some of the best bedding plants in a wildflower meadow

The Best Bedding Plants For All Seasons: Top 40

As gardeners, we all want to create a beautiful outdoor space that looks amazing all year round. One of the best ways of achieving this is by using bedding plants. Bedding plants come in various shapes, sizes, and colours and can add interest and texture to any garden. In addition, there are options for every season, from colourful summer bedding plants that burst with vibrant hues to winter flowering bedding plants that bring life to your garden during the colder months. In this article, we’ll explore the best bedding plants for all seasons, including popular choices for pots and borders, and provide tips on how to grow them successfully. Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered.

What Are Bedding Plants?

Bedding plants are a type of ornamental plant that gardeners often use to add colour and interest to their gardens, borders and containers. These plants grow only once, allowing gardeners to replace them the following year. Bedding plants can be annuals, biennials, or perennials, and they come in various colours, shapes, and sizes.

Gardeners often use bedding plants to fill in gaps between permanent plants or to add temporary interest to their garden. They do this by planting them in large groups to create a visually cohesive display.

One of the main advantages of bedding plants is that you can change them occasionally to make your garden fresh and exciting. For example, in the spring, gardeners often choose bedding plants that grow early and provide bright colours. Then, however, they will select plants that can withstand frost in winter and add colour and a spectacular appearance.

The Best Spring Bedding Plants

yellow bedding plants thriving in summer

Spring is a beautiful time when gardens come alive with an explosion of colour. After a long, cold winter, it’s time to plant beautiful spring bedding plants that will brighten up your borders and containers. We have compiled our top picks for the ten best bedding plants for spring that will make your garden a vibrant and colourful place.

1. Hyacinths

Hyacinths are a fragrant and colourful addition to any spring garden. These bulbous plants produce tall spikes of densely packed flowers in shades of pink, purple, blue, and white. Hyacinths are ideal for planting in borders or containers and make a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements. 

To grow hyacinths, plant bulbs in autumn in well-draining soil and in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged during the growing season. After the flowers have faded, allow the foliage to die back naturally before cutting it back.

2. Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding hearts are a delicate and charming spring-flowering plant, often featured in romantic cottage-style gardens. They produce heart-shaped flowers in shades of pink or white that hang gracefully from arching stems. Bleeding hearts prefer moist, well-drained soil in a partly shady location. These worthy bedding plants bloom early in the season and go dormant once the summer heat arrives, so it is best to plant them in a spot where they will not be disturbed. 

You can propagate bleeding hearts by division in autumn or early spring, and they are often grown in woodland gardens or alongside other shade-loving plants. They make a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements so you can enjoy them indoors and outdoors.

3. Primroses

Primroses are one of the best bedding plants for early spring colour. These tiny plants produce abundant brightly coloured flowers in shades of pink, purple, yellow, and white. They are ideal for planting in borders or containers, and you can also use them to add colour to rock gardens or between paving stones. 

Primroses prefer moist, well-draining soil and a partly shady location, making them perfect for underplanting trees or alongside other shade-loving plants. Deadheading the spent flowers will encourage more blooms and extend the flowering period. Primroses are also great for attracting pollinators.

4. Violas

Violas are one of the most popular spring bedding plants, and for a good reason. They produce brightly coloured flowers in shades of purple, blue, yellow, and white and have a long blooming period. Violas are versatile plants that you can use in borders, containers, or hanging baskets, and they also make an excellent ground cover. They prefer moist, well-draining soil in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. 

Deadheading spent blooms will encourage more flowers, and regular watering and feeding will keep the plants healthy and blooming. Violas are often used in spring bedding schemes and are frequently combined with other spring-flowering plants to create a stunning display.

5. Pansies

Pansies make some of the best bedding plants for spring because of their bright, cheerful colours and charming “faces.” These hardy plants come in a wide range of colours, from deep purples and blues to bright yellows and oranges, and they bloom for an extended period. Pansies are perfect for planting in borders, containers, or window boxes and make an excellent ground cover. They prefer moist, well-draining soil in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. 

