seed - an ideal plant to nurture the interest of youngsters.
In the UK the name 'Tagetes' is normally reserved for a member of this genus that has feathery foliage and a multitude of small flowers. There is not a genus called 'Marigold'!
The popular edging plant known as Lobelia erinus is a native of where?
Photograph courtesy of Aka
Northern Europe
Eastern Asia
Southern Africa
Western Australia
  • Famous for being the blue flower of choice in bedding displays.
  • Many different shades of blue from the lightest sky blue to the deepest purple.
  • Also available in whites and pinks.
  • Seed is tiny and, although not difficult to grow, it takes a long time before the seedlings are ready for pricking out.
  • Seed is very cheap and it is usually pricked-out into stations each containing several seedlings.
  • Will flower throughout the summer until the first frosts.
Author:  Colin King

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