When to plant winter bedding plants

Although the weather is getting worse and you’ll want to spend less time outside, winter gardens need love too! Bedding plants can add a great amount of interest and colour to the garden in the colder months, brightening your outside space and lifting up your spirits in the dark days of winter. Most bedding plants only bloom during spring/summer, adding winter bedding allows you to extend the flowering season of your outside space.

When to plant

The best time to plant your winter bedding plants is during September and early October. This is due to the lingering warmth in the soil during this pre-winter timeframe, which prepares your plants to produce more flowers over winter. This time period also helps to give your plants a better chance to grow sturdy roots and flowers, and support faster growth.

When is it too late to plant?

Since the plants use the lingering warmth from September and October, it is best to get the plants into the ground before the first frost. Some of the hardier winter species, like pansies, can be planted late October to November time. The main reason for planting winter bedding earlier is to ensure that the plants have had enough time to develop robust roots. With a strong foundation, firmly cemented in the ground, it makes the plants more likely to survive a harsh winter.

Most popular winter varieties

Pansies

Pansy Autumn Blaze Mix (Garden Ready)
Pansy Can Can (Garden Ready)

Primula

Primrose Scentsation Raspberry Ripple
Primrose Blue Chameleon

Polyanthus

Polyanthus Snow White (Maxi Plugs)
Stella Pink Champagne (Maxi Plugs)

Tips to help care for your winter bedding plants

  • Pinch out flower heads that have finished blooming to preserve nutrients. But don’t worry, new buds will appear, producing more flowers that will last for longer.
  • Fertilise your plants after planting, during late autumn and again in spring.
  • It may be winter, and our plants may be sturdy but ensure that they’re facing the sun to help them thrive.
  • Check your plants weekly for any dryness and water as needed.

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What to Plant in December

With the start of December comes colder weather and shorter days, but will that put us off pottering around the garden? Absolutely not! There’s plenty to do, so if you’re wondering what to plant in December, you’re in the right place.

From summer bulbs, to hardy shrubs, there’s lots to do and plant this month in your garden.

Begonias

Begonias are a summer staple. Now that you’ve decided what you want to plant for your spring garden, it’s time to give some thought to your summer garden! Begonias are colourful and bright – the perfect addition to any summer garden that are sure to give you that summer feeling.

Begonia Samba Mixed
Begonia ordorata Pink Delight

Tulips

Forgot to plant your tulips? Never mind, there’s still time to get them in the ground before the first winter frost. The former part of December can be just warm enough for the bulbs without causing any damage. Perfect for when you’re at a push!

Triumph Tulip Collection
Tulip Lasting Love

Strawberries

If you’re planning on growing your own fruit next year, then December is the perfect time to plant your strawberry plants in the ground. A brilliant choice for those with allotments.

Strawberry All Season Collection
Strawberry Everbearer Albion

Indoor Bulbs

If you’re still unsure of what to plant in December and none of the above tickles your fancy, then indoor bulbs could be your saving grace. These beauties are perfect for planting around September to December and you’ll see them appear in mid-late winter, depending on when initially planted.

Amaryllis Magic Green
Narcissi Erlicheer

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How to protect plants from frost

Frost garden

With the colder days drawing closer, before the frosty mornings are upon us, it’s time to put in place the right protection for your plants, so they’re ready for the harsh winter weather. Submitting your plants to the winter elements without protection can result in blackened, distorted or limp growth and a browning of the leaves of your plants. Since in the UK, there may be between 7 and 10 nights where the temperatures are below freezing, keep reading to learn how to protect plants from frost this winter.

Winter pansies

When to protect your plants

The best way to seek to minimise frost damage is to prevent it in the first instance, rather than seeking a cure after it has happened. Put all frost protecting measures in place at the first sign of frosts.

Winter plant protection

How to prevent frost damage

Use protective wrappings such as bed sheets, blankets to cover tender and vulnerable plants. This acts like insulation, keeping warm air from the ground around the plant.

More frost protection tips:

  • Place plants in frost-resistant spots
  • Lift and store tender perennials
  • Avoid frost pockets
  • Cover plants before nightfall
  • Protect plants with cloches
  • Warm plants with water jugs
  • Water before a frost
  • Bring potted plants indoors
  • Wrap fruit trees

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winter garden
Flower bulbs

Preparing Your Garden for Winter

preparing your garden for winter

Preparing your garden for winter is probably the last thing you want to do as the air gets colder and the days get shorter. However, if you spend just a few hours a day getting everything prepared before the first frosts of the season, it could save your plants from facing an early demise.