You can deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers, and regular watering and feeding will keep the plants healthy. Pansies are also great for attracting pollinators to the garden, making them a valuable addition to any planting scheme.

6. Daffodils

Daffodils are one of the most popular and recognisable spring bedding plants, and they are one of the best bedding plants for adding a burst of colour to any garden. They come in a wide range of colours, from classic yellow to white and pink, and their distinctive trumpet-shaped flowers are a cheerful sight in early spring. Daffodils prefer moist, well-draining soil in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. Plant bulbs in autumn for spring blooms, and choose a site with good drainage to prevent rot. You can plant them in borders, containers, or naturalised in lawns or meadows for a more natural look.

7. Tulips

Tulips are a popular spring-blooming bulb and one of the best bedding plants for adding vibrant colour to the garden. They come in a wide range of colours, from soft pastels to bold, bright hues, and their classic cup-shaped flowers make a stunning display. Tulips prefer moist, well-draining soil in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. Plant bulbs in autumn for spring blooms, and choose a site with good drainage to prevent bulb rot. Planting tulips at a depth of two to three times the bulb’s height would be best. 

8. Heather

Heather is a low-growing evergreen shrub that is ideal for adding colour and interest to the garden in the spring. It produces small, bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white. Heather prefers acidic, well-draining soil in a location that receives full sun to partial shade. It is also drought-tolerant and requires minimal maintenance, making it an excellent choice for busy gardeners. You can plant heather in rock gardens, borders, or as a groundcover. It also makes a great addition to pots and containers.

9. Foxgloves

Foxgloves are tall, stately plants that produce spikes of tubular flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white. They are one of the best bedding plants for adding height and structure to the garden in the spring. Foxgloves prefer moist, well-draining soil in a location that receives partial shade to full sun. They can tolerate some drought but perform best when watered regularly. Deadheading spent blooms will encourage continued flowering throughout the summer. Foxgloves look beautiful in borders, cottage gardens, or as a backdrop to other spring-flowering plants. They are also popular with pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

10. Crocuses

Crocuses are among the first plants to appear in spring, often pushing through the snow to reveal their colourful blooms. They are some of the best bedding plants in rock gardens, borders, and containers. Crocuses come in various colours, including purple, yellow, and white, and often have contrasting centres that add interest to any planting scheme.

To grow crocuses successfully, plant them in well-draining soil in a sunny spot and water regularly during the growing season. They prefer cooler temperatures and will go dormant during hot summer months, so be sure to plant them where they will not be disturbed until the following spring.

The Best Summer Bedding Plants

the best bedding plants for spring planted up in a garden

Summer is a warmer, lovelier spring extension, and our gardens burst into vibrant life. The key to creating a stunning summer display to complement the weather is to choose the best bedding plants for the season. Here are some of our favourite summer bedding plants that you should consider including in your planting scheme:

11. Begonias

Begonias are a popular choice for summer bedding plants due to their stunning, bright-coloured flowers in shades of pink, red, yellow, orange, and white. These plants thrive in partial shade and produce abundant blooms throughout the summer. They are easy to care for and require regular watering and feeding.

To grow begonias, choose a well-draining soil mix and plant them in a pot or hanging basket with good drainage. Water them regularly, but be careful not to overwater, which can lead to root rot. Begonias prefer cooler temperatures and do well in partially shaded areas.

12. Geraniums

Geraniums are another popular choice for summer bedding plants, known for their bright, bold blooms and long flowering period. They come in various colours, including red, pink, orange, white, and purple, and are easy to grow and care for. Geraniums thrive in full sun and well-draining soil.

To grow geraniums, plant them in a pot or hanging basket with a soil mix that is rich in organic matter. Water them regularly, but let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. You can periodically deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers throughout the summer. Geraniums are also an excellent plant for attracting pollinators to your garden.

