October at The Reigate Garden Centre Plant Department

Plant of the Month

Conifers
Key Plant Benefits
Hardy with a long life expectancy, 
Simple to maintain, they need very little staking’ pruning, deadheading or leaf raking.
Available in a variety of sizes, colours and shapes. 
Great for the British climate.
Being evergreen they create a stunning effect all year round.
Interesting facts
Conifers are a very important group of plants to our planet. They provide the largest terrestrial sink (where carbon is bound up as organic compounds) from the immense areas covered by coniferous woodlands.With the exception of 5 types conifers are evergreen plants.
With the exception of Gingko Biloba conifers bear needles instead of leaves.All conifers are cone-bearing plants which means they produce naked seeds i.e. not encased like for example an apple.
Gardening Tips
On the whole conifers are not generally fussy with regard to soil conditions, indeed many will grow on thin low-nutrient soils although some will fare better than others will.Conifers establish well when planted with some good organic matter. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball, mix the organic matter with the soil and replace around the roots.Keep well watered as conifers don’t wilt they simply go brown when the foliage has died and by then it’s too late.Many gardeners will have lost some of their architectural structure plants in the garden such as Chromium, Palms & Cordyline as they are not native to the British climate can thus can suffer in our winters. Now is a great time to plant a conifer as the plant of choice for this purpose.

In Your Garden

Colours
Autumn colors are slowly starting to dominate, and the garden is preparing for the winter. Now is nature’s best time for planting – so perfect for putting in new plants or trees.  Do you have you a suitable spot for winter-flowering plants that you can see clearly from the house? Then how about something like a witch hazel or a flowering cherry. And if you have a balcony instead of a garden, winter jasmine is ideal. Place the bush in a spacious pot or tub and give it some support - it will do the rest.
Colourful boost
Don’t let your garden be dull in October!  There are some gorgeous plants and shrubs in the most fantastic colours available.
How about flowering naked ladies, Sedum and autumn chrysanthemums?
Some plants stand out because of their foliage; others have magnificent flowers or colourful ornamental fruit.
All kinds of holly, crab-apple, snowberry and spindle tree varieties can give your garden a colourful boost in the autumn.
Taking root
Plant your trees, shrubs and perennials now - that will give them ample opportunity to take root before winter sets in. This will give them a growth advantage over their peers that are not planted until the spring.
You can also plant bulbs now. What about establishing an autumn tradition and getting the whole family into the garden for a bulb planting day?  Set them to work with a basket of bulbs and a trowel - then all you have to do is look forward to next spring.

Pruning

Prune bleeding trees
A number of trees can bleed heavily if pruned in the spring because the sap flows are particularly strong then. It is therefore better to prune varieties such as birches, maples and walnut now if necessary.

Planting

The ideal month
October is the ideal month for planting. Growers have done a lot to extend the planting season, partly by cultivating in pots and containers; nevertheless autumn is nature’s preferred planting time.  By planting in October shrubs, trees and perennials can become firmly rooted before winter, which gives them an advantage in the spring compared to plants which are only planted then.
Replant shrubs
Because shrubs emerge from the soil with a number of branches, it is easier to replant and above all move them if you tie the branches together. For plants with spiky branches it is best to wrap a thick cloth around the branches first.
Climbing and rambling shrubs cannot be replanted without pruning them back substantially. There is a substantial risk that they will not sprout again from somewhat older growth. It is therefore difficult to replant old climbers.
Plant heather
October is an excellent month for planting heather. Plant it two centimetres deeper than the plants are supplied in their pots. This prevents them from being tugged by strong winds, which can interfere with the roots becoming established. Planting deeper also prevents the sun from shining on the roots.
Plant bulbs 
Do not forget to plant spring-flowering bulbs.

Maintenance

Entrench fuchsias and geraniums
A lot of people do not have the space in their house, shed or garage to overwinter their collection of fuchsias and geraniums (Pelargonium). You can also bury them in the garden (cover with soil) or leave them to overwinter in a large box with pot soil.
Fallen leaves
Fallen leaves are not only good for the compost heap or for producing leaf mould; they can also be used to cover sensitive large perennials like Gunnera. Leave the Gunnera foliage in place, but create a fifty centimetre high netting fence around the base of the plant and fill the space within it with fallen leaves.
Dig up bulb and tuber crops
Gladioli, Ixias, dahlias, tuberous begonias etc. cannot cope with frost and ideally need to be dug up now if you want to keep them.
The signal for this is usually the blackening of the foliage on the dahlias due to low temperatures.
Do not dig them up too soon, since the growth of bulbs and tubers particularly occurs during this late period.
Cut stems two centimetres above the bulb or tuber and leave the stumps to dry out in a dry, well-ventilated spot.
After a while they will let go easily and the soil around the bulb or tuber will also have dried out enough for most of it to fall off.
There is no need to clean them further. Store the bulbs or tubers in a cool place which is usually damp.
Make compost
October traditionally sees a lot of organic waste coming from the garden. Instead of removing it, why not make compost from it?
Make manure weed-free
Often if you fertilise your (vegetable) garden with old farmyard manure, you get a lot of weeds.  So the best thing to do is to compost the manure first. Alternate layers of manure with other compostable material. The high temperature which develops during composting (up to 60 °C) eradicates the weed seeds ability to germinate. The end product is highly a nutritious compost.