Head gardener Benjamin Pope is here to make sure your garden looks great all year round. His practical gardening magazine column series continues all year round, and his tips on what to plant in October are a taster of what you can expect. For the full column, subscribe to Gardens Illustrated magazine.

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Don't miss our suggestions of the best flowers in October, what gardens to visit and the gardening jobs for the month.

What to plant in October

Autumn is the perfect time for planting, with moisture and warmth in the soil to promote root growth. Container-grown plants, including trees, shrubs, roses and herbaceous perennials, can be planted now, before bareroot season begins.

I also plant out any biennials, such as sweet Williams and verbascums, though if small I’ll postpone planting until early spring.

Now is also a good time to add bulbs to borders and meadows. I like to set them out in small, empty pots or old bulb nets, easily arranging them to my desired design before spreading and planting individually as loose swathes. This also helps to avoid any camouflaged individuals going unplanted.

Lifting and dividing can take place now, though of course this will involve cutting back your plants first, so I tend to leave this until spring, enjoying the winter seedheads.

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Early October is when I sow most hardy annuals, along with my first sowing of early sweet peas and additional winter salad leaves including chervil, pak choi, pea shoots and rocket. I also dig up some coriander, parsley and mint, so that I can grow them in pots indoors.

Authors

Head Gardener of a private garden in West Sussex, Benjamin lectures, writes and judges for the RHS plant trials, whilst creating a market garden in the South Downs.

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