Ready to get started? Read on to find out how.

Border Maintenance

prepping your garden borders

Cut back your perennials and dying plants closer to the ground as they start to die down. Tidy your borders by removing any weeds and debris so there’s less work come spring.

Give Shrubs and Trees Some Love

fruit trees

Prune unruly shrubs into your preferred shape and cut back any damaged branches from trees. This helps them to be in the best possible shape they can before winter hits.

Plant Protection

protecting plants for winter

If you have access to a green house, move potted plants in for the duration of winter. If you’re worried about deciduous trees and shrubs, their bare roots can be lifted and stored until spring to avoid the root dying through any frost.

Take a Well Deserved Break

taking a break with a cup of tea after preparing your garden for winter

And finally, once you’re done preparing your garden for winter, take a well deserved break! This year especially has taken its toll on all of us, and in the run up to winter it’ll be more important than ever to look after ourselves.

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How to Grow Indoor Amaryllis

indoor amaryllis christmas gift

Loved by beginners and experts alike due to their superb flowering potential and minimal effort, it’s the well-loved Amaryllis bulb. Hippeastrum or Amaryllis bulbs are very easy to plant and will flower indoors during the winter months, producing spectacular showy flowers in a huge range of colours and shapes.

Indoor Amaryllis makes an excellent potted plant and are available in two different bulb sizes – the standard 26cm+ bulbs which will produce two stems per bulb, or our giant 34cm+ Amaryllis bulbs which are the largest on the market and will produce three stems per bulb.

We have a wide range of popular Amaryllis bulbs to choose from, which you can find here.

How to Plant Your Bulbs

To plant your indoor amaryllis, all you need are rocks for drainage, multi-purpose compost, a medium to large sized pot, and the bulb itself. Place your rocks at the bottom of your pot. All you need is a shallow layer which helps with drainage. Next, fill your pot with soil halfway and pop your bulb into your pot.

Put compost around the bulb so that it’s anchored in place, but don’t fully cover the bulb. Leave the tip poking out the top so that it grows properly.

Aftercare

Once you’ve planted your bulb, try not to over water it. This will cause the bulb to rot.
After the amaryllis has stopped flowering, it can be made to flower again.  Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.

Follow our simple step by step guide here or click on the link below to watch our garden expert Jeff Turner in our video tutorial on planting these winter flowering beauties!

December Plant of the Month: Holly

The British countryside is experiencing a bumper crop of holly berries this autumn, thanks to perfect weather conditions in 2018. So the traditional Christmas plant is putting on its best display in over 20 years. As well as being a symbol of the festive season, the common native evergreen provides vital winter food for animals and birds and makes Holly the perfect plant of the month for December. Get yours in time for Christmas!

Keep reading to check out our favourite evergreen Holly plants, a handy guide for planting Holly in borders and containers.

Top Products

Once planted, Hollies resent disturbance, so buy younger, smaller plants are the way to go as these are easier to establish in the garden. So, take a look below at our bestselling varieties.

Holly Hedging (English Holly)

A brilliant hedging plant. Forming a dense prickly barrier, English Holly is a welcome source of food and protection to wildlife in the winter. Their glossy evergreen leaves and bright red and orange berries are a beautiful sight during the festive season.

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Holly Blue Angel

A classic winter wonder. This popular evergreen bush produces vivid red fruits and dark olive leaves and can be grown outside for years to come for bigger and better displays each Christmas.

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Holly Ingramii

Our superb, premium Holly variety. This new variegated Holly is ideal as a feature shrub or very prickly barrier hedge. The glossy, dark green leaves are patterned with a broad, irregular, speckled, cream margin.

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Holly Ornamental Collection

An outstanding collection of Hollies. These colourful evergreens produce striking red berries from December. The collection includes one of each variety: ‘Sharpy’, ‘Golden Van Tol’ and ‘Aurea Marginata’ and one male ‘Blue Prince’.

