If you want to add some instant colour to a bare and uninspiring wintry garden, winter bedding plants are a great option – and they’re ideal for getting the kids involved with the gardening, too.
Here are three fun ways to grow winter bedding plants from the new book A Year of Nature Craft and Play by Catherine Hughes & Becky Goddard-Hill. The book is filled with 52 gardening projects, art activities, games, crafts and science experiments, all designed to inspire kids to get creative with nature and keep them busy all year.
Plant up a cheery window box
Planting a window box is a really quick and easy way to perk up the outside of your home in winter. With just a few plants, you can create a lovely display of flowers that makes a real impact.
Make sure you choose a window box that’s the right size for your windowsill. If you don’t have a deep enough windowsill for a window box, you can position your container on a garden wall or patio. And because it’s so portable, you can easily move it around if you feel like a change.
Create your own hanging basket
A hanging basket is a simple way to grow lots of fabulous plants in winter, even if you don’t have a garden. You could hang one outside your front door, or somewhere you can see it from inside the house.
A combination of plants that trail and plants that grow upwards is perfect for hanging baskets. It gives you a display which is bigger than the actual container, and allows you to play around with lots of different varieties of plants.
If your basket has a curved base, pop it on top of an empty plant pot or bucket while you’re planting. This will stop it moving around and make things much easier for little hands.
Transform household goods into upcycled containers
Lots of household objects make fantastic upcycled plant pots. Reusing something that would otherwise end up in the bin is a great way to be an eco-friendly gardener, and it’s lots of fun too.
Here are some ideas for things you could upcycle:
- An old pair of wellies
- A kitchen colander
- An old teapot
- Tin cans
- An old tyre
- A watering can
Whatever you decide to use, just make sure you add some drainage holes to the bottom of your container if possible. If you can’t do this – for example, with a teapot – you will need to water your plants carefully.
How to plant your containers
Whether you’re using fun, upcycled containers or traditional plant pots, you’ll need:
- A window box, hanging basket or containers to upcycle
- Selection of winter bedding plants
- Hand trowel
- Gardening gloves
- Once you’ve chosen your container, fill it up with compost until it’s almost full.
- Carefully remove each plant from its pot. The easiest way to do this is by sliding your fingers around the base of the plant, then tipping the plant over and easing the pot off. Try not to damage the roots.
- Turn the plant the right way up and position it in your container.
- Carry on adding plants until your container looks nice and full. You can re-arrange them if you think your display would look better with a different layout.
- When you’re happy with the position of your plants, fill in any gaps around them with more compost.
- Finish by watering your container.
Tips for keeping your containers looking good
Container plants dry out faster than plants that are grown in the ground, and they may need watering even in winter. Check your container regularly by poking a finger into the compost; if it feels dry, you need to get the watering can out!
Remove any dead flower heads regularly. This will keep your containers looking tidy, and also encourage the plants to produce more flowers.
You can also feed your plants with an outdoor plant food, this will help to keep them looking good for longer.
Growing plants in pots and containers is a lovely way to get kids engaged with nature and teach them about how plants grow. A little pot of winter flowers makes a fantastic homemade gift too!
For more fun gardening projects and nature play ideas, check out A Year of Nature Craft & Play which is out now.