How To Plant Up A Trough With Summer Bedding Plants

How To Plant Up A Trough With Summer Bedding Plants

Brighten up your windowsill with a trough full of colourful bedding

You will need for a 45cm (18”) trough:

  • windowsill trough
  • plants: 4 tall upright plants for the back; 10 normal bedding plants and 6 trailing plants for the front
  • multi-purpose compost
  • controlled release fertiliser
  • water retention gel
  • trowel

Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the trough.


 Fill half full with good quality peat-free compost.

Mix in the required amount of fertiliser and water retention gel.

Water retention gel can mean the difference between living and dying if there is a dry spell. You will need to feed with Tomorite every week towards the end of summer to ensure they go on flowering into autumn. If you don’t use the controlled release fertiliser, start feeding with Tomorite every week as soon as they start to flower.

Summer bedding plants

Arrange the plants; tall uprights at the back, ordinary bedding in the middle and the trailers at the front. To keep the cost down fill gaps with a cheap pack of trailing lobelia to make the trough look full and lush. Use a cheap pack for the middle row; marigolds, petunias and use the more expensive single pots of plants for the back and the trailers. If you want to use the trough for spring bedding you can keep the cost even lower by planting small conifers at the back and using some trailing ivy at the front, then all you have to do is replace the few flowering plants each season, top up with fresh compost and add a little more controlled-release fertiliser. 

Fill the gaps with compost to within about 2cm (1”) of the rim to allow for watering, if the compost is up to the rim when you water it will just run off instead of penetrating the compost.

Keep compost just damp, place in a warm, well lit position until all danger of frost has passed. If you put them out once the days have warmed up but before the danger of frost has passed keep an eye on the weather, you will have to cover them if there is a frost forecast.

Summer bedding plants

If you want a quick easy trough just stick to one plant, such as geraniums. These are usually available in a larger pot, so you would probably only need 3 or 4 in a trough, and they will just take minutes to plant.

The plants used in our trough are:

  • fuchsia - Beacon
  • petunia - lilac
  • calibrachoa - purple
  • bacopa - white
  • lobelia - upright white


Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.