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Holly Argentea Marginata

An awe-inspiring evergreen tree that looks great in every garden. With masses of bright red winter berries and lustrous, silvery dark green leaves, why not add a festive staple into your garden?

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Flowering Trees For Your Garden

First launched in 1975, #NationalTreeWeek is the UK’s largest tree celebration, annually launching the start of the winter planting season. Take this fantastic opportunity to discuss the importance of trees to our planet as well as key environmental issues, so get inspired to plant through our fantastic selection of bestselling trees.

Here’s our top 10 flowering trees to spruce up your landscape and help the planet.

Prunus Kanzan (Japanese Flowering Cherry)

One of the most popular Japanese flowering cherry trees, Prunus ‘Kanzan‘ is loaded with pinkish/purple double flowers with a frilly edge. The flowers bloom from March until its bronze foliage begins to unfurl. The bronze coloured leaves turn green before adopting burnt orange colours in autumn.

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Magnolia ‘Nigra’

Holder of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, Nigra is a beautiful Magnolia variety. Their tulip-shaped deep purple-pink flowers blossom in late spring and add an exotic touch to the garden border. Also, their blooms are fragrant and well-loved by pollinators.

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Amelanchier canadensis

This bushy little tree that provides interest all year round, with masses of white flowers in spring followed by red, edible fruit in summer (get them before the birds do!). One of the most striking plants for autumn colour with its vivid flamed leaves.

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Cercis ‘Avondale’ (Chinese Redbud)

A real showstopper. This phenomenal tree is the centerpiece of any spring garden. The rich magenta pink flowers bloom on bare stems in late spring before the large heart-shaped green glossy leaves emerge and turn into a vivid yellow in autumn.

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 Eucalyptus (Cider Gum Tree)

Fast growing and easy to care for. This extremely hardy tree is tall and slender, with almost blue young foliage. Pretty white flowers emerge in early summer and their sprigs of grey-blue foliage can also be brought inside and used in cool-themed flower arrangements!

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Viburnum Opulus Roseum (Snowball Tree)

Brighten up the summer garden with this vigorous, deciduous shrub. The large and fragrant pompom-like white floral clusters bloom in late spring. In autumn, vibrant red berries appear and are an excellent food source for birds throughout the cold months.

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Wisteria multijuga

A winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, Wisteria ‘Multijuga‘ is one of the most desirable varieties of Japanese Wisteria on the market today. Noted for its excellent fragrance, their trailing clusters of highly fragrant lilac flowers bloom from May through to September.

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Apple Cox’s Orange Pippin

The definitive English desert apple with an aromatic flavour. This red tinted apple ripens in October and is ready to pick. During April and May, the tree itself develops beautiful white flowers that attract butterflies and birds into the garden.

Click here to view online.

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October Plant of the Month: Heather

A terrific plant that deserves a spot in any garden. They may be small, but Heather are inexpensive, evergreen plants that provide colour even in the coldest months. Originating from the Scottish Hylands, transform any garden border, patio or rockery with the vibrant floral clusters of Heather and turn any garden into a carpet of dazzling colour.

To celebrate Heather as our plant of the month, we have selected our best Heather mixtures and collections on offer, as well as ideal planting partners, a planting guide and even some traditional folklore about Scotland’s national flower.

Top Varieties

Winter Flowering Collection

These small Heathers make a big impact with their masses of tiny blooms that flower all winter long into the spring. This collection of low-growing evergreen shrubs make excellent and colourful ground cover.

 

Winter Mixed (Erica)

One of the hardiest of the Heathers. This wonderful mix of Erica Heather are low and quick growers, which will form eye-catching mats of pink, white, purple of red blooms. The perfect plant to compliment early spring bulbs.

 

Summer/Winter Collection

Fill your garden with beauty all year round with this collection. Our summer Heathers bloom from July-October, while our winter Heathers flower from December to February. Plant en masse on a slope and an impressionist’s landscape will burst into life.

 

Summer Mixed (Calluna)

Among the most hardiest and most varied of all Heathers. Appearing from mid-late summer, these showy flowers practically glow with their bright and beautiful shades. An easy to grow contender for adding to cottage gardens or as ground cover.

 

Looking for some floral inspiration? Here are some tips on companion planting with Heather…

When planted en masse, Heathers and Heaths make a swath of tones and foliage with easy appeal and graceful texture. Adding some dimension to such plantings further enhances the garden area and increases interest year around.

