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At the latest when the raised bed is finished with all layers, the question arises: what to plant? Caution is advised here, because only certain flowers and grasses are suitable in the first year.

First planting with heavy feeders

What is special about a raised bed are the individual layers that ensure a continuous formation of nutrients "piece by piece". Freshly layered raised beds have nutrient-rich soil to ensure nutrient levels are at a higher level from the start through to the rotting process. In the course of the first year, so many nutrients are released that only flowers and grasses that have a high nutrient requirement should be chosen for planting, otherwise there will be an oversupply. As a result, this has the effect of over-fertilization and the plants could die off. Therefore, the following applies to planting in the first year: only plant heavily consuming plants.

Exception: autumn/winter planting

As soon as the raised bed is (re)layered in autumn, autumn and winter flowers from the categories medium and weak consumers can be planted directly afterwards. This is possible because the cooler temperatures "block" the formation of nutrients in the raised beds and the rotting process is mainly stopped by frost. As a rule, only nutrients from the uppermost raised bed soil are available, so that there can be no oversupply of nutrients for medium and weakly consuming plants. For example, the following are suitable:

  • Crocuses (Crocus)
  • Snowdrop (Galanthus)
Snowdrops with snow-white flowers
  • Winter heather (Erica)
winter heath
  • Tulips (Tulipa) - can remain in the bed as heavy feeders

Tip: If tulip bulbs are planted, you should not plant annual summer flowers after they have bloomed, because they usually need to be kept evenly moist, but tulip bulbs prefer drought.

First planting annual or perennial

When planting a raised bed for the first time, it is advisable to limit yourself to annual plants. The high nutrient content in raised beds is enormously reduced by the heavy consumers in the first year, so that the soil/layers could be leached out in the second year. Since the nutrient supply of a raised bed through the layers is "planned" for about five years, long-term planting with heavy feeders would lead to excessive soil pollution and can shorten the "lifespan" of the filling. When planting in the first year, it is therefore ideal to ensure that the flowers and grasses are annuals or that perennials at least mostly find a place in another bed the following year so that they do not have to be disposed of.

Tip: However, if several heavy-consuming plants are planted in the first year of planting and remain in the second year, it is advisable to carry out a soil analysis in order to "relieve" the soil with fertilizer if necessary.

start of planting

Officially, the planting year begins in May of each year. When the frost is over, you can start planting flowers and grasses from the ice saints. Of course, the ideal planting time depends on the individual plant species/varieties. The following list presents all the flowers that can be planted in the freshly layered raised bed in the first year of planting.

Heavy-duty flower species

  • Asters (Aster)
  • Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum)
  • Dahlias (Dahlia)
  • Angel's Trumpets (Brugmansia)
  • flame flower (phlox)
Carpet phlox, Phlox subulata
  • Geranium/Pelargonium (Pelargonium)
  • Montbretia (Crocosmia)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Oleander, Nerium oleander
  • Petunia (Petunia)
  • Larkspur (Delphinium)
  • Velvet flower/marigold (tagetes)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
  • Datura (Datura) - Caution: highly poisonous
  • Desert Tail (Eremurus)
Source: Dinkum, Massifs de fleurs - Parc floral 2, edited by Plantopedia, CC0 1.0
  • bidens
Bidens, Goldmarie, Bidens ferulifolia

Grasses for first planting

Many types of grass offer an exciting, varied look in every flower-filled raised bed, but can also be planted in groups to form a great privacy screen. For the first planting in raised beds, however, the following types of grass fall under the heavy feeders:

  • Bamboo species (Bambusoideae) - for a sunny location
Fargesia murielae, umbrella bamboo, Muriel bamboo
  • Japanese forest grasses (Hakonechloa makra) for half-shady, shady locations
Source: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, Hakonechloa macra All Gold kz2, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Pennisetum alopecuroides - for sunny to semi-shady locations - not all varieties hardy
  • Magellanic blue grasses (Elymus magellanicus) - for a sunny location
Source: Хомелка, Elymus magellanicus in Botanical garden, Minsk, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Mosquito grasses (Bouteloua gracilis) - for a sunny location
Source: Pethan, Bouteloua gracilis01, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Palmarosa sweet grass (Cymbopogon martinii) - for partially shaded, shady locations
  • Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus) - for a sunny location
Source: Mokkie, citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) 1, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Prairie Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) - for a sunny location
Source: Daderot, Schizachyrium scoparium - Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - DSC03064, edited from Plantopedia, CC0 1.0
  • Heron feather grasses (Stipa barbata) - for a sunny location
  • Sedges (Carex) - for partially shaded, shady locations
Source: T.Voekler, Carex pulicaris, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Cyprus grass/Indian nut grass (Cyperus rotundus) - for a sunny location - likes it moist
Source: Jeevan Jose, Kerala, India, Cyperus rotundus in Kadavoor, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

mono and mixed cultures

Theoretically, you can only plant a single favorite flower in a raised bed. If this is just a one-year planting, there is nothing to be said against it. However, if it is a perennial species, you should know the difference between monoculture and mixed culture in order to be able to make ideal decisions for the first raised bed planting.


A monoculture is a planting that consists of a single type of flower. That would be the case if you only plant bamboo grasses, for example. The disadvantage of monoculture is that the plants are more susceptible to pests and diseases, especially infections. Fungi can also form faster in the layers, which under certain circumstances not only "attack" the plants, but also the wood material from which raised beds are often made. In principle, experienced hobby gardeners and experts recommend only considering a monoculture for raised beds if another plant species replaces it at the latest in the following year.

mixed cultures

A mixed culture is when different types of plants are planted in one bed. For example, a combination of flowers and grasses is ideal for the initial planting of a raised bed, with a mix of different types of flowers providing the best case. This is based on the fact that the risk of infestation is minimized by several different plant species, due to their correspondingly different susceptibility to pests and diseases. In some cases, they can also protect each other, for example when grasses keep snails at bay, which otherwise like to tamper with the planted geraniums or asters.

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