Our favourite October plants
Discover plants that are looking glorious this month, chosen by the Gardeners' World team and our friends in the gardening world.
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If you want autumn colour in a small space, look no further. There are a host of gorgeous plants that look their best right now, and that are perfect for growing in even the tiniest of gardens – many will even thrive in pots. Here, we share the loveliest plants that are guaranteed to brighten up your garden this month. There's something to suit every space, including show-stopping blooms and unusual delights. Our choices include recommendations from the Gardeners' World team and across the gardening industry.
Find more October inspiration:
- Plants for beautiful October pots
- Carol Klein's favourite plants for autumn colour
- Eight plants to sow in autumn
Chosen by Frances Tophill, Gardeners' World presenter
I love a rose, usually for its scent, but the glauca, is probably the most attractive rose, with a delicate, weeping habit, blue foliage and soft, pink, single flowers. The scent is mild, but the hips are edible and useful in syrup for their immune-boosting powers.
Chosen by Nick Bailey, Gardeners' World presenter
Broad of blade and vase-like in form this dense grass carries attractive blue-green leaves through summer. Reaching some 1.8m it makes for a brilliant seasonal hedge, transitioning in autumn to striking yellow and orange tones, which hold well till Christmas.
Chosen by Arit Anderson, Gardeners' World presenter
I love dahlias. I used a variety called 'Hawaiian Sunrise' in my 2021 Chelsea Show Garden, it was the end of September and the lower sunlight levels brought out the delicate warm apricot tones of this single dahlia variety. Keep deadheading until the frosts to ensure late nectar for pollinators.
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Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea
Chosen by Errol Reuben Fernandes, The Great Garden Revolution presenter
Known as tall moor-grass, this is my favourite of all the grasses. With quite a small footprint, you can always find space for it. It arches over other plants creating a transparent veil that animates the display. In later October, the foliage turns the most glorious buttery yellow tones before collapsing. No cutting back required, it can be left as a mulch or simply gathered and taken to the compost.
Dahlia 'Penhill Watermelon'
Chosen by Hazel Gardiner, floral designer
Living in London, without harsh frosts, means dahlias have multiplied in my garden over the years. As a designer, colour is key and these spectacular dusky pink and apricot beauties are a delight. A florist cut-and-repeat favourite, they continually bring smiles inside and outside my home.
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
Chosen by Louise Curley, author of The Cut Flower Patch
Known as the Judas tree, I eagerly anticipate the moment this tree’s reddish-purple, heart-shaped leaves start to take on dramatic shades of ruby, amber and gold as the days shorten. I planted it so that it’s backlit by the setting sun for a truly spectacular display.
Symphyotrichum ericoides 'Pink Cloud'
Chosen by Cel Robertson, founder of Forever Green Flower Company
A mildew-resistant aster that is a star of the October border. It can get quite big, so give it the Chelsea Chop treatment in May. It makes a great cut flower for the vase too!
Salvia 'Hot Lips'
Chosen by Catherine Mansley, GardenersWorld.com deputy editor
Salvias are great-value plants, flowering for months with virtually no input required from the gardener. And Salvia 'Hot Lips' has to be one of the most cheery. One of my neighbours grows it as a low hedge in their front garden, and you can't help but smile as you walk past. If it's too garish for your tastes, try its cousin, 'Amethyst Lips'.
Chosen by Lily Middleton, GardenersWorld.com content producer
There's a touch of melancholy in the air as we approach the darker, colder months and much of the garden fades, that's why I love Nerine bowdenii for a late burst of colour. The bright pink, lily-like flowers are a welcome addition to the autumn garden.
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry'
Chosen by Oliver Parsons, Gardeners' World Magazine sub editor
I fell in love with this one as a trainee with the RHS – enormous bottle-brush flowerheads, emerging as an explosion from what can be (if the plant is really well established) a massive clump of elegant grassy foliage. It needs cutting back to a neat mound in late winter or early spring – one for the hedge trimmer!
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