13. Sweet Peas

Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) are some of the best bedding plants for summer because of their delicate, sweet fragrance and vibrant, colourful blooms. They are also known for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies to your garden. In addition, sweet peas add vertical interest to your garden beds and borders. They grow quickly and can reach up to 6 feet in height, making them perfect for climbing up trellises, fences, or other support structures. They are versatile and can be grown in containers and hanging baskets.

Sweet peas prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. They require consistent moisture and benefit from regular fertilisation to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. It’s essential to support them, such as a trellis or netting, to help them climb and prevent them from flopping over. Sweet peas are best grown in cooler temperatures and can tolerate light frost. They are typically planted in early spring and will continue to bloom throughout the summer. 

14. Impatiens

Impatiens are a popular choice when narrowing down the best bedding plants due to their vibrant colours and ability to thrive in shady areas. These plants are also known as “busy Lizzies” due to their fast growth rate and abundance of flowers. 

Impatiens have small, brightly coloured flowers that bloom in abundance throughout the summer. The flowers have five petals and a central spur resembling a small cone. The leaves are also attractive and have a bright green colour.

They prefer moist, well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter and grow best in partial shade or filtered sunlight, as direct sunlight can scorch the leaves. Additionally, you should water Impatiens frequently, particularly during hot and dry weather, as they are prone to wilting.

15. Snapdragons

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are some of the best bedding plants known for their tall, colourful spires of blooms. These classic summer bedding plants are available in various colours, including pink, red, yellow, white, and purple, and have a distinct, snap-like shape that gives them their name.

Snapdragons are great for adding height and texture to summer borders, and their long-lasting blooms make them ideal for cut flower arrangements. In addition, they prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil that is consistently moist. Snapdragons can be grown from seed or purchased as young plants and are easy to care for.

We’d recommend pinching back the tips of the plant when they are about 6 inches tall to ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms. This will encourage bushier growth and more flowers. Deadheading spent blooms will also promote more blooms throughout the summer.

Snapdragons are pest-resistant but occasionally fall prey to aphids, spider mites, and rust. Regular monitoring and control measures, such as insecticidal soap or neem oil, can help keep these pests at bay. With proper care, snapdragons can provide a colourful and striking addition to any summer garden.

16. Marigolds

Marigolds are a classic bedding plant known for their bright and sunny blooms that range in colour from yellow and gold to orange and red. They are easy to grow and are perfect for adding a pop of colour to any garden bed or container.

Marigolds prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They can grow up to 18 inches tall and produce large, daisy-like flowers that bloom from late spring through fall. Deadheading spent blooms will encourage continued flowering throughout the season.

Marigolds are also known for their pest-repellent properties, making them popular for vegetable gardens. They repel aphids, whiteflies, and nematodes, attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings.

17. Petunias

Petunias are one of the most popular and versatile summer bedding plants, known for their bright and showy flowers in various colours. They are perfect for adding a splash of colour to garden beds, borders, containers, and hanging baskets.

Petunias prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. You should water them regularly without overwatering, which can cause root rot. Fertilising every 2-3 weeks will encourage healthy growth and blooming. They should be spaced 6-12 inches apart and can grow up to 18 inches tall.

Petunias are available in wide varieties, including trailing, upright, and dwarf. They can be single or double-flowered, ranging from white and pastel shades to bright pinks, purples, and blues. Deadheading will encourage new blooms and keep the plant looking tidy. Petunias are great for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.

18. Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia, commonly known as black-eyed Susan, is a cheerful and low-maintenance summer bedding plant that adds a bright pop of yellow or orange to any garden. They are long-blooming, with flowers lasting up to three months, making them an excellent choice for gardeners who want to enjoy colour throughout the summer.

Rudbeckia prefers full sun and well-draining soil. They are drought-tolerant and can handle a variety of soil conditions but will perform best in soil that is kept consistently moist. Rudbeckia should be spaced 12-18 inches apart and can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Rudbeckia makes excellent cut flowers and also attracts pollinators to the garden. Deadheading will encourage new blooms and prolong the flowering season. These plants are perfect for borders, cottage gardens, or as mass planting for a bold statement.

