Unwins Seeds

TOP TIPS for the best autumn bedding displays

24 September 2014 | Posted in Gardening by The Unwins Family

TOP TIPS for the best autumn bedding displays

A colourful garden is easy to achieve in the long, warm days of summer; when summer bedding plants and perennials are eager to flower. But as summer draws to a close and cooler autumn and winter days beckon, we have to be more creative to keep our gardens colourful and interesting. That’s when autumn-planting bedding really comes into its own.

Whether you want to plant up a traditional container display with bedding plants and spring-flowering bulbs, or create a tapestry of colour in beds and borders that lasts from late autumn through to early summer; here are our top tips for getting the most from your autumn bedding plants.

Choose the right plants. Plants need to be hardy to flower in cold weather, but luckily there are plenty of bright and beautiful autumn bedding plants that do just that.

Pansies and violas can tough out the coldest weather; they may look droopy and sad after a hard frost but they’ll soon bounce back and keep flowering. Although most are short-lived perennials, they are normally used as annual bedding plants. They make perfect partners for spring bulbs in containers as well as looking good in beds and borders.   As an added bonus Pansies and violas often self seed to give you plenty of young plants for free.

Primroses, polyanthus and primulas are Hardy Perennials, meaning they’ll come back every year. They’ll flower in mild spells throughout autumn, winter and spring, even peeping through snow. Their flowers can be pale and interesting or brilliantly coloured and they too will self seed especially in borders with moist humus-rich soil.

Wallflowers and sweet Williams are traditionally sold and planted as bare root plants in autumn, ready to burst into bloom just in time to keep spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips company. Both are hardy biennials, meaning they’ll grow leaves and roots in their first year, so when you buy them as bare root plants they’ve already got strong roots and leaves and they’ll be ready to flower earlier in spring.

Foliage Plants. As well as these traditional bedding plants there are hardy evergreen foliage plants that can be used to add interest to bedding displays.

Ivies are perfect for planting in pots and window boxes. Trailing foliage plants always soften the hard edges of containers and they are essential for making the most of hanging baskets and window boxes.

Heucheras, brunnera and ajuga are useful ground hugging plants that keep their leaves in winter so the plants remain attractive. They also help to suppress weeds in beds and borders, and look great in autumn and winter containers too.

Cineraria is a half hardy foliage plant . Although we know it best in the UK as a summer bedding plant, in its natural habitat it’s a perennial sub shrub, meaning it will survive a mild UK winter. It is easy to grow from seed or buy as young plants.  In mild areas and sheltered gardens(Senecio) Cineraria Silver Dust is a wonderful bedding plant. The deeply cut silvery leaves look like snow crystals and are really effective in a winter display. So don’t compost your summer cineraria plants just cut them back and re-use in bedding displays, once established they are surprisingly hardy.

Grasses, especially evergreen ones such as blue fescues or bronze carex are stalwarts of the autumn garden, and they are great plants for containers. Grasses and sedges make an interesting effect used with autumn planting bulbs such as alliums and tulips; in fact the combination of alliums and grasses was everywhere at all the RHS flower shows this year.  Garden designers combined grasses with huge alliums such as Allium cristophii or dainty Allium sphaerocephalon, and this winning look is easy to copy at home. Choose a grass with interesting seed heads and winter colour such as evergreen (or blue or copper!) festucas and carex, or calamagrostis; Stipa tenuissima ‘Pony Tails’ is another  excellent partner for tall bulbs, or you can grow annual grasses such as Hordeum jubatum or Briza from seed.

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