Now there’s a question. You might be surprised to learn that the best time to plant in the UK is when it starts to cool down after summer. Yes, really! Despite the summer growth you often see, when plants show off their colours and grow again this is not the best time to plant afresh. Autumn is the season when most experienced gardeners will plant anything, and you should do the same.
Why is Autumn the Best Time of Year to Plant?
Autumn is the perfect time of year to plant, as the soil is still warm from the summer sun and moist from the autumn rains. The air temperature outside is cooler which means there’s no searing heat to scorch the plants either. The cooler temperatures mean the plant isn’t throwing all its energy into growth, but rather is moving to a dormant state to survive for next year. These factors contribute together to make optimum growing conditions, which in turn encourages good root growth to establish properly and thrive the following year.
The process of planting is easier for you too. It is generally easier to dig the ground at this time of year. Digging solid, dry soil isn’t fun. We usually have very mild autumns in the UK so digging at this time should be easy enough. Take it from us, trees and shrubs planted in the autumn have the very best chance of fully establishing and they require minimum maintenance.
What is our Favourite Month of the Year for Planting Trees & Shrubs?
OK, since you strongarmed us, it’s September. We think it generally has a nice balance of the most important factors to help trees and shrubs establish well. Sometimes it can still be quite warm and summery at the start of September, so just keep an eye on the weather conditions.
Why isn’t Summer the Best Time of Year to Plant?
Planting during the hotter summer months makes plants stress out, because the soil is quite dry, and the temperature too warm, so roots cannot spread easily outward and absorb enough water fast enough. Additionally, you’ve got the overarching factor that the plants naturally want to grow as much as they can during summer, so they are using a lot of energy to do this, while trying to grow roots and take on nutrients from the soil.
All of that together means they can become stressed quite easily. It can just be too much at one time for a lot of plants leading to them dying a short while later. While there are ways to do it, it is quite challenging to plant in the summer months and comes with a very high risk of failure.
But What About Spring?
Spring can be OK to plant trees and shrubs. The earlier in spring the better. Planting in late spring is very risky. Whatever is planted will come out of dormancy sooner because summer is just around the corner. It’s certainly better than planting in the summer, but not the optimum to give your trees and shrubs the best start to life in your garden.
Ideas for Planting in Autumn
There’s so much you can do in the autumn. There’s still time to add plants to give instant colour and interest to your garden. Or why not grow your own winter vegetables, or plant a fruit tree, or get ahead and add spring flowering bulbs for beautiful blooms next year. Just because summer has passed does not mean your chance to plant and grow has gone. So, get planting and you’ll soon see stunning autumn and spring colours in your garden! “But plant what?!” we hear you ask. Keep reading for some ideas.
Plants for Instant Impact
Brighten your garden by adding plants like asters and chrysanthemums, and put life back into your beds and containers, with dainty violas, cyclamen, and pansies. Or for minimal effort and maximum impact you could buy a ready planted container, packed with plants to give you perfect autumn colour. The days are shortening in autumn, and are getting a bit duller, so go for bolder more vibrant colours to provide the maximum impact effect. You would be surprised to learn how many of the nation’s favourite and most popular flowers are hardy enough to last well into the start of winter.
Grow Your Own at Home
It’s so satisfying to grow your own fruit and veg and it’s very easy too. Now is the time to plant broad beans, cabbages, onions, garlic, peas, salad mixes and spinach. Autumn is also the best season to plant fruit trees such as apples, pears, and plums. Planted correctly, and with patience they will reward you for years and years with a glorious blossom in the spring followed by tasty fruit.
Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs
Autumn is great for planning ahead for next spring. Plant spring flowering bulbs now, and you’ll have beautiful blooms next year. Bulbs are very easy to plant, and there are so many beautiful varieties and colours available. Some of the most popular bulbs to try are tulips, daffodils, crocuses, alliums, and snowdrops. Just make sure you plant the bulbs deep enough (the packaging will indicate the planting depth). If not, the result will be adequate in the first year but may be disappointing thereafter. This is a particular issue with tulips which require a planting depth of about 15cm. Often, novice gardeners don’t plant them deep enough.
So Take our Advice and Plant in the Autumn
Autumn is the optimum time of year for planting. Plants are dormant, and weather and soil conditions are at their best to give your trees or shrubs the time they need to establish without stressing out. Your plants if there are many, or if you have purchased trees can be a significant investment, so ensure you set up for planting success right from the start.