Documents: Special Interest: Gardening In England:

Don't Wait Until Spring to Get Your Garden Growing

RHS launches autumn planting campaign
by RHS
September 30, 2012

Two generations have forgotten that autumn planting gets gardens in shape for the following year, saves money and helps many plants better establish, according to a survey commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Forty years ago gardeners knew that autumn was a prime time for planting, but today just 12% of people think it is the best time to get plants in the ground, and only 6% of people purchase their plants during the season*.

The RHS is launching a campaign ‘Autumn Planting for Year Round Colour', to promote planting in autumn when the soil is still warm.

This gives plants the head start they need to get established in time for spring when growth is at its peak. Once established, their root systems can cope with summer's dry, warm conditions and plants are less likely to fail.

It is also the ideal time to plant for gardeners to save money. Bare-root plants are available for planting in October and often cost much less than those sold in containers. Any smaller, less-expensive plants that are put into the soil in autumn will establish quickly and perform as bigger and better plants next year.

RHS Director General Sue Biggs says, "While spring is also a great time for gardening, it has totally eclipsed autumn and we've forgotten that this is a prime gardening season as well.

"Many plants are in flower in spring and look especially wonderful after winter, so no wonder we're enticed to purchase - I think it's also a reflection of today's culture wanting immediate results. But smart gardeners can save money and have more success if they get certain trees, shrubs, climbers and herbaceous plants, like peonies, planted now and roses, soft fruit and fruit trees planted in November.

"When gardeners are choosing bulbs in September, hopefully this campaign will encourage them to stop by the tree and shrub areas as well. With the drought this spring and then a washout summer, more than ever we need to embrace autumn gardening to get our outside spaces looking beautiful next year."

The survey of 1,000 people across the UK* also revealed that 80% were not aware that the focus on spring planting is fairly recent and that 40 years ago most gardeners put plants in the ground in autumn and winter.

‘Autumn Planting for Year Round Colour' takes place during September, October and November. At the four RHS Gardens - Wisley, Rosemoor, Hyde Hall and Harlow Carr - there will be talks by gardeners and experts for ideas and advice, free autumn planting cards to take home and basic soil testing advice. There will also be a series of garden events and autumn-harvest events at all RHS Gardens over the weekend of 20 - 21 October. Gardeners can also pick up autumn planting advice and inspiration from specialist nurseries at the Malvern Autumn Show (29 - 30 September), and the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show (23 - 24 October).

On 2 October, RHS Garden Wisley is joining forces with the Horticultural Trades Association to plant hundreds of violas and pansies, demonstrating how to get colour in your garden now and benefit from an even better display next spring.

Nigel Eaton, Head of The Wisley Plant Centre, shares some his favourite plants to put into the ground this autumn:

Plants for colour this autumn

• Caryopteris × clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold' AGM

• Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert' AGM

• Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii AGM

• Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle' AGM

Plants for colour next spring

• Itea ilicifolia AGM

• Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream' AGM

Plants for colour next summer

• shrub rose GERTRUDE JEKYLL (‘Ausbord') AGM

• Raspberry ‘Autumn Bliss' AGM

• climbing rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière' AGM

• Acanthus spinosus AGM

The Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit (AGM) is the highest plant accolade the RHS can give and helps gardeners to make informed choices about plants. This award indicates that the plant is recommended by the RHS.

To find out more about autumn planting visit

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row