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What Should I Plant in Autumn?

Last Updated Mar 23, 2012 · Written by


All too often, we only start thinking about planting as spring approaches. While autumn planting does not give the immediate gratification that planting in spring does, it is an ideal time for planting many vegetables, trees and flowering plants. Autumn is the season when plants best establish their root systems, so when spring arrives, they are healthy, well established and ready to create a display of colour or offer fresh food for your table.

Vegetables to Plant in Autumn

Early autumn is a great time for planting a number of seedlings that require a deep root system. Cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, silver beet and other brassica seedlings do especially well. Mix some dolomite and compost into the soil to give them nutrients for establishing themselves.

Root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, garlic. leeks and onions do well if planted in autumn. If you have some fresh garlic in your pantry, just separate the cloves, plant them separately about 50mm deep and look for a fresh stock of garlic in the spring.

Most kinds of lettuce do well in autumn in Australia, but to be on the safe side, plant winter varieties from seedlings. Some of these include butterhead, oakleaf, cos and salad bowl. If you live in a frost free area, autumn is a good time for planting sugar snap peas, too. Their blossoms are sensitive to frost, though, so be careful when planting these.

Fruits to Plant in Autumn

Autumn is not the best time for planting many fruit bearing bushes and trees, but it the ideal time for some. If you like the idea of having fresh lemons, for example, plant a lemon tree in autumn for best results later on. Early autumn is ideal for getting passionfruit started and is one of the reasons why some home gardeners have such success with this delicious and versatile fruit while others seem to get nothing for their efforts.

Bulb Planting in Autumn

Winter is the time of year when plants seem to go dormant. While not much activity is going on above ground, though, it is the time of year they focus on establishing their roots. This makes autumn the ideal time for planting flowering bulbs. Part of the beauty of planting bulbs is that they are almost guaranteed to blossom at least once as long as they get plenty of sun and regular watering.

Some bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths can be planted in pots and left outdoors until they start to flower. Then you can move them to your windowsill or other sunny indoor spot and enjoy their splendour during the flowering season. Others, like bluebells and snowdrops prefer to live outdoors under trees and will be the first to flower in late winter or early spring.

After bulbs flower, their foliage will yellow and they will appear to be dying. Although they aren't much to look at when this happens, if you allow nature to run its course and don't cut them back, they will return the following season and adorn your garden again. Since they disappear above ground, it is a good idea to mark their location so you don't accidentally disturb them during their dormant phase.

Autumn is also a good time for transplanting bushes and trees. If you're establishing a garden, go to your local nursery in March and choose the varieties you want. Ask the nursery attendant how best to plant them or get a professional gardener to help you. If you're starting from scratch, a garden designer can help you arrange everything "just so." After that, just sit back and watch your garden grow.

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