When To Start Planting Bedding Plants

By | April 23, 2021

When to Start Planting Bedding Plants

Planting bedding plants is an exciting task for any gardener. These colorful and showy plants can transform a drab landscape into a vibrant and cheerful space. However, timing is crucial when it comes to planting bedding plants to ensure their optimal growth and performance.

Factors to Consider

Several factors influence the ideal time to start planting bedding plants. These include:

  • Last Frost Date: The last spring frost date refers to the average date when the last freezing temperature occurs in a particular area. It's crucial to wait until after this date to avoid exposing tender plants to frost damage.
  • Plant Variety: Different plant varieties have varying cold tolerance levels. Some, like pansies, are more cold-tolerant and can withstand light frosts, while others, like petunias, are less tolerant and require warmer temperatures.
  • Climate Zone: The climate zone in which you reside determines the length of the growing season and the average temperatures. Plants suitable for warmer climates may not fare well in cooler regions.
  • Plant Size: The size of the bedding plants you purchase also affects the planting time. Smaller plants may need more time to establish before the last frost date, while larger plants can typically be planted closer to that date.

General Guidelines

As a general rule, it's best to start planting bedding plants 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. This provides ample time for the roots to establish and the plants to get acclimated to their new environment. However, for some cold-tolerant varieties, such as pansies, violas, and snapdragons, planting can begin earlier, around 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.

Determining the Last Frost Date

To determine the last frost date in your area, consult the Farmers' Almanac or local gardening centers. You can also use online frost date calculators to get a more precise estimate.

Preparing the Soil

Prior to planting, ensure the soil is well-drained and fertile. Amend it with organic matter, such as compost or manure, to improve its structure and nutrient content. A soil pH test can help determine whether any soil amendments are necessary.

Hardening Off

Before transplanting bedding plants outdoors, it's essential to harden them off. This gradual exposure to outdoor conditions allows the plants to adapt to the lower temperatures and increased sunlight. Start by setting the plants outside for a few hours during the day, gradually increasing the exposure time over the course of a week.

Planting and Care

When planting bedding plants, dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and just as deep. Carefully remove the plants from their containers and loosen any circling roots. Place the plant in the hole, firm the soil around it, and water well. Provide regular watering and adequate sunlight for optimum growth.


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