What to Do in the Garden This Week - October 23rd

Published on October 23rd 2020
A close up of rose flowers
Winter's on its way, so this week I have tips on wrapping up tender plants. Autumn is also the best time to plant hardy plants. No. 1 on that list has to be roses, so I have some tips on that too.
When it comes to sowing, who could deny that sweet peas are the best cut flowers to grow? If you want long-stemmed, multi-headed and deliciously scented sweet peas, now's the time to sow them.

Winter is coming!

  • Wrap the stems of Torbay Palms [Cordyline], bananas and tender palms with fleece. Use their leaves to give added insulation to the growing tip inside. If you can get it, dead bracken or straw is perfect.
Winter protection of banana plants
Protecting stems of banana with dead bracken
  • Plant any tree, shrub, climber, perennial, conifer, rockery plant and heather just as long as it is hardy. October is the very best month for planting!
Two people planting a plant
Planting a hardy plant in autumn
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Seeds and Sowing

  • Sow sweet peas now for the very best blooms next year. Sow into deep pots or Rootrainers and put in a cool, frost-free place to grow. Plant these out in early March.
Sowing sweet pea seeds in rootrainers
Sowing sweet pea seeds in Rootrainers
  • Collect and sow seeds. Remember that plants with variety names will not produce the same thing from seed, although those that have species names might! Thoroughly dry seeds that you plan to sow in spring.
Sowing seeds in a seed tray
Sowing seeds in a seed tray


  • Reduce the height of bush roses by trimming them back by a third to a half of their height. Cutting back will reduce the likelihood of the roots being damaged if the tops rock around in the wind.
A man pruning a rose bush
Reduce the height of tall rose bushes to prevent wind rock
  • Clear up and burn any diseased rose leaves. Cover the soil with a mulching material as this will also help to control against disease.
  • Plant new roses. If you are replanting where roses were before, put some of the new ‘Rootgrow’ in the bottom of the planting hole. Roses are notorious for performing poorly if planted into soil that has had roses in recently. ‘Rootgrow’ will help the newly planted roses overcome any difficulty they may have had in getting going as it contains beneficial mycorrhizae fungi, which roses seem to need. n.b. this is true of fruit trees too.
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Hybrid Tea rose flowers
October is great for planting roses


  • Reduce the height of butterfly bush [Buddleja] and tree mallow [Lavatera] but leave the main chop-back to late spring.
  • With milder winters becoming more common, there is no need to chop everything back hard and 'put the garden to bed'. If you leave plants un-cut, you might be surprised what is yet to bloom and what delightful winter effects you'll see!
Miscanthus grass at Burford House
Miscanthus grass at Burford House
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