Autumn has arrived in all its glory - longer nights, cooler days and gorgeous auburn colours of changing leaves.
Even though the garden is preparing for its winter rest, there is no resting for the gardener! Autumn is a time to prepare your garden for the coming winter and to get it ready for a magnificent display in spring. If you miss the autumn sowing and planting gap now, your spring garden will be rather dull, so grab your gloves and shovel and let’s get planting.
By sowing in autumn plants have the opportunity to germinate now, form a small plant and grow a few inches before entering winter dormancy. Even though growth above ground slows down or stops, root-growth will still continue.
Soil preparation tips
Preparation is key. Here are a few tips on preparing your soil for sowing and planting:
- Give seeds and bulbs the best start by digging fresh compost into the soil. Check out this article on making your own compost.
- Ensure your soil has plenty of nutrients and continuously replenish these nutrients as the plants grow. Use seedling food when planting and mix in some bone meal or superphosphate.
- Add a good layer of mulch to conserve soil moisture and to keep seedling roots warm during the winter.
To learn more about soil and different types of soil, check out the articles below:
Annuals to sow now
The winter and spring annuals in the list below can be planted now. Feed regularly every two to three weeks with 3:1:6 water-soluble fertilizer for flowering plants. Sowings can also be done successionally to ensure flowering all season long.
For shady spots: Aquilegia, Canterbury bells, Nicotiana, Cineraria, Primulas and Foxgloves.
For sunny spots: Alyssum, Delphiniums, Dianthus, Iceland poppies, Statice, Nemesias, Gazanias, Godetia, Viola, Calendulas, Stocks, Snapdragons, Petunias, California poppies, Scabiosa atropurpurea, Bellis perennis, and Sweet peas.
We’ve put together a sweet pea series to help you grow these spring favourites. Tap the article below to dig into the first of five articles.
*Tip: Queens lace (Ammi majus) is a delicate, long-lasting cut flower. Scatter seeds in beds for a beautiful display in the garden and as cut flowers in the home.
There is nothing quite like the luminous Bokbaaivygies and multicoloured African daisies to welcome springtime. Sow these annuals in a sunny, well-draining position.
If you have a new plot or would like to rest a bare patch of soil during winter, consider sowing a cover crop. Cover crops help to improve the soil and suppress weeds.
Here are a few cover crops to consider: Wheat, Oats, Barley, Fava beans, Buckwheat and Linseed.
Spring-flowering bulbs to plant now
Growing bulbs are one of the most rewarding processes and every gardener, beginner or experienced, should give it a go this season. Bulbs can be planted directly or in containers, some species will even flower with just their roots set in water. Bulbs require well-composted soil and loads of nutrition.
Planting bulbs for the first time? Find all you need to know about planting winter and spring-flowering bulbs in the article below.
Get these easy-to-grow bulbs into the ground now for showy flowers come spring:
Indigenous bulbs: Babiana, Freesia, Sparaxis, Cyrtanthus, Tulbaghia, Ixias, Chasmanthe, Tritonias, Lachenalia, Daubenya and Ornithogalum.
Exotic bulbs: Hyacinth, Daffodils, Tulips, Ranunculus, Muscari, Dutch Irises and Narcissus.
*Tip: Ranunculus and anemone bulbs can be planted at two-week intervals to ensure a long flowering display.
Shrubs and trees
Autumn is also an ideal time to plant new roses or transplant roses to a better spot. Furthermore, shrubs and trees can also be planted now allow for their roots to establish before pushing out new leaves come spring.