People love growing bedding plants. They are so colourful and, if you grow your own from seed or buy trays of young plants when they’re on offer at nurseries and DIY chains, you can get months of blooms for very little cash outlay.
But summer bedders such as pelargoniums tend to be sun-lovers, and while most gardens have plenty of warm spots in which to grow and show them, there are always likely to be a couple of shady places where flowering plants will always struggle to make an impact.
But while most bedding plants love the sun, there are exceptions; plants which, although they prefer the bright light, will still give a reasonable show where the sun doesn’t always shine.
Lobelia, for instance, can tolerate even deep shade. The same goes for those wonderful fibrous-rooted begonias which seem capable of flowering non-stop from May right through until the first frosts, when they turn to mush.
Mimulus (the monkey flower) should also do well in shade, and you can even try busy lizzies (Impatiens) although they’re unlikely to be as prolific as those soaking up the sun because the biggest difference with growing bedding plants in shady spots is that the plants tend to flower slightly less well and grow taller, but that’s as small price to pay for the benefit of colour.
A guaranteed way of getting quality flowers – wherever you want them in the garden – is to put your bedding plants in containers. Nothing too big, obviously, because if they are portable you will be able to move them around – one day they can be sitting on a sunny patio, the next they can be brightening up an area beneath bushes or a monotone hedge.
This way, you don’t need to be as choosy – the majority of bedding plants will survive a few days in the shade as long as you then get them back into the light.
Just remember that you’ll have to water and feed containers regularly to keep them going until autumn. Incorporating a slow-release fertiliser in the compost will certainly help, but you’ll still need to supply the water.
And plants in pots are more prone to pest attack – it pays to check on a regular basis for any signs of problems.