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Flower & plant growing guide for October

21st October 2021


October is a month of many changes, the weather is getting colder and wetter, the nights are drawing in and Halloween and the festive season is edging colder by the day. Although some may think that the weather isn’t appropriate for a spot of gardening, that isn’t the case and some plants and flowers thrive in damper and wetter conditions.

For those who may be new to gardening or are unfamiliar with autumn and winter planting, this guide takes a look at some of the flowers and plants that are perfect for this time of the year and will survive the colder and damper weather.

Michael Perry, face and blogger behind Mr Plant Geek rounded up some of the best plants and flowers to explore in October and the autumn months: “October is a great month for late-summer and autumn colour, you could enjoy gorgeous asters, chrysanthemums, Japanese anemones… But, don’t just think about flowers, think about foliage as well. Some plants give amazing foliage colour in the autumn months, and some years are better than others. I’m also a big fan of heathers, look out for a variety called garden girls, which stays in bud for months upon end, so looks good over an extended period!”

Flowers and plants to plant in October:

  • Bare roots
  • Tulip bulbs
  • Cow parsley
  • Phacelia

Bare roots


October is a wonderful month for trees, shrubs and other herbaceous perennials to start filling flower beds in gardens across the country. Bare roots are great for colder and wetter months because until it is planted into the ground it is in a ‘dormant state’ as Lee from Garden Ninja explained in the following comments:

“October is the perfect time to plant bare-root shrubs, trees and herbaceous perennials in the garden. Not many gardeners tend to know about bare roots and it’s a real shame! A bare root is a plant that’s sold in a dormant (sleepy) state with its roots bare and exposed. As the soil is still warm in autumn planting bare roots at this time of year means they can get established before all that growth next year. Meaning you don't need to water as much as a pot-grown plant in summer! It also means that bare roots don’t require plastic pots or heavy compost so are usually more cost-effective and eco-friendly too!”

There are many benefits of planting your chosen shrubs in a dormant state, one of them obviously being they are tougher and can withstand harsher weather conditions, but they also reduce the effort you have to put in in the spring months as the work is already done for you. Lee continued to explain that there are three types of bare roots that he would recommend people plant for a beautiful and vibrant spring flower:

“Three of my favourite bare roots for a smaller garden are: Malus ‘Evereste’ - a form of small crab-apple tree – great for pollinators and privacy with its small delicate leaves. Choosing a dwarf rootstock means this tree is suitable for even the smallest gardens! The next is Viburnum Opulus – The Guelder Rose – a native shrub to the UK. Great for wildlife, it has gorgeous spring flowers before summer berries and then turns a russet orange in the Autumn. It's also easy to keep in shape with some yearly pruning. A great shrub to add some bulk in your borders. Lastly, Peonies make great statement flowers in the garden and are a great bare root. Try Paeonia Lactiflora which can grow to 1m tall at the back of a border for fuss-free bountiful blooms!”

If you’re a lover of roses, then roses are great to plant in bare-root form and can lie dormant until the spring when they flourish into stunning and vibrant colours, something that Alexandra from the Middle Sized Garden loves, she explains more:

“October is probably the best time of year for planting most trees, shrubs and many perennials. People think that spring is the time to plant – but if you can get your new plants in October, you’ll give them a head start next year. This is because they can begin to get their roots established before they go dormant and we generally now have wet autumns and dry springs. It’s an especially good time to plant bare-root roses, which are cheaper than pot-grown roses and use fewer resources so they’re also more sustainable.”

Tulip bulbs


Tulips are a popular and much-loved flower that is often seen in gardens in spring and are known for their hugely vibrant colours and vast range of hues. By planting the bulbs over the autumn months and throughout October, you can enjoy their beauty all year round and year after year. Nick, who writes for the gardening blog Two Thirsty Gardeners suggested tulip bulbs for the coming weeks:

“Towards the end of October, we’ll be filling the garden border and pots with tulip bulbs. While we usually go with classic bright red tulips, last year we experimented with a few other varieties and were particularly struck by ’Tulip Gorilla.’ It has a rich, intense purple colour and an attractive crinkly feathering to the edges of the petals.”

Cow parsley


Cow Parsley can often be found on the side of the roads, in hedgerows and in fields, making it a hardy and robust plant that can withstand high winds and rough weather conditions. Cow Parsley is a pretty flower topped with white tips and is often distinguished by a distinct smell and is great for attracting insects, birds and other wildlife.

The plant thrives in moist soil and should be planted in free-draining soil that gets a decent amount of sunlight throughout the day. The soil needs to be weed-free and lightly raked to allow the seeds to establish and spread. Cow Parsley should be planted in a bed as opposed to pots and is great for filling large gaps in garden beds and can easily be planted around other more precious flowers.



Another plant that offers pretty flowers, Phacelia is popular with bees and other small bugs, making it a great plant to prepare in the winter months, ready for it to bloom in the spring months when the bees need its pollen the most. Phacelia is a lovely light lavender colour and also makes wonderful manure when composted or when it dies.

Bare soil should be prepared and the seeds are directly sown into the ground for spring flowers. Although the plant is not native to the UK, it is tough and survives well in the mild but wet weather in the UK.

If you often use stairlifts or mobility aids to get around your home but want to get green-fingered before frost sets in, then hopefully some of these plants and flowers will make great additions to your beds and pots. For more articles like this, explore the Age Co Mobility news page.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.