Selecting Healthy Bedding Plants
Selecting healthy annual plants, often called “bedding plants,” is an important first step to garden success. It is advisable to select plants at the correct time. The average frost date for the greater Kansas City area is the middle of April. While it is tempting to head to the nursery on a warm day in early spring, chances of annuals being nipped or killed increase. May 1 is an even safer planting time.
Here are some things to consider when doing your shopping:
- Look for plants with uniformly green foliage. Yellowing leaves may signal a problem.
- If possible inspect the root system of the plants by removing one or more plants from the container. Look for a healthy white or pale yellow root system.
- Examine the plant for signs of insects or disease. Especially look underneath the leaves for insects or their eggs. A stippled or dotted appearance may indicate that insects have fed on the leaves.
- Select a plant that is vigorous, bushy, and compact. While it is tempting to opt for the blooming plant, plants that have not yet bloomed will be more vigorous setting down roots. Usually the plant’s label will provide a picture and description.
- If possible, don’t wait too late to buy plants in containers. Often they become stressed after being in the container for a long time. You will generally find that a reputable nursery or garden center provides better plant care, but healthy plants can be found in discount stores and other bargain sites. Just look closely before buying.
Author: Pat Lawson
Wyandotte County Extension Master Gardener
Lynn Loughary, LLoughar@oznet.ksu.edu
County Extension Agent, Horticulture
Wyandotte County, Kansas
Kansas State University Research and Extension