Make the most of gardening in autumn, experts urge green fingered householders

Experts are encouraging people to get gardening in autumn, as polling shows two thirds do not think it is an important season for planting.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is trying to encourage people, including new gardeners who have taken up the hobby in lockdown, to plant now to save water and money.

A YouGov survey of more than 2,100 adults for the RHS found just 8% thought autumn was the most important gardening season, compared to 68% who thought spring was the most crucial.

Asked if they thought autumn was an important season for gardening, two thirds (65%) disagreed or said they did not know.

Autumn is a good time to get new plants into the ground (RHS/Tim Sandall/PA)
Autumn is a good time to get new plants into the ground (RHS/Tim Sandall/PA)

Three fifths (61%) did not know that tulip and daffodil bulbs should be planted in the autumn, the poll suggests.

While spring is a key season for gardening, the RHS said autumn is arguably the most important, providing good conditions for getting new plants into the ground.

The soil is moist and warm – and not yet as soggy as it will be in the winter – making it easy to plant and gives plants more time to grow new roots and be less vulnerable to dry summer periods, the RHS said.

It is a particularly good season for planting evergreens and trees.

Putting plants in autumn means people need to water less, and planting bulbs can be an inexpensive way of creating a display next year.

The RHS also has other tips for autumn gardening jobs, including composting fallen leaves, instead of putting them in the green waste, to improve the soil, and lifting and dividing perennials which is easier to do than in spring.

Buying garden goods in autumn can make sense for the wallet with end of season discounts, while the horticultural charity is urging gardeners to buy goods now to avoid potential price rises in the face of Brexit and Covid-19.

The RHS is launching a “grow at home this autumn” campaign, kicking off with a bulb themed week, with ideas and ways to grow favourite bulbs such as in containers and to add spring colour to borders.

Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “Helping people to garden is core to the RHS’s being, especially for the environment and their health, happiness and wellbeing.

“With the recent growth in gardening, many don’t know that autumn is arguably the most important gardening season, which is something we’re committed to changing by promoting and sharing the benefits of gardening now.

“Water is a critical issue and planting evergreens, trees and many perennials over autumn usually means that we can water a lot less, with cooler climates and higher levels of rain.

“We are seeing more dry and hot spring and summer months, when people can use a lot of water to keep newly planted plants alive.”

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