Rhododendrons & Azaleas

A classic Heather companion. They crave the same acidic soil and consistent moisture on which Heather thrive. You can even feed Heather with a Rhododendron fertiliser.

 

Pansies

When planting Heather in containers, keep it simple by accenting them with beautiful hardy Pansies. An excellent pot plant that grow well with Heather.

 

Lavender

Smaller flowering plants compliment Heather and bloom at different times, thereby extending the bloom show. The look of Lavender and Heather together is a real showstopper.

 

Click here to view our full range of Heathers.

Create a Wonderful Winter Haven for Birds

Birds can play a vital role in the garden’s ecosystem, from natural pest controllers to simply bringing joy and life to the garden. By choosing the right plants, you can produce both food and cover for garden birds all year round. There are lots of ways to give bird populations a boost, from creating nesting shelters to planting shrubs rich in berries.

In this week’s blog, we have listed the top bird-friendly shrubs to provide bird food and shelter to handy and simple crafts and tips to attract these wild visitors to the garden.

Top Bird-Friendly Shrubs

Holly Blue Angel

A classic winter wonder. Holly Blue Angel produces shiny evergreen foliage with an unusual blue tinge on the leaves and masses of red berries in the winter. When birds need a source of food in the winter, Holly berries are the perfect snack.

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Holly Hedging (Ilex aquifolium)

A brilliant evergreen hedging plant. It is slow growing, low maintenance and acts as a deterrent with its dense prickly barrier. With bright red and orange berries in winter, this native plant is a great source of food and shelter for birds.

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Pyracantha Victory

A robust Pyracantha. Producing masses of red berries in summer and clusters of white blossoms in summer, this decorative shrub adds plenty of interest for wildlife as a spot for nesting birds and they contain an abundance of pollen for bees.

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Pyracantha Golden Charmer

A beautiful and useful shrub. With sprinklings of white June blossoms followed by masses of golden berries, this multi-tasking plant is a great climbing, specimen or screening plant and is also well-loved by birds in the winter.

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Quickthorn/Hawthorn Hedging

This popular British Native hedge can withstand harsh winds and temperatures and the thick and thorny branches make an excellent barrier. Red berries appear during the autumn months to tempt hungry birds to the garden.

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Crataegus Pauls Scarlet

This robust little shrub blooms with beautiful pink spring blossoms amongst bright green foliage. Even in the winter, the stout, interweaving branches and their red berries act as a nesting sight and food source for birds.

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Virginia Creeper

This climbing vine is perfect for adding autumn colour to the garden. At different times of the year, this vigorous creeper provides fruit, caterpillars and nesting material for birds. Its dense leafy cover also makes great shelter.

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Boston Ivy

You won’t find a more dramatic sight in autumn than a Boston Ivy. Their leaves change from a summer green to a bright crimson in the autumn. This variety produces clusters of dark blue berries that are a perfect food source for hungry birds.

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Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’

This winter-flowering Honeysuckle produces masses of fragrant, creamy-white flowers. In autumn, it provides berries and shelter for birds and in summer, the scented flowers attract insects; a great food source for birds.

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Lonicera Kamtschatica (Honeyberry)

When ripened in late-spring to early summer, Honeyberry fruit is a treat that shouldn’t be missed. This hardy, edible Honeysuckle is loved by birds and other wildlife for their delicious berries.

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Bird Gardening Tips

It’s easy to attract birds to the garden, here are some bird-friendly gardening tips that you can do in any outdoor space, big or small.

DIY Bird feeders/boxes

Turn your garden into a desirable home for birds from winter through to spring with a cosy nestbox. You can even make your own  mini nature reserve for them if you’re handy. The best weatherproof and secure material for constructing your own is wood.

Install feeders

Garden birds benefit  from feeding all year round. Place feeders high off the ground. Use wire mesh feeders for peanuts and seed feeders for other seed. Where cats are a problem, use a bird table where cats cannot reach. You can even make your own by simply using sticking bird seed to a toilet paper roll using peanut butter and using string to hang them from a branch.

Bird baths

Many birds will use bird baths and ponds for bathing, so urge birds to seek out your garden as their one-stop shop for their daily routines. Keep an eye on your bird bath over winter to ensure they don’t freeze over in the cold temperatures.

