How to grow on plug plants

How to grow on plug plants

Alan Titchmarsh takes you through the simple process of growing on plug plants in this quick guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is not at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is at its best in June

Plant is at its best in July

Plant is at its best in August

Plant is at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Plug plants are much cheaper to buy than fully grown plants, and easier to grow than plants from seed. Learn how to grow on plug plants and you’ll reap the rewards.

Commonly annual, bedding or vegetable plants, plugs are bought online from specialist nurseries. On arrival, unpack them straight away and stand them in water until the compost is moist. Before potting on, leave them to settle in a warm, well-lit room for up to 24 hours.

How much care plugs require before being planted out varies by their size:

  • Mini plugs are the first to arrive, from early March, and these need the most care and time to grow on in trays or pots.
  • Standard plugs come next and require potting and growing on for a month or so if you want to use them as filler plants for beds and containers.
  • Garden-ready plugs can be planted out straight away, if it’s warm enough, but can also be grown on for a few weeks in a large pot, for sturdier roots.

Related content:

Watch Alan’s video guide and follow the easy steps to learn how to grow on your plug plants.

Mini plugs are the first to arrive, from early March, and these need the most care and time to grow on in trays or pots.
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You Will Need

  • Pencil
  • Dibber
  • Multi-purpose, peat-free compost
  • Small pots
  • Perlite

Total time:

Step 1

Mix together equal parts of multi-purpose compost and perlite for an open, free-draining compost. Then, gently remove each plug from its module, by pushing up from the bottom with a pencil.

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Buy multi-purpose compost from Thompson and Morgan

Removing the plugs from their cells
Removing the plugs from their cells

Step 2

Choose the right size pot, somewhere between 7 and 9cm depending on plug size and fill it with the compost mix, tapping the pot so that it settles and leaves a gap at the top to make watering easier. Using a dibber or your finger, make a hole in the centre of the compost, slightly bigger than the plug.

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Making a hole in the compost
Making a hole in the compost

Step 3

Holding each plug by its leaves or the rootball, carefully place it in the hole. Tap the pot to firm the compost gently around the plug and ensure the roots spread as the young plant grows.

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Planting the plugs into individual pots
Planting the plugs into individual pots

Step 4

When all the plugs have been planted, water with a fine rose so that the compost is not disturbed. Keep on a bright windowsill or in the greenhouse for four to five weeks, potting on once for trailing plants, or twice for specimen plants.

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Watering the potted plug plants
Watering the potted plug plants
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A couple of weeks after potting on, both mini- and standard plugs will benefit from feeding. Compost contains some fertiliser, but you’ll get better growth by giving plants a balanced liquid feed, every 10 to 14 days.

Buy general liquid feed

Plug plant cut out