Most people only associate bedding plants with summer, but there are in fact a wide range of bedding plants available all year round. Another misconception is that bedding plants are only annuals. Sometimes bedding plants are biennials, (their growing cycle takes two years), and to complicate things further, some are perennials (plants that flower and grow for several years).
Here are just a few of our favourite winter bedding plants that are available in store:
Winter flowering pansy: a tremendous plant because they are so versatile, they will bloom for far longer than other winter flowering bedding plants and there are dozens of varieties to choose from. Specially bred to flower in very limited light, these will cheer up a garden even on the drabest winter day. Choose bright colours - creamy whites, yellows and pinks, as dark flowers don’t show up so well in winter, and plant them where you can see them out of your windows. Pansies are short-lived perennials, so they are likely to carry on flowering all summer, especially if you deadhead them to encourage repeat flowering.You can also plant your winter pansies into patio pots, containers and baskets as well as your beds and borders, but don’t forget to water them as containers can dry out even in winter.
Violas: These are usually smaller than pansies but more than hold their own. Violas produce an abundance of dainty flowers on neat compact growth for a more subtle display. As versatile as pansies, many violas also have a sweet fragrance too.
Primroses: A cottage garden favourite, modern breeding has given us a plethora of new colours, sizes and improved flowering in primrose plants. No longer flowering for a brief period in spring, modern varieties can now flower from mid-winter onwards in a whole host of bright colours. A great bedding plant for winter, try primroses in beds, borders, window boxes and containers to add sparkle to your garden on dull winter days.
Polyanthus: Compact and bright these plants differ slightly to primroses in that the flowers are produced in umbels on top of short, sturdy stems. As colourful as their cousins and with long-lasting flowers, Polyanthus are superb winter bedding plants for beds, borders, window boxes and containers.