Read More: Black-Eyed Susan: Growing & Care Guide

19. Cosmos

Cosmos are one of the best bedding plants if you’re looking for beauty with little maintenance. They produce delicate, daisy-like blooms in shades of pink, white, and purple. In addition, they are drought-tolerant and can withstand hot and dry conditions, making them an excellent choice for those living in warmer climates.

Cosmos prefer full sun and well-draining soil. They should be spaced 12-18 inches apart and can grow up to 6 feet tall, so make sure to give them enough room to grow. Deadheading will encourage new blooms and prolong the flowering season.

20. Zinnias

Zinnias are an excellent choice for summer bedding plants due to their bright, eye-catching blooms in various colours, including pink, orange, yellow, red, and purple. In addition, they are low-maintenance and easy to grow, making them ideal for beginners or those who don’t have much time to devote to gardening.

Zinnias prefer full sun and well-draining soil. They are tolerant of hot, dry conditions but will require regular watering during prolonged periods of drought. Zinnias can be grown from seed, which should be sown directly into the garden after the last frost. They can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost and transplanted outside once the seedlings have developed 2-3 sets of leaves. When fully grown, Zinnias attract and provide food for butterflies and hummingbirds, bringing lovely new visitors into your garden.

The Best Bedding Plants For Autumn

pink bedding plants

As the summer draws to a close and the temperatures begin to drop, it’s time to start thinking about the best bedding plants for autumn. While the weather might be getting colder, that doesn’t mean your garden has to look dull and lifeless. With the right selection of plants, you can keep your borders looking bright and colourful all the way through to the first frost. Here are ten of the best autumn bedding plants to consider:

Read More: The Best Autumn Flowers

21. Purple Sage

Purple Sage, also known as Salvia Officinalis, is a popular herb in autumn gardens due to its striking purple foliage. It is a low-maintenance plant that prefers well-draining soil and full sun. It’s also drought-tolerant, making it a great choice for those who live in areas with low rainfall. It’s perfect for adding colour to borders or as a focal point in a container garden.

22. Heavenly Bamboo

Heavenly Bamboo, or Nandina domestica, is a stunning plant that adds interest to any autumn garden. It has a lacy texture and bright red berries that provide a pop of colour. Heavenly Bamboo prefers partial to full sun and moist, well-draining soil. It’s also drought-tolerant and easy to care for, making it a great choice for a low-maintenance garden.

23. Ornamental Cabbages

Ornamental Cabbages are a popular choice for autumn bedding plants. They come in a variety of colours, including pink, white, and purple, and have a beautiful ruffled texture for visual interest in your garden. Ornamental cabbages prefer well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade and are also frost-tolerant. As such, they are a great choice for areas with cooler temperatures.

24. Hardy Plumbago

Hardy Plumbago, or Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, is a beautiful groundcover plant that turns a stunning shade of burgundy in the fall. It prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-draining soil. Hardy Plumbago is also drought-tolerant and easy to care for, making it a great choice for a low-maintenance garden. It’s perfect for planting along borders or in containers.

25. Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are a classic autumn bedding plant and are known for their colourful blooms. These plants come in a range of colours, including yellow, orange, red, and pink. Chrysanthemums prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are also relatively easy to care for and can tolerate a range of conditions.

26. Asters

Asters are a classic autumn flower, and for a good reason. These daisy-like flowers are available in shades of pink, purple, blue, and white and can grow up to three feet tall. They prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Asters are an excellent choice for attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your garden. To encourage bushier growth, pinch back the stem tips before the plant reaches six inches in height.

Read More: How To Attract Autumn Wildlife To Your Garden

27. Heuchera ‘Sugar Plum’

Heuchera’ Sugar Plum’ is a popular choice for autumn bedding plants. The plant features dark purple, almost black foliage that contrasts beautifully with the pinkish-white flowers that bloom in late summer to early autumn. This plant prefers partial shade and well-draining soil. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged to avoid root rot. Deadheading spent flowers will encourage the plant to continue producing more blooms.

