container planted with spring plants: daffodils, primulas, ivy

How To Choose Spring Bedding Plants For Containers And Hanging Baskets

Plant your spring containers and hanging baskets with our easy guide

Now that spring finally appears to be around the corner, lambs are in the fields, daffodils are out and the days are longer, why not plant up a container with colourful spring bedding. There are very few bedding plants which flower in spring so add some small bulbs and evergreens to give an extra dimension. Add height with a small conifer, such as Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’ with its greeny gold foliage and lemon scent and place some small ivies around the outside of the pot to soften the edges. Keep the cost down by leaving these evergreens in situ when you plant the containers up for summer; just replace the bedding and bulbs with summer bedding.

You don’t need to be a design guru when it comes to colour schemes for bedding plants you can keep it simple by just using one colour of plant or just go for a riot of colours that are pleasing to you. Make sure that the container or basket has drainage holes in the bottom otherwise they will rot if left standing in water. Place a piece of broken pot over the drainage holes of containers to prevent the hole from blocking with silt. Use good quality peat-free compost and keep them just damp; they don’t usually need a lot of water in winter unless there is a prolonged dry spell. 

Bellis perennis (Daisy)

Bellis perennis (Daisy)

  • Bedding, perennial
  • Plant: September – April
  • Flower: February – April
  • Flower colour: pink, red, white
  • Soil: any, well drained, moist, fertile
  • Where to plant: front of herbaceous border, containers
  • How to plant: poor soil in an herbaceous border may have to be enriched with organic matter
  • Food and water: keep just damp, if too wet will rot
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height and spread: 20 x 20cm (8 x 8”)
  • Tips: can be grown from seed; deadheading essential otherwise they will stop flowering

Myasotis (Forget-me-nots), tulips and hyacinths

Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-me-not)

  • Bedding, annual or biennial
  • Plant: March - May
  • Flower: March – May
  • Flower colour: blue, pink, white
  • Soil: any, well drained, moist
  • Where to plant: front of herbaceous borders, containers
  • How to plant: poor soil in herbaceous borders may have to be enriched with organic matter
  • Food and water: keep just damp, if too wet will rot
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height and spread: 15 x 15cm (6 x 6”)
  • Tips: can be grown from seed; usually self-seeds so you should have a constant supply; can succumb to mildew if they get dry; a simple planting with pink tulips looks stunning

Pink primulas

Primula

  • Bedding, perennial
  • Plant: September - May
  • Flower: September – May
  • Flower colour: vast array of colours
  • Soil: any, well drained, moist
  • Where to plant: front of herbaceous borders, containers, Primula veris (Common Cowslip) and Primula elatior (Oxlip) can be planted as part of a wildflower meadow
  • How to plant: poor soil in herbaceous borders may have to be enriched with organic matter
  • Food and water: keep just damp, if too wet will rot
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height and spread: 30cm (12”) x 15cm (6”)
  • Tips: can be grown from seed

Yellow and purple pansies

Viola (Pansies and Violas)

  • Bedding, usually treat as annual and discarded but can be propagated by cuttings
  • Plant: year round
  • Flower: all year
  • Flower colour: vast array or colours and bi-colours
  • Soil: any, well drained, moist
  • Where to plant: front of herbaceous borders, containers
  • How to plant: poor soil in herbaceous borders may have to be enriched with organic matter
  • Food and water: keep just damp, if too wet will rot
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height and spread: 15cm (6”) x 15cm
  • Tips: can be treat as perennials, just cut back after they have gone over; in a hard frost they will look as if they have died but if the compost is not too wet they will spring back once the frost has gone; deadheading essential otherwise they will stop flowering

Add some of these spring flowering bulbs to your bedding to give added colour and interest. When you plant up the containers with summer bedding the bulbs can be planted in the garden or left to dry out and re-planted the following year.

