Plant seeds in autumn and watch savings grow

Recession-hit gardeners should do new planting in autumn to save money and ensure more successful displays next year, experts will advise today.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said autumn was a prime time for planting, as it gave plants a chance to establish roots, when soils were warm and wet, in plenty of time for spring and summer when they would be in full growth.

Once established, plants are better able to cope with dry, warm conditions in summer and are less likely to fail, ensuring gardeners get value for the money they have spent on them.

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Gardeners can also save money buying bare root plants at this time of year, as they often cost far less than those sold in containers. But the once-common tradition of autumn planting has been lost in recent decades, with just 12 per cent of people thinking it is the best time to put in new plants, according to a survey of 1,000 people conducted by the RHS.

Just 6 per cent of those quizzed bought plants in autumn, compared to almost seven out of ten (68 per cent) who bought their plants in spring or summer. More than three-quarters thought spring was the best time for new planting.

The RHS puts the shift down to changes in horticultural practices, with plants now grown in pots for sale throughout the year rather than the traditional method of growing them in the ground and lifting them for sale in autumn.

The RHS is urging gardeners to plan ahead with their planting, rather than simply “impulse” buying plants when they are flowering or looking vibrant in the spring.

Nigel Eaton, head of RHS’s Wisley plant centre, said that if plants were able to establish roots, they were more able to survive drought and needed less watering, which is better for the environment.