28. Sedum

Sedum, also known as stonecrop, is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that thrives in autumn. Its succulent leaves come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, including green, blue-green, and purple. Sedum prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Its flowers bloom in clusters in late summer and early autumn and can be white, pink, or red. Sedum is drought-tolerant, so it is an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens.

29. Cyclamen persicum

Cyclamen Persicum, also known as Persian cyclamen, is a beautiful autumn bedding plant that produces delicate, butterfly-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white. They prefer partial shade and well-draining soil. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, as too much water can cause root rot. To encourage more blooms, remove spent flowers regularly. Persian cyclamen is also an excellent choice for container gardens.

30. Imperata cylindrica’ Rubra’

Imperata Cylindrica ‘Rubra’, also known as Japanese blood grass, is a striking ornamental grass that features bright red leaves in autumn. The plant prefers full sun and well-draining soil. Japanese blood grass is drought-tolerant, making it an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens. It is a slow-growing plant, but its vibrant colour and unique texture make it a standout addition to any garden.

The Best Winter Bedding Flowers

Winter can seem dull and drab with its cold and dark days, but winter gardening is vital to a healthy garden, and planting winter bedding flowers can add a much-needed splash of colour to your garden. These plants are tough, resilient, and able to withstand cold temperatures, and they’ll keep your garden looking great all winter long. Here are the best bedding plants for winter to consider:

31. Winter Pansies

Winter pansies are one of the most popular winter bedding flowers and for a good reason. These hardy plants produce flowers in a range of bright colours, from deep purples to bright yellows, and they’ll bloom from fall through winter and into spring. They’re also relatively easy to care for, requiring regular watering and some light pruning to encourage bushy growth.

32. Cyclamen 

Cyclamens are another excellent choice for winter bedding plants. These plants are known for their delicate, butterfly-shaped flowers that come in shades of pink, red, and white. They’re hardy and can withstand cold temperatures, making them perfect for planting in pots or as ground cover. Cyclamen also prefers well-draining soil and a sheltered spot to protect them from the worst of the winter weather.

33. Hellebores

Hellebores are a favourite among gardeners and for a good reason. These evergreen perennials bloom in late winter or early spring, producing flowers in shades of pink, purple, and green. They prefer partial shade and well-draining soil and can tolerate a range of temperatures, making them an excellent choice for winter bedding.

34. Polyanthus

Polyanthus is another of the best bedding plants for winter, as it produces bright, cheerful blooms in shades of yellow, red, and orange. They prefer well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade and can thrive in cold temperatures. Polyanthus will bloom from winter through early spring and will add a much-needed burst of colour to your garden.

35. Snowdrops 

Snowdrops are a classic winter flower that produces delicate, bell-shaped flowers in late winter throughout early spring. These plants are hardy and can withstand cold temperatures, making them perfect for winter bedding plants. They prefer partial shade and moist, well-draining soil and will bloom for several weeks, making them a must-have for any winter garden. 

36. Winter Jasmine

Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is a deciduous shrub that blooms in the winter months. Its yellow flowers are small but abundant, and they appear on the bare branches before the leaves emerge in the spring. This makes it a great option for adding colour to winter bedding plants. Winter jasmine prefers a sunny spot with well-drained soil. It can be grown as a shrub or trained against a wall or trellis.

37. Winterberry

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous holly that produces bright red berries that persist through the winter. The berries are a valuable source of food for birds, and they add a festive touch to a winter garden. Winterberry prefers moist, acidic soil and a sunny or partly shaded spot. Male and female plants are required to produce berries, so be sure to plant both if you want fruit.