Anemone blanda

Anemone blanda

  • Bulb, perennial
  • Plant: autumn
  • Flower: March – April
  • Flower colour: pink, white, blue
  • Soil: any, well drained, moisture retentive
  • Where to plant: under deciduous trees or shrubs, front of herbaceous borders, containers, rockeries
  • How to plant: 3 – 4 times own depth
  • Food and water: keep just damp; feed after flowering with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food as this will encourage formation of flowers for next year
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height: 15cm (6”)
  • Tips: plant with wood anemone, primroses and aconites for a natural woodland garden

Purple/lilac crocus

Crocus

  • Bulb, perennial
  • Plant: autumn
  • Flower: February – April
  • Flower colour: gold, white, purple, lilac
  • Soil: any, well drained, moisture retentive
  • Where to plant: under deciduous trees or shrubs, naturalised in lawns, front of herbaceous borders, containers, rockeries
  • How to plant: 2 – 3 times own depth
  • Food and water: keep just damp; feed after flowering with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food as this will encourage formation of flowers for next year
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height: 10cm (4”)
  • Tips: mice love them so may have to protect with chicken wire; if planted in the lawn wait until the foliage has died off before mowing

Iris reticulata

Iris reticulata

  • Bulb, perennial
  • Plant: autumn
  • Flower: April – May
  • Flower colour: purple/blue, yellow
  • Soil: alkaline or neutral, well-drained, moisture retentive
  • Where to plant: front of herbaceous border, containers, rockeries
  • How to plant: 3 – 4 times own depth
  • Food and water: keep just damp; feed after flowering with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food as this will encourage formation of flowers for next year
  • Aspect: sun
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height: 15cm (6”)
  • Tips: ‘Harmony’ flowers in February and is gorgeous grown in a container and brought indoors (the cooler it is the longer they will last)

Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)

Muscari (Grape Hyacinth)

  • Bulb, perennial
  • Plant: autumn
  • Flower: February - April
  • Flower colour: blue, white
  • Soil: any well drained
  • Where to plant: under deciduous trees, front of herbaceous borders, containers, rockeries
  • How to plant: 2 – 3 times own depth
  • Food and water: keep just damp; feed after flowering with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food as this will encourage formation of flowers for next year
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height: 15cm (6”)
  • Tips: mice love them so may have to protect with chicken wire; can be grown in a container and brought indoors (the cooler it is the longer they will last)

Narcissus Jumblie

Narcissus 'Jumblie'

Narcissus (Daffodils, Narcissi)

  • Bulb, perennial
  • Plant: autumn
  • Flower: February - April
  • Flower colour: cream/white/ yellow shades with same shade, pink or red central trumpet
  • Soil: any well drained
  • Where to plant: naturalised under deciduous trees, naturalised in lawns, herbaceous borders, containers, rockeries
  • How to plant: 2 – 3 times own depth
  • Food and water: keep just damp; feed after flowering with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food as this will encourage formation of flowers for next year
  • Aspect: sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height: 15cm (6”) – 60cm (24”)
  • Tips: some varieties such as’ Paperwhite’ and ‘Tete-a-tete’ can be forced into flower for in the home over Christmas  

Orange dwarf tulups

Tulips

  • Bulb, annual
  • Plant: November/December
  • Flower: March - May
  • Flower colour: huge array
  • Soil: any well drained
  • Where to plant: herbaceous borders, containers, rockeries
  • How to plant: 2 – 3 times own depth
  • Food and water: keep just damp; feed after flowering with a high potash fertiliser, such as tomato food as this will encourage formation of flowers for next year
  • Aspect: sun
  • Hardiness: hardy
  • Height: 15cm (6”) – 60cm (24”)
  • Tips: they will grow each year but they are better replaced every year as they tend to weaken and produce smaller flowers

For more information on what to plant in spring just get in touch with our Outdoor Plant team here in store.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer so always used to producing something from the earth, whether it was animals or garden produce. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I also keep a few hens and grow vegetables for my own personal use. I gained a BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management. As a result of this I have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening.