Autumn/Winter Planting Guide – October to March
When autumn and winter roll around, and the weather is gloomy, it’s not easy to feel enthusiastic about the garden. However, spending time outdoors and pottering around your garden can be a great way to tackle the winter blues. Plus, there’s plenty to be getting on with! From tidying leaves and looking after wildlife to last-minute planting, there are various ways to stay busy in the garden through autumn and winter.
Tips for autumn and winter planting
As the temperature dips and weather conditions become more unpredictable, planting needs more consideration than in spring and summer. But fear not! With a few handy tips, autumn and winter planting can be a breeze.
- Timing is key. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan to plant when the conditions are mild and the soil isn’t too hard or wet.
- Prepare your soil. Cold weather means hard, compacted soil. To prepare it for planting, use a fork break and aerate the soil.
- Help roots develop. Help your plants along by teasing the roots out to encourage them to grow outwards quicker. Simply use your hand or a hand fork to tease balled-up roots gently.
- Support trees. If your fruit trees are stable, there’s no need to add a stake. However, if high winds are causing your trees to loosen in the planting hole, insert a low stake at a 45° angle and attach the tree to keep it stable.
- Mulch around plants. If you’ve planted trees or shrubs, apply a generous mulch like manure or homemade compost to seal in moisture and add nutrients.
- Harvest the last of the summer crop. Ensure you pick the last of your summer crop before the coldest weather arrives!
- Clear leaves. It’s a good idea to clear fallen leaves from lawns and flower borders. You can use the leaves to make mulch for next year. Do this by piling the leaves into a strong bag, tying it at the top and puncturing holes near the base for the air to circulate.
- Take care of wildlife. Treat your garden visitors through the cold months by ensuring bird feeders are regularly filled and water baths are de-iced. You could even use fallen sticks and twigs to create a small shelter for bugs and wildlife.
What to plant in autumn and winter
Winter salad, like iceberg lettuce, can be sown and grown in greenhouses.
Spring onion can be sown under cloches, ready to harvest in spring.
Plant autumn onion, shallots and garlic ready for an early harvest next summer. You could try out elephant garlic for large bulbs.
Spring cabbages and peas can be planted in the milder periods of the month. Avoid planting if it’s overly wet or frosty.
Plant cauliflower and keep it in a cold frame until the spring.
In January, you can begin chitting early potatoes. Use an old egg box to stand them on end in a cool spot with plenty of light.
Blueberries can be planted in October, provided you have acidic soil or can grow them in ericaceous compost.
You can plant bare-root dwarf fruit trees throughout autumn and winter. Popular options include apples, pears, apricots, peaches and nectarines. They are a brilliant choice for small gardens, yards or balconies.
Rhubarb crowns can be planted in well-prepped soil.
Plant seeds like basil, dill, parsley and chives and grow on your windowsill throughout autumn and winter.
Bare-root: These plants have been grown in open ground and dug up. They are called bare-root because they have no soil around the roots.
Chitting: The process of forcing seed potatoes to sprout before planting.
Cloches: Low, portable protective structures for plants. Often made of glass or plastic, cloches act as miniature greenhouses. Some are designed to cover individual plants, while others come in tunnel form.
Cold frame: A box that lies flat on the ground with a glazed, sloping lid. They can be used all year round but are particularly handy for protecting crops in the cold months.
Ericaceous: Refers to compost with a low pH, between 4 and 5. It is slightly acidic and used for growing ericaceous plants such as raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, juniper, rhododendron, heather, and more.
Mulch: Loose coverings of materials placed on the soil’s surface to retain moisture, suppress weeds, provide nutrients and many more benefits. Examples of mulches include garden compost, wood chippings, leaf mould and even seaweed!
Stake: A rod used to support a plant or tree as it grows. Stakes are also handy for marking and separating rows of plants. They are generally made from hardwood, bamboo or plastic.
Get growing with Garden Street
At Garden Street, you’ll find everything you need to maximise your outdoor space. Whether you have a big garden or a small balcony, you will find a wide range of sheds, mini greenhouses, planters and much more to help you grow.
Discover our growing guides
Our summer planting guide ran through harvesting spring crops, tips for harvesting and what to plant through the summer months. When winter ends, remember to refer to our spring planting guide for a comprehensive list of what to plant and a handy introduction to key tools and equipment for beginners.