Growing on small plants

Buying young plants that can be grown on to flowering and cropping is an easy and convenient way of producing colourful garden displays and productive vegetable gardens.

Young and small plants are a great alternative to growing plants from seed or taking cuttings, especially if you don’t have the room or the facilities to provide the right germination temperatures and temperature and light requirements needed by the seedlings and young plants to grow on before planting outside.

Young plants and seedlings

These young plants need potting on or potting up immediately after they are purchased. You can either pot them individually into small pots or cell trays or transplant them into seed trays. Small pots and cell trays will give better results, as each plant can then produce its own rootball without competition from other plants. Planting out is then more successful, as the plants settle and establish immediately, without any check to growth.

Always use a good potting compost to ensure strong, healthy plants that will perform well in the garden. Keep them somewhere warm and in good overall light, but out of direct hot sunlight, and keep the compost moist, but be careful not to overwater.

Plug plants

Plug plants are more mature and are larger than seedlings. Depending on their size (different suppliers provide various plug plant sizes), they should be potted up individually into 7.5-10cm (3-4in) pots using a good potting compost.

Grow them on indoors with the right temperature and good light until they’ve filled the pot with roots and they’re ready to plant out into their permanent position. This is usually after the fear of frost has passed in the case of summer bedding plants and tender vegetables. Keep the compost moist, but don’t overwater.

Plug plants growing indoors

Bedding plants and vegetable plants

These plants are larger again and have been grown on for longer and are ready for planting out into their permanent positions – whether that’s beds and borders, containers or hanging baskets. They’re usually supplied in 7.5-10cm (3-4in) pots.

Keep the compost well watered so it doesn’t dry out. In the case of summer plants, gradually harden them off, gradually acclimatising them to the colder outdoor conditions for 10 to 14 days, so they are ready for planting out in the garden at the end of May or after the last severe frosts.

Improve the soil with lots of bulky organic compost or planting compost and enrich with a continuous release plant food. Dig a hole to fit the roots and fill in with good soil.

Water the plants in with a soluble plant food applied over the leaves and around the roots. This will encourage quick new growth and help the plants to recover from transplanting shock.

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