December through March is the time many gardeners begin growing their own bedding plants. This not only gives the gardener something to do while Jack Frost is furiously howling outdoors, but it can also be economical and a source of satisfaction.
There are many definitions of bedding plants and I’ll give you the one that seems to work best. Bedding plants are the showy plants that I place in my gardens every year. They can be perennials or annuals. Bedding plants can also be container plants, hanging plants, ground cover plants, herbs, vegetable plants, flowering plants, or whatever I want them to be. The main idea is that they are usually started from seed from December through March, and when all threats of frost have disappeared, they can be planted outdoors. As you can see, it’s a pretty broad definition.
Types of Bedding Plants
There are many types of bedding plants and here’s a short list of the most common that you’ll easily recognize: Snapdragon, Ageratum, Marigold, Morning Glory, Sweet Pea, Lobelia, Stock, Cornflower, Candytuft, Petunia, Panys, Verbena, Zinnia, Viola, Nasturtium, and Salvia are all considered to be bedding plants. Some of these you can recognize as annual bedding plants while others are perennials. All of these bedding plants are “instant gardens” all by themselves when in bloom because they’re very showy and attractive. Vegetable plants and herbs that are also started during this timeframe and considered to be bedding plants tomatoes, basil, parsley, and pepper plants. There are more in this category but these are the more common bedding plants.
How To Grow Bedding Plants Indoors
You don’t need a greenhouse to produce bedding plants, however, a greenhouse is usually ideal. If you have a sunroom or a nice bright room that gets sunshine during the winter months, that will work fine. Another ideal way to grow plants indoors is using a grow light. Grow lights can be purchased in local hardware stores, garden nurseries, or online.
A sunroom is a great way to start bedding plants indoors. All the little pots can sit in the sun or bright light all day and as the plants emerge, they’ll continue to get the light they need and warmth from the sun. Keep the pots lined against the walls and not the windows as windows may have drafts and they’re colder at night than a wall is.
Grow lights make it extremely easy for gardeners to grow their bedding plant seedlings indoors. Grow lights will satisfy the light and heat requirements for seedlings and help them to grow into healthy plants. With grow lights, you can have several of these around the house in different areas.
Why Gardeners Grow Their Own Bedding Plants
As a gardener, I can tell you that there are several good reasons why people grow their own plants. The first and probably the most common reason is because we can. We have green thumbs, usually more than two, and during the cold winter months, we need to fulfill our need to “dig in the dirt”. A pretty little green shoot sprouting from a seedling pot fulfills that need.
Secondly, by growing our own plants, they’re usually healthier than any plant we can buy in the store. We’ve nurtured it, fed it the foods we like, and watched it grow. When it’s time to relocate it outdoors into the garden, we know a lot about this little bedding plant and how it’s been cared for.
Thirdly, it’s cost-efficient. Most gardeners spend a lot of time tending to their gardens each year and researching new plants to add to their gardens. If there’s a particular plant that becomes a favorite, why not start several indoors from seed? Grow a few for the neighbors as some of them will undoubtedly like your plants and want to know where you bought them. There’s a lot of pride in growing things and sharing them.
Where You Can Buy Bedding Plant Seeds
Most local stores will not have their bedding plant seeds for sale until around February. If you want to start your bedding plants earlier than that, drop by your local garden nursery. They may not have their seeds out since most people tend to purchase seeds in late winter/early spring, you may have to ask for the seeds. It’s best to know what bedding plants you want to start from seed so that the nursery staff can find the right seeds for you.
Planet Natural | University of Kentucky | Personal Experience