How to: Care For Young Plug Plants

Make this the year that your containers and hanging baskets are the best in the street by getting ahead of the game and starting now!

Summer bedding plug plants are in store and if you buy them now while they’re young, you’ll have the joy of seeing them grow into mature plants brimming with stunning blooms – perfect in beautiful pots and hanging baskets.

As an extra bonus, it’s much cheaper to buy plants this way – you’ll have lots more plants for a fraction of the price of buying mature plants in May. All you need to do is grow them on until the risk of frost has passed.

Don’t settle for a few plants per pot – you can buy plenty of plug plants with our great value offers and put on a winning show. Here’s the best way to look after them.

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Buy your young plants – these are seedlings and starter plants that quickly put on growth. We offer the two sizes shown above – smaller plug plants come in these 20-cell packs, start from only 20p each and require a little TLC to grow on.

We also offer starter plants, which have been given a little more time to mature and can be grown on or planted straight into containers, but do need protecting from frost. Begonias, fuchsias, lobelia, verbena, geraniums and petunias are all ideal for pots and baskets.

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As soon as you get your plug plants home, put them in a drip-proof tray and water them with a fine rose. If they’re drooping by the time you unpack them, put a little water in the bottom of the drip tray and the plants will soak it up.

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If you’ve bought plug plants, move them into a slightly bigger cell tray as soon as you can so they have room to grow bigger. Put a little compost (we used John Innes No 1 Young Plant Compost) in the bigger cells so they’re ready to put the seedlings in, as shown here.

Push the plants out from their cells from underneath – if you need to hold them from above, gently hold the seed leaf (cotyledon) as shown here – never the stem. The seed leaves will die off, so you won’t harm the plant.

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You can see the seed leaves here – they’re the first set of leaves and look different to the new growth. 

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Move each plant to a cell and firm it in, adding a little more compost around it if necessary. Water it lightly again, add a label so you know what the plant is, and place the cells in a watertight tray.

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Your plants will need to be kept frost free. Place them in a cool, bright room in the house or in a greenhouse with shading. Avoid direct sunlight, as this will encourage leggy growth – when the plant grows too tall and thin.

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When your plants have grown bigger and ideally before you can see their roots growing out of the bottom of the insert tray, pot your seedlings on to a bigger pot (around 5-7cm), using the same method as before. Remember not to pull the stem.  

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If you have bought the larger starter plants, they will need to be potted on into 5cm pots when you get them home. Firm plants well into their new pots, planting them at the same depth as they were in their starter pots, and water them.

Label your pots and keep them on a watertight tray. As before, place them in a cool, bright room in the house or in a greenhouse with shading. If your plants become too leggy, simply pinch out the tops with your fingertips.

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Before planting hanging baskets in early May, harden your plants off for two weeks. To do this, place them outside in a sheltered spot each day and bring them back in at night. Avoid doing this if temperatures dip below 5°C – a garden thermometer is handy for checking this.

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You can plant starter plants straight into your pots and baskets rather than potting them on, but you’ll need to keep these under cover until the weather warms up. Place taller plants such as geraniums and verbena in the middle, and trailing plants such as lobelia and trailing petunias around the edge.

Here, we’ve used 17 plants in a 14-inch Forge Hanging Basket. They may look small now, but your plants will soon grow to create a basket blooming with beautiful flowers.

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Once your pots or baskets are outdoors, keep an eye on the weather and cover them with garden fleece if frost is forecast. 

Browse our full range of young plants in-store and find out more about them here.

 

 

Checklist

- Your choice of summer bedding plug plants or starter plants
- Cell tray with propagator lid
- Small pots (for planting on)
- Drip tray
- Young plant compost
- Watering can with rose
- Hanging basket with liner or other containers
- Thermometer
- Garden fleece