Whether in flower beds, containers, hanging baskets or window boxes, summer bedding plants can quickly and economically help create the colorful landscape that so many gardeners crave. Through careful selection, a gardener can grow bedding plants that will thrive despite the sweltering heat of summer.

Bedding plants are classified into two groups based on the temperatures they prefer.

Cool-season bedding plants (such as pansies, dianthus, snapdragons, stock and calendulas) do best in the cold to mild temperatures of October through early May.

Warm-season bedding plants (such as torenia, begonia, marigolds and zinnias) grow and flower best in the warm to hot months of April to October. Because they are sensitive to freeze damage, warm-season plants are planted after the danger of frost is over. Now is the time to plant warm-season bedding plants into new beds in your landscape or as you remove cool-season annuals from existing beds.

True annuals are an important group of bedding plants we use to add color to the landscape. These short-lived plants grow from seed, bloom and die within one growing season. Few true annuals have the stamina to last all the way through our exceptionally long summer growing season of seven months from April to October.

Tender perennials, such as impatiens, periwinkles, blue daze, pentas, SunPatiens and begonias, are often grouped with the true annuals. This is because in most parts of the U.S. they only last one season before dying in winter’s freezes. But these plants do not die after a period of blooming as do the true annuals. If not for winter freezes, these plants would live and bloom for several years — and often do here when mild winters occur.

Tender perennials grown as annuals have more stamina than true annuals in the garden. While true annuals may play out before summer’s end, tender perennials bloom from late spring until cold weather arrives in November. They are an excellent choice for Louisiana flower beds.

Choose bedding plants well-suited to the growing conditions in the location where they will be planted. Sunlight is especially important. For beds that receive at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day, choose sun-loving…