Planting in September is a good idea as it provides you with an earlier crop in spring, makes use of otherwise empty soil and saves you time on spring planting. Plenty of vegetables and flowers can be sown or planted in the UK in September, including hardy annuals like pot marigold and love-in-a-mist, which will bloom a couple of weeks earlier than those from a spring sowing. In the vegetable patch, crops like garlic and broad beans can be planted now, for earlier harvests the following spring and summer.
Vegetables to plant in September
Spinach can be sown now for pickings next spring. Sow direct in shallow drills in well-prepared soil, or in pots. Cover with fleece or a low cloche from October onwards.
There’s still time to sow salad crops to harvest in the coming weeks. Sow in a sheltered spot outdoors, or grow in pots. Try mustard leaf, winter salad mixes, and mizuna. Winter lettuces such as ‘Winter Density’ can be sown under glass.
Sowing broad beans in autumn means plants can establish over winter and crop earlier the following spring. Cover plants with fleece during hard frosts or snow. Try broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’, which does well from an autumn sowing.
Like broad beans, hardy peas can be sown in September to overwinter and produce an early crop. Choose winter-hardy varieties like ‘Douce Provence’ or ‘Meteor’.
Radishes mature in just a couple of weeks, so it’s worth sowing a late batch of seeds now. The warm soil and mild conditions will ensure they mature in time for autumn salads.
Turnips are another fast-growing crop that can be sown on bare soil in September – they do best in cool, moist conditions. Harvest as golf-ball sized, baby veg in around six weeks. Perfect for the Christmas table.
Planting onion sets in autumn means you will get an earlier crop the following year. Choose a variety that’s ideal for autumn sowing, such as ‘Troy’ or ‘Radar’.
Garlic can be planted from September. Plant cloves 2.5cm deep and 25cm apart, in well-prepared, fertile soil. Shoots should appear before autumn and overwinter, then put on fresh growth in spring.
Flowers to plant in September
English marigold (Calendula officinalis)
English marigold (Calendula) has deep orange petals, which are perfect for a hot border or for cutting. It’s easy to grow – from an autumn sowing it should flower from May. Sow direct into shallow drills or on the surface of moist peat-free compost, in pots.
- Buy Calendula officinalis from Crocus
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist) is a cottage garden favourite and makes a lovely cut flower. Its dried seedheads are attractive, too. Sow in modules for planting out later, or direct where it is to flower (either the soil or in pots). Flowers will appear from early spring from an autumn sowing.
Centaurea cyanus often forms part of pictorial and annual meadow schemes, and makes an excellent cut flower. The blue-flowered variety is the most commonly grown, but different cultivars may have red, pink, white and dark purple flowers. Sow in September for an early spring display.
- Buy Centaurea cyanus from Crocus
Queen Anne’s lace (Ammi majus)
Ammi majus is best sown in autumn, resulting in bigger, better flowers in early summer. It bears clouds of cow-parsley like white flowers and is perfect for cutting. Sow direct where it is to flower or in modules for planting out later.
- Buy Ammi majus at Crocus
Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum, pictured), field poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and ladybird poppy (Papaver commutatum) can all be sown in autumn for an early summer display. Sow direct on patches of bare soil or in modular seed trays to plant out in spring.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) brings swathes of bright orange-yellow to borders. Sow direct or in modular seed trays to plant out later.