Read More: How To Bring Birds Into Your Garden

38. Christmas Rose

Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) is a beautiful evergreen perennial that blooms in late winter or early spring. Its pure white flowers are delicate and elegant, and they are often tinged with pink or green. Christmas rose prefers a shaded spot with moist, well-drained soil, and you can plant it in borders or grow it in containers.

39. Wintergreen

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) is a low-growing evergreen shrub that produces glossy leaves and red berries in the winter months. The leaves are aromatic and can be used to make tea or flavour food. Wintergreen prefers a partly shaded spot with acidic, well-drained soil. It is a great choice for edging or groundcover.

40. Winter Heath

Winter heath (Erica carnea) is a low-growing evergreen shrub that blooms in late winter or early spring. Its pink, white, or purple flowers are fragrant and attractive to bees. Winter heath prefers a sunny spot with well-drained, acidic soil. It is a good choice for borders or ground cover, and it looks great when planted together. 

Read More: How To Help Garden Wildlife This Winter 

The Best Bedding Plants For Pots

evergreen shrubs for pots

Choosing bedding plants for pots isn’t much different from choosing from the popular bedding plants for each season. You can grow plenty of the plants that we have listed in this article just as well in pots, too. Here are some of the best bedding plants for pots, correlating some of the favourites we’ve mentioned above and some different varieties for you to try.

  1. Petunias
  2. Geraniums
  3. Impatiens
  4. Lobelia
  5. Fuchsias
  6. Begonias
  7. Pansies
  8. Violas
  9. Nemesia
  10. Calibrachoa
  11. Salvia
  12. Coleus
  13. Snapdragons
  14. Dianthus
  15. Alyssum
  16. Marigolds
  17. Zinnias
  18. Sunflowers
  19. Dwarf dahlias
  20. Ornamental grasses

All of these bedding plants come in a variety of colours and are easy to grow in pots. However, when choosing a pot, make sure it has good drainage holes and is large enough to accommodate the roots of the plant. Also, use high-quality potting soil and fertilise regularly for the best results.

Choosing The Best Bedding Plants For Your Garden

Bedding plants are a fantastic way to bring vibrant and colourful displays to your garden throughout the year. Whether you opt for summer bedding plants to add a burst of colour to your outdoor space or choose winter flowering bedding plants to brighten up those cold, dreary months, the best bedding plants offer something for every taste and preference. And by choosing the best bedding plants for your garden, you can ensure that your outdoor space is always looking its best, no matter what the season.

FAQs

Which Bedding Plants Flower The Longest?

There are several bedding plants that can flower for a long time. Some of the best options include petunias, marigolds, begonias, and impatiens. These plants can bloom for several months, especially if they are deadheaded regularly and provided with the right growing conditions.

What Is The Most Popular Bedding Plant?

The most popular bedding plant can vary depending on the region and time of year. However, some of the most commonly grown bedding plants include petunias, marigolds, impatiens, snapdragons, and geraniums. These plants are popular because they are relatively easy to grow, come in a variety of colours, and can add vibrant colour to any garden or landscape.

What Are Some Fast-Growing Bedding Plants?

If you’re looking for the best bedding plants that are fast-growing, there are several options to choose from. Some of the best include zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, and sunflowers. These plants can quickly establish themselves and begin to bloom within a few weeks to a month after planting. Additionally, they are relatively low maintenance and can provide a beautiful display of flowers for the entire growing season.

Resources

Gardeners’ World. (n.d.). How to grow snapdragons (Antirrhinum). Retrieved from https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-grow-snapdragons-antirrhinum/ [accessed 04/05/23]

The Old Farmer’s Almanac. (n.d.). Marigolds. Retrieved from https://www.almanac.com/plant/marigolds [accessed 04/05/23]

Love The Garden. (n.d.). Petunia. Retrieved from https://www.lovethegarden.com/uk-en/article/petunia [accessed 04/05/23]

Sarah Raven. (n.d.). How to plant and grow cosmos. Retrieved from https://www.sarahraven.com/articles/how-to-plant-and-grow-cosmos [accessed 04/05/23]

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