The weather has been glorious and we think summer is almost here, and with it the temptation to buy and plant bedding plants. April is too early anywhere in the country because the risk of frost is present. Most bedding plants are not frost hardy which means they will be damaged, possibly killed by a frost and certainly the cold will shock the plant, which will often result in arresting growth for a while. Understanding what is mean by frost hardy is really helpful to gardeners, especially as plant labels seem to contain less and less information.
Illustrated left is Fuchsia, a lovely popular bedding plant which originates from Central and South America. Also from South America are Petunias, Begonia, Pelargoniums (Geraniums) are from South Africa, Marigolds are originally from Africa. These origins give us a clear hint why we need to wait until we have warmer weather before planting out our most popular bedding plants.
The arrival of spring varies by several weeks across the country, and the risk of frost passes in southern England a good time before in Central and Northern England. As a rule of thumb the country is generally frost free by the end of May, although there maybe some risk still on high ground because the higher the altitude the colder the area.
More information about when and how to plant out bedding plants
Equally, if you garden in a sheltered spot in southern England experience of your area maybe that you are safe to plant out in Mid May. To avoid the risk of frost damaging your plants, or trying to protect them if we have a sudden cold spell, plant out in the last May bank holiday.
You can, of course, buy bedding plants earlier and grow them on in a greenhouse or lean to. This is a good way to buy the more economical smaller plants and bring them on in the greenhouse. Plant up containers and hanging baskets and keep them in the comfortable climate of the greenhouse before putting out for the summer.