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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.

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'!
'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.
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 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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.


Author:  Colin King

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