Do Not Wait Until Spring to Get Your Garden Growing

Monday 3 September 2012

RHS launches autumn planting campaign

Two generations have forgotten that autumn planting gets gardens in shape for the following year, saves money and helps many plants better establish, according to a survey commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Forty years ago gardeners knew that autumn was a prime time for planting, but today just 12% of people think it is the best time to get plants in the ground, and only 6% of people purchase their plants during the season*.

The RHS is launching a campaign ‘Autumn Planting for Year Round Colour’, to promote planting in autumn when the soil is still warm. This gives plants the head start they need to get established in time for spring when growth is at its peak. Once established, their root systems can cope with summer’s dry, warm conditions and plants are less likely to fail.

It is also the ideal time to plant for gardeners to save money. Bare-root plants are available for planting in October and often cost much less than those sold in containers. Any smaller, less-expensive plants that are put into the soil in autumn will establish quickly and perform as bigger and better plants next year.

RHS Director General Sue Biggs says, “While spring is also a great time for gardening, it has totally eclipsed autumn and we’ve forgotten that this is a prime gardening season as well.

“Many plants are in flower in spring and look especially wonderful after winter, so no wonder we’re enticed to purchase – I think it’s also a reflection of today’s culture wanting immediate results. But smart gardeners can save money and have more success if they get certain trees, shrubs, climbers and herbaceous plants, like peonies, planted now and roses, soft fruit and fruit trees planted in November.

“When gardeners are choosing bulbs in September, hopefully this campaign will encourage them to stop by the tree and shrub areas as well. With the drought this spring and then a washout summer, more than ever we need to embrace autumn gardening to get our outside spaces looking beautiful next year.”

The survey of 1,000 people across the UK* also revealed that 80% were not aware that the focus on spring planting is fairly recent and that 40 years ago most gardeners put plants in the ground in autumn and winter.

‘Autumn Planting for Year Round Colour’ takes place during September, October and November. At the four RHS Gardens – Wisley, Rosemoor, Hyde Hall and Harlow Carr – there will be talks by gardeners and experts for ideas and advice, free autumn planting cards to take home and basic soil testing advice. There will also be a series of garden events including the Wisley Flower Show (5 – 9 September) and autumn-harvest events at all RHS Gardens over the weekend of 20 – 21 October. Gardeners can also pick up autumn planting advice and inspiration from specialist nurseries at the Malvern Autumn Show (29 – 30 September), and the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show (23 – 24 October).

On 2 October, RHS Garden Wisley is joining forces with the Horticultural Trades Association to plant hundreds of violas and pansies, demonstrating how to get colour in your garden now and benefit from an even better display next spring.

Nigel Eaton, Head of The Wisley Plant Centre, shares some his favourite plants to put into the ground this autumn:

Plants for colour this autumn
• Caryopteris × clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’ AGM
• Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ AGM
• Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii AGM
• Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ AGM

Plants for colour next spring
• Itea ilicifolia AGM
• Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’ AGM

Plants for colour next summer
• shrub rose GERTRUDE JEKYLL (‘Ausbord’) AGM
• Raspberry ‘Autumn Bliss’ AGM
• climbing rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ AGM
• Acanthus spinosus AGM

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) is the highest plant accolade the RHS can give and helps gardeners to make informed choices about plants. This award indicates that the plant is recommended by the RHS.

To find out more about autumn planting visit

For more information or images, please contact Laura Price on 020 7821 3688 or or contact the general press office on 020 7821 3043


Notes to editors

*Survey of 1,000 adults, aged 18 to 56+, across the United Kingdom in August 2012.
• 12% of people think autumn is the best season for planting
• 77% think spring is the best season for planting
• 8% think summer is the best season for planting
• 3% think winter is the best season for planting
• 6% of people buy their plants in autumn
• 55% of people buy their plants in spring
• 13% of people buy their plants in summer
• 2% of people buy their plants in winter
• 24% of people said they don’t buy plants
• 80% of people did not know that just 40 years ago most gardeners put plants in the ground in autumn/winter and only recently the focus has been on spring gardening

For more information about the plants mentioned, please visit the online RHS Plant Selector tool

RHS Gardens
• RHS Garden Wisley, Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB

• RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 1QB

• RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon EX38 8PH

• RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Rettendon, Chelmsford, Essex CM3 8ET

All four gardens are open every day of the year except for Christmas day. Entry prices vary between each garden.

Malvern Autumn Show (29 – 30 October), Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire WR13 6NW

RHS London Shades of Autumn Show (23 – 24 Oct), Lawrence Hall, Greycoat Street, London SW1P 2PE
Tickets: £5 or free for RHS Members

AGM (Award of Garden Merit) is reserved for those plants of excellent garden-worthiness. By choosing an AGM plant gardeners can be sure that it is excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions; available; of good constitution; essentially stable in colour and form; and reasonably resistant to pests and diseases.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s foremost gardening charity, helping and inspiring millions of people to garden. We do this at our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


Latest press releases

About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262