My wife and I love gardening, and we try to stay on top of things all year round – which means planting in all seasons too. So what can you plant in October? Let’s find out.
In October you can plant most vegetable groups such as brassicas and greens, most root vegetables, alliums, and peas. You can also plant perennial flowers and wildflowers, plus most fruits, trees and shrubs. However, in October it’s too late to plant the humble potato.
Let’s discover more about what you can and can’t plant in October in more detail, and also give some tips for what types of jobs you can do in the garden at this time of year…
What Plants Can Be Planted Outside in October?
There are plenty of plants that can be planted outside in October. Most of us probably see the fall as a good time to tidy up our yards before winter; however, it’s also a really good time to get planting.
You can plant all sorts of vegetables in October: onions, spinach, kale, carrot, leek, lettuce… We could go on. It’s also a good time to get your bulbs in the ground ready for the following spring. You can even still sow hardy annuals like cornflowers at this time of year.
Of course, this all depends on what zone you live in and what the climate is like during the fall.
If you live in the Midwest or Mid-Atlantic regions, you’ll still experience some heat at this time of year. You’ll have a lovely time planting your October crops, out in that late-season sunshine. It’s the perfect time to plant bulbs in these conditions.
In the Northeast, make the most of the last of the warmth and get out there as soon as you can. Along the Pacific Coast and the Pacific Northwest, you’ll have to factor in October’s rainfall when planning your planting. In California, you can plant so many things at this time of year (but if you live in the south, our tip is to chill your bulbs before you plant them).
And in the south? Well, it’s warm. There may be a few dry days, but unlike your fellow gardeners further north, you’ll have to make sure that any new plants don’t dry out.
Any seeds or young plants you buy should have zone information on their labels. Check the planting instructions for your climate before you set out, and check the USDA plant hardiness zones. We’ll talk in general terms about October planting.
What Can I Plant in Pots in October?
If you want containers full of beautiful bright flowers in the spring, you can plant the bulbs in pots in the fall. You can always pop some winter bedding plants over the soil so you’re not looking at empty pots for a few months.
You can also plant vegetables in planters in the fall. This is an especially good idea if you think you may need to get your veg undercover. Spinach, kale, garlic, and carrots all thrive in pots. If you want to plant asparagus, it’s a long old project. Get started now, by growing them in a patio pot over the fall and winter.
Is it Too Late To Plant in October?
It certainly isn’t too late to plant in October. As you’ve already read, it’s a great time to get your root and leafy vegetables into the ground, as well as preparing your bulbs for the spring.
The fall is actually the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. There’s an old gardener’s saying that when the leaves start to fall, it’s time to plant new trees. This gives them time to establish their roots before the ground freezes. If you live in a cooler zone, plant in early autumn before the first frosts.
Can You Plant Perennials in October?
Yes, you can plant perennials in October. They’ll actually love you for it, as the ground is warmer in the fall than in the spring, and the temperature is often more consistent, too. In the spring, they’ll reward you with masses of healthy flowers.
Can I Grow Potatoes in October?
Sorry – we’re finally having to say “no”. October is too late to plant your potatoes, in most zones anyway. The rule with potato planting is that they must be in the ground 12 weeks before the first frost.
This means that in most regions, August is about the limit for potato planting, and even earlier in zones that get frosts closer to the start of the fall. Get them planted in the late summer or early fall for a delicious Thanksgiving or Christmas crop.
What Fruit and Veg Can I Plant in October?
Here are the main foods that you can plant in your yard in October (unless you live in a more extreme climate).
- Brassicas and greens such as sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, chard
- Root vegetables. Try beets, carrots, turnips, swedes, parsnips
- Alliums like garlic, onions, chives, shallots, leeks
- Peas. You may be able to grow these from seed in a warmer zone
- Fruit. Because it’s a good time to grow trees and shrubs, this means most fruits
Can I sow Phacelia in October?
Yes, you can sow phacelia in the fall. In fact, these flowers can be grown from seed pretty much at any time, and are easy to grow. They can be sown in containers, but tend to do better straight into the ground.
It can take less than eight weeks from seed to flower, and afterward, it makes an excellent green manure. If you plant it this fall, it can stay in the ground until next fall, providing nutrients.
Can I Plant Spinach in October?
Spinach is one of the leafy plants that you can plant in October. However, we hope you’re not hungry, as you’re unlikely to see many leaves before February. If you want spinach to eat in the fall and winter, plant it in the summer, a couple of months before the frost.
Can You Plant Onions in October?
Generally speaking, it’s possible to plant onions in October, but it’s a bit of a risk. This is because onions don’t like waterlogged soil, so if you get heavy fall rain, best get them in the ground in September at the latest.
If you miss this, don’t panic. You can plant shallots in October, and they seem a bit less fussed about heavy, wet soil.
What Flower Seeds Should I Plant in October?
There are plenty of seeds that you can plant in October, ready for beautiful flowers the following year. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Poppies (Black Swan and American Legion)
- Black Eyed Susan
- Blue flax
- Rose campion
- Sweet William
- Virginia stocks
As ever, check what’s recommended for your region, and what needs to be planted indoors first.
Can You Plant Wildflowers in October?
The fall is the best time to plant wildflowers, as this is when they’d naturally start to grow. The old flowers die back, scattering their seeds on the October ground. So, if you’re planning a wildflower meadow, book it in October.
Top tips: till the soil before starting to plant, and keep the area clear of weeds. This is another advantage of fall planting: fewer weeds grow in the cooler weather.
Here’s a short film by Eden Brothers about planting wildflowers in the fall.
Conclusion: What Jobs Can I Do in The Garden in October?
Whatever region you live in, there are plenty of useful jobs you can do in the yard in October. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Tidy up the garden beds, and add the raked leaves to the compost. Don’t have a compost heap? Now there’s a good fall project…
- Harvest any fruit, veg, or herbs that won’t survive a frost. Get freezing, pickling, anf batch cooking!
- Any seeds you want to preserve? Harvest, dry, then pop them in a labelled, air-tight container
- How’s your lawn looking after the summer? It could be time to give it a treatment to keep it healthy
- If you’re expecting a frost, cover your delicate plants with fleece or move pots indoors
- Sweep and pressure wash the drive, patio, and deck
- Clean, dry and cover any patio furniture
- Get your grill and any other outdoor kitchen equipment ready for winter. If you’re planning on plenty of outdoor events in the winter, you’ll still need to cover things in between them, so make sure your covers are intact
- Clean out your gutters to make sure they’re free of debris ready for the rougher weather
- Anything in need of fixing? Don’t put off mending a broken window latch or fixing an outdoor light. You’ll thank yourself later when all the outdoor jobs are finished before the winter arrives
- Secure anything that could be blown about in fall or winter storms. This could range from pot plants to gazebos
- Make sure your log store is dry and sheltered, as you’re going to need it soon…
- Plant your veg, seeds, and bulbs, as we’ve mentioned above
Want to know what you can plant in November? Read the next article in our planting calendar…
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >