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Twelve favourite bedding plants

Ageratum. Blue (or sometimes white) powder-puff flowers on compact plants. Good for edging.

Alyssum. White or mauve low-growing edging plant. Easy to grow and can be sown in situ if necessary.

Fibrous-rooted begonias. Pink, white and red flowers and fleshy leaves ranging from red to pale green in colour. Dwarf habit, useful for edging. Will stand some shade. Can be potted up for winter and will last for many years, or cuttings can be taken in spring. Outdoor plants brought into a warmish room will flower inside for several months.

Bidens. A comparative newcomer to the bedding plant scene, with yellow, daisy-like flowers, fern-like leaves, and a sprawling habit which makes it excellent for basket, window box and tub planting.

Cineraria maritima. Grey-leaved, perennial useful for foliage effects. Will survive outside most winters. Has yellow daisy-like flowers but these tend to make the plants look untidy and should be removed. Old plants must be cut hard back several times a season to keep them in shape.

French and African marigolds and tagetes. Yellow and orangey-red flowers, ferny leaves. French marigolds are shorter and generally have smaller flowers. African marigolds are more suitable for the back of bedding schemes. Tagetes are similar to French marigolds but have masses of small flowers and finer leaves. This group of plants varies in height from a few inches for the dwarf French varieties to more than 3 ft (900 mm) for some African cultivars.

Bedding geranium (pelargonium). Well known bedding and pot plant in a wide variety of colours from deep red to cerise to white. Sometimes leaves are zoned or variegated. Can be grown from seed and cuttings, and kept from year to year. Older plants tend to be leggy and need to be cut hard back in spring. Trailing forms available for container planting.

Impatiens (busy lizzy). Compact perennial bedding plants easily raised from seed in a wide range of colours. Tolerant of a wide range of conditions.

Lobelia. Low-growing annual in blue, red, white, pink and mixed shades. Useful as an edging plant either on its own or in combination with other dwarf bedders. Trailing forms good in window boxes and hanging baskets.

Mimulus (monkey flower). An increasingly popular bedding plant with similar advantages to impatiens.

Nicotiana (tobacco plant). Trumpet-shaped flowers in most colours and large leaves. Heavily scented at night. Dwarf and taller growing varieties available.

Scaevola. Another semi-trailing newcomer with striking blue flowers and a semi-woody habit. First-class on its own in a hanging pot, or mixed with other bedding plants in containers.

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