The right plants and flowers can really make your garden sing, so it’s important to buy the right type and know how to nurture them into bloom.
We sell all different types of plants, like perennials, annuals, plug plants and jumbo plants, and plenty more besides. They all need different forms of care and all grow slightly differently from one another, so in this guide we’ll explain all the jargon and walk you through what to do with each plant type – as well as what to expect when you buy – so you can enjoy your garden to the fullest year after year.
Things to consider
From plant type to colour scheme to soil type, there are several things to consider before you buy.
When to buy
You can only buy some of our plants at certain times of the year in order for them to grow and flourish. Plug plants, our tiniest plants, can be bought from late February through to the end of April, and other types of plants can be bought at varying times after February. If it gets to May and you still haven’t got round to buying anything yet, don’t worry – you can still buy our second-largest plants (Ready plants) if you want to nurture them as they grow, or the two larger versions (Jumbo and Mega) if you’d like your garden blooming sooner.
See what you can buy below during each month, February to May.
Late February: Plug plants March: Plug, Ready, Jumbo and Mega plants (late March for Mega plants April: Plug, Ready, Jumbo and Mega plants May: Ready, Jumbo and Mega plants
If your garden has a theme, think about the colour of the flowers you’re buying. Begonias can create stunning red, orange or yellow displays, while pansies usually add a touch of purple to the mix. Our geraniums come in varying shades of pink and red; if you prefer subtle garden colour schemes, opt for geraniums in soft pink or white. Fuchsias on the other hand, while dainty in form, are ideal for adding a splash of vivid violet or red.
There are plenty more flower types and colours on our site so feel free to have a browse and find some you love.
Sun, shade and space
Is your garden mainly in the sun or shade? If you have lots of shady areas you want to brighten up, choose a plant that will flourish without lots of ligh like impatiens, otherwise known as ‘Busy Lizzies’. These flowers are also great for growing indoors which is great if you’re short on space outside.
Soil or compost type
Different flowers grow well in different soils. Peat-free compost is ideal for tubs, planters and hanging baskets for annual flowers or vegetables, while loam-based/John Innes compost is a good option if want to give your plants more nutrients as they grow. You can get three types of John Innes: one for transplanting seedlings, one for potting up small plants and another for the final planting of your crops. Check out our compost buying guide to read up on the different types so you can be sure you’re buying the right one.
If you’re keen to bring in the butterflies and help prevent the decline in bee numbers in the process, try some of our wildflower seeds. Vibrant poppies will complement a red colour scheme, stunning cornflowers a blue theme, while mixed seeds will give you a beautiful wild meadow appearance. If you’re hesitant to move away from a more manicured lawn but love the idea of encouraging wildlife, try keeping a small patch of wildflowers at the bottom of your garden instead. For more tips, check out our blog below.
One of the advantages of Ready plants is that there is no root disturbance when the plants are potted on. They’re are easy to look after as, just like the name suggests, they are ‘Ready’. They can be planted directly into pots and hanging baskets, though summer flowering Ready plants cannot be put outdoors until the risk of frost has passed.
When you receive our ready plants they’ll measure approximately 6-10cm in height from the root of the plant to the top of the stem.
We have large Mega plants in all the most popular varieties for quick, colourful summer displays. Affordable and ready to be put straight out into the garden for instant results, they’re the ideal 'nursery fresh' solution delivered right to your door.
Mega plants are grown in individual cells and measure approximately 11-16cm in height from the root of the plant to the top of the stem.
Trailing plants are plants with foliage that cascades over the edge of the pot or basket, creating a beautiful luxurious effect. These types of plants are ideal for hanging baskets or indoor hanging pots, and look equally good outside in a large pot or on a border wall.
The word ‘perennial’ stems from Latin and means ‘every year’ (‘per-annual’ – the root Latin word for year is ‘annus’). They flower year after year and are commonly known by gardeners to be plants that grow in beds and borders, which are not trees, shrubs or bulbs. Most perennials live for a long time, with those described as ‘short-lived’ only lasting for a few years.
Annuals need to be planted every year. They’re great for bedding plants as they offer bold bursts of colour, and you can change them annually to vary the look of your garden. Annuals are commonly sold in inexpensive multi-packs.
While annuals live for just one growing season and perennials last for many, biennials have a two-year cycle. In the first growing season they will grow roots, stems and leaves; during the second growing season they’ll flower and produce fruit and seeds. After this, biennials usually come to the end of their lifespan.
After care for Plug, Jumbo, Ready and Mega plants
Once your plants arrive you’ll need to keep the trays indoors in a well-lit, draught-free area for 24 hours.
If the compost is a little dry, stand the tray in shallow water. If unable to water from beneath, spray water lightly over the tray, and then place in a position where there is adequate airflow to dry the excess water from the leaves.
Once the compost is moist, allow the tray to drain.
Afterwards, you’ll need to grow/pot them on, harden them off to get them used to the cooler outside weather and then plant them out. Find out how to do this in our guide.
A note on plug plants
Annual plant plugs need to be grown on in a greenhouse for a couple of months until they’ve reached a good size, and for spring bedding plants, until the risk of frost has passed. When they’re ready they should be hardened off gradually before introducing them to outdoor conditions.
If you haven’t got a greenhouse, don't worry – you can still enjoy growing annual plant plugs. Buy an inexpensive garden frame so you can pop your plugs in there until they’re ready to harden off; even a warm windowsill will work.
What to expect when you place your order
We deliver different plants at different times: Plug plants dispatched first (late February to end of April) as they are younger and need more time to grow. This is followed by Ready and Jumbo plants, while Mega plants are dispatched last (late March to end of May).
Once you’ve made your purchase you’ll be contacted by Gardening Direct with dispatch dates and information, though please be aware that the dispatch dates may vary due to weather conditions.