Autumn is the Best Time to Plant Shrubs

planting shrubsFor many gardeners, autumn is the best season. The palette is changing from the bright green and yellow hues of summer into fiery shades of red, gold, and brown. The mornings are colder, but the sunshine still makes a regular appearance. Your garden is well on the way to recovery after the blistering heat of summer, so now is an excellent time to pull some gloves on and get out there!

Autumn is the best time of the year to plant shrubs. The soil is still warm and now that the heatwave has passed, it will be nice and moist too. This provides ideal growing conditions for new plants and trees to get their roots into the ground before the freezing temperatures come along. It gives shrubs a golden window to get established before the next flowing season arrives.

Digging the ground in summer is hard work – beds are often harder than concrete. It can be just as difficult in spring when the soil is heavy and clogged with water after a wet winter. Autumn soil is softer, looser, and a lot easier to dig. You do still need to do some preparation, however.

Preparing the Ground

Dig in some well-rotted mulch or empty the compost from your tubs and baskets into the beds. Water your shrubs while they are still in their pots and then dig a deep, wide hole in the ground that’s plenty large enough to accommodate a root ball. Pop the shrub in the ground and add a slow release fertiliser (ask us for advice if you are not sure what to use). Backfill soil into the hole and press it firmly into place around the shrub.

Flowering Shrubs 

Look for shrubs that are bursting with colour in the spring.  Here are a few great choices for your garden.


Camellias are beautiful winter and spring flowering plants. They need acidic soil, but you can use acidic compost to create the right growing conditions. They make particularly good container plants. Where possible, use rainwater to keep your plants moist, as hard tap water tips the soil pH balance in favour of alkalinity.


Azaleas fall in the same genus as Rhododendrons. They don’t mind the shade, so they are great for shady spots in the garden, especially under trees. Plant your azaleas now and you can look forward to an abundance of colour in spring.


Rhododendrons are the national flower of Nepal. This woody shrub likes light shade and acidic soil. Plant rhododendrons now for spectacular flowers in the spring.

Other shrubs worth considering include Skimmia, Dogwood, Berberis thunbergii, and if you want to plant a tree, go for a Japanese Maple.

Need advice? Don’t hesitate to ask one of the Carpenter’s Nursery team!