Linda Geist

JACKSON, Mo. – Beautiful flower gardens begin with the right bedding plants, says Donna Aufdenberg, University of Missouri Extension horticulturist.

Before heading to the garden center, research what plants do well in your area, Aufdenberg says. Also consider whether your gardening space is sunny or shady.

Aufdenberg has more tips:

• Choose stocky, short, bushy plants with green foliage. Avoid tall, spindly plants or those with insect damage.

• Choose plants with well-developed root systems. White roots indicate a healthy plant.

• Consider pinching any blooms prior to transplanting, or purchase plants without blooms. This will help the plant focus on root establishment right after transplanting instead of blooming. This will lead to plants that are healthier during the gardening season.

• Harden off plants before planting. Hardening off is the gradual process of allowing a plant to transition from a protected indoor or greenhouse environment to outdoor conditions of fluctuating spring temperatures, wind and full sun exposure. Start moving plants outdoors about 1-1.5 weeks before the weather turns favorable enough for them to live outdoors permanently.

• Check that all cells in the pack are filled.

• Avoid the clearance rack. Stressed plants from clearance racks may disappoint.

Aufdenberg and other MU Extension horticulturists discuss timely gardening issues during the “Weekly Garden Hour” held Wednesdays at noon via Zoom.

Register for the free virtual event and/or ask a gardening question at Sessions are also livestreamed at

Sign up for the Garden Spade, a free monthly gardening e-newsletter, at

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