The most popular bedding plants

Updated April 17, 2017

Bedding plants add colour and texture to flower beds and borders. Popular varieties are easy to care for and bloom or maintain showy foliage continuously throughout the summer. In the north, bedding plants are mostly annuals but some grow as perennials in the south. Bedding plants can grow in a variety of landscapes depending on the amount of sun they require.

Full sun

Full-sun bedding plants grow best with little or no shade throughout the day. Ageratums produce small, fuzzy blue flowers and make an ideal border plant because they do not typically exceed 20 cm (8 inches) in height. Alyssum is also short in stature with tiny flowers in purples, pinks and white. Easy-growing dusty miller has striking silver-grey foliage with a low profile suited for borders. Bedding geraniums produce flowers in shades of red and pink or white; the ivy-leaved varieties are better suited for baskets and containers. Salvia can grow in full sun or tolerate some shade and can grow to 75 cm (30 inches) tall, depending on the variety. Flowers come in red, pink, purple or blue.

Partial sun

Bedding plants that prefer part sun grow well when they receive sunlight for half the day or full-day filtered sunlight. Begonias can produce white, pink or red flowers with green or bronze foliage and grow 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches) tall. Pansies tolerate cold and may be planted early in spring in most locations. They are well suited for borders.


Shade-loving bedding plants grow best with less than a half day of sunlight or no sun at all. Coleus is prized for its colourful foliage with variegated greens, purples and deep red. Impatiens flowers come in a wide variety of colours, except blue. Lobelia form low-growing mounds of tiny flowers in shades of purple, blue, deep pink and white.

Heat tolerant

Heat-tolerant plants are not bothered by hotter conditions in the south or during the dog days of summer. Petunias tolerate heat well but need adequate water to thrive. They produce flowers in a wide variety of purples, reds, pinks, white and variegated mixes. Portulaca, also called moss rose, grows well in hot sun, especially in rock gardens. The trailing vines produce flowers that look like wild roses. Vincas thrive in hot, sunny conditions and produce pink or white flowers atop glossy green leaves. Marigolds yield yellow, gold, orange or rusty red flowers. The French varieties have small flowers; American and African varieties have larger flowers, Lantana's trailing and bushy varieties produce lots of blooms in shades of yellow, purple, red and white.

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About the Author

Alissa Pond Mentzer worked in biotech research and educational publishing before becoming a freelance writer in 2005. She has contributed to textbooks for The Mcgraw-Hill Companies and National Geographic School Division and writes science articles for various websites. Mentzer earned a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University in anthropology and biological sciences.