Winter/Spring Bedding Plants for a Colourful Garden

Our range of winter/spring bedding plants will breathe life, colour and interest into your garden wherever you decide to plant them. Perfect for beds and borders, winter bedding plants are ideal for adding to plant pots and containers on the patio. With our amazing maxi plug plant range, you won’t find cheaper top quality winter bedding plants to fill your garden with bright blooms to chase away the cold winter weather.

Also, check out our planting guide below on tips and tricks on how to plant and grow plug plants and view our informative plug planting videos.

Primulas

Lift your spirits with the bright colours of Primulas. Hardy and easy to grow, these cheerful perennials provide a wide range of shapes and sizes in almost every colour imaginable and are perfect for any  garden, big or small.

Primula Cottage Cream

With their beautiful cream/white petals with orange centres, Cottage Cream Primula are an old-fashioned, much loved Primrose. These flowers are best planted in patio pots, containers or at the front of the garden border.

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Primula Emotions Mixed

Our new Primula mix will give you an amazing rainbow of colours until the late spring. Easy to grow, they make the ideal plant for borders, patio pots and containers. Slightly scented, these amazing flowers will bloom from January all the way through to April.

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Primula Husky Raspberry Punch

A new and colourful Primula. Producing pretty pink flowers with a bright yellow centre, they will give the garden a burst of joy through the gloomy winter months from January until April. Perfect for dazzling in the front of the border.

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Pansies

Pansies are the colourful flowers with “faces.” A cool-weather favourite, pansies are great for both autumn and spring gardens! Pansies have heart-shaped, overlapping petals and one of the widest ranges of bright, pretty colours and patterns.

Pansy Trailing Cool Wave

The Best Trailing Pansy Ever! This amazing large-flowered series keeps flowering all winter long, and well into spring too. Endless waves of simply gorgeous flowers in shades of golden yellow, violet, mauve, berry purple and white.

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Pansy Can Can

A stunning double winter flowering plant. Can Can is a fun and unusual variety with frilly, layered blooms of wavy and vibrant petals. These beautiful bedding plants will provide long-lasting colour throughout winter.

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Pansy Winter/Spring Mixed

A well-loved high performer. Creating a splendid display of colour, Pansies carry on flowering right through to spring and in such a beautiful variation of colours. Also, these super hardy plants can withstand a dusting of snow in the winter.

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Polyanthus

One of the most popular bedding plant varieties on the market. Blooming their hearts out for weeks and brightening the dullest days, the highly versatile Polyanthus are perfect for creating impressive floral displays from autumn and throughout spring.

Polyanthus Fire dragon

Fire Dragon is a beautiful rosette-forming flower that produces large, yellow petals which are flamed and frilled orange-red at the edges. A delightful sight at the front of the border. What is unusual about this variety is its amazing scent.

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Polyanthus Crescendo Spring Fever Mix

Create brilliant colour with our Polyanthus Crescendo Spring Fever Mix. Blooming with cheerful orange, yellow and white flowers throughout autumn and spring, they are ideal for brightening up containers and borders.

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Polyanthus Crescendo Rainbow Mixed

Paint a rainbow with the bold splashes of colour in this mixture of Polyanthus flowers. Flowering from autumn and providing vibrant flowers right through to spring, where it will compliment your bulb display beautifully.

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Violas

These little shining showstoppers are a beautiful modern flower for any garden. Free flowering and with a soft fragrance, Violas are perfect for adding something unique to the garden that provides a big impact.

Viola teardrops pink blush

Bring a touch of romance to the garden with Pink Blush. Their soft pink flowers with cheerful yellow centres are ideal for winter/spring baskets and window boxes. Flowering from January-April, enjoy this Viola’s lovely soft spring fragrance.

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viola teardrops yellow jump up

Create a cascade of winter colour with these yellow and purple flowers. This free-flowering Viola is ideal for winter and spring baskets, containers and window boxes, flowering from January through to April.

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Viola Teardrops Mixed

The perfect solution for brightening up the garden in the winter months. This semi-trailing bloomer showcases a range of bright and bold colours and is the perfect plant for winter and spring hanging baskets and containers.

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Continue reading Winter/Spring Bedding Plants for a Colourful Garden