Bedding plants tips for success

Just about everywhere you go this month youll find bedding plants for sale. Here are some tips for helping these plants thrive once you get home:

When you have a choice, always choose the plants that are not yet in flower, especially tomatoes and peppers. Its stressful to flower in those small packs and instead of giving you a headstart, these stressed plants will be slower to establish and produce for you.

Take a few days to harden off the plants before setting them in the ground. Gradually increase their exposure to direct sun and wind to reduce their transplant shock. If you must plant right away, erect temporary shelter for the new plants from wind and sun.

Bring a watering can or the garden hose with a shut-off nozzle that produces a soft shower right along with you as you plant. Stop after every pack and give the plants a good soaking. Dont wait until youre finished with the whole job before watering them.

New gardeners dont like this tip, but experienced gardeners have learned from experience that its really true. Pinch off most if not all of the flowers on the plants as you plant them. This is especially true for flowers that have developed a single stem with the flower on top. Pinching off this terminal flower will induce side branching and a much fuller plant with more flowers than those left unpinched. If you dont believe me, try it yourself and see. Pinch off flowers on half the plants and compare their growth in a month.

As you remove each plant from its cell in the pack, look at the roots. If the root ball is mostly white with roots densely packed, use your fingers or a knife to cut through the rootball and spread it apart. Make sure to water these plants immediately, they will recover from the shock quickly and develop a stronger root system than if left alone.

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