Quick, easy and cheap, “plugs” are basically well-developed seedlings that you pot on once before planting out. They are ideal if you do not have the space or time to sow seeds yourself, and they are the simplest option for plants that are difficult to germinate. Mail-order companies tend to offer the largest selection of bedding and tender perennial plugs, and they usually cost a fraction of the price of fully-grown plants.
When to start: Spring.
At their best: Late spring to autumn.
Time to complete: 1½ hours.
You will need: Plug plants like begonias for example, dibber or pencil, potting soil, large modular trays or small 3 in (8 cm) plastic pots, watering can.
Order your plugs
When ordering plugs, make sure you will have time to pot them up soon after they arrive—most companies specify when they will be delivered. Plugs are also known as “miniplants” or “easyplants,” and companies may offer them at different stages of development. The youngest plugs will be cheapest.
Remove plugs from container
When the plugs arrive, water well and store them in a cool, frost-free place. Fill large modular trays, or small 3 in (8 cm) pots, with good-quality potting soil, designed for seedlings and young plants. Using the blunt end of a pencil or a dibber, gently push the plug plants out of their original containers.
Plant up in modules
Make a hole with your finger or a pencil in the compost in the modules, and insert a plug plant in each. Firm the soil around the plug lightly with your fingers, taking care not to compact it or to damage the roots.
Keep plants watered
Water the plugs using a can fitted with a fine rose, and keep them in a cool, light, frost-free place. Water regularly, harden off, and plant out in pots, or in the ground, when all risk of frost has passed.