Heucheras for autumn

An autumn pots planted with heucherella, lingonberry, nandina and cordyline

It is a Bank Holiday weekend and the sun is shining. So there is reason to celebrate and a garden centre visit is a welcome treat. The benches are full of tempting plants to make autumn more colourful and my favourites for patio pots are heucheras and heucherellas.

There is plenty of time to plant autumn pots, which will be colourful right through to spring. But if your summer pots are past their best it is always worth replanting them early so the new plants have plenty of time to get established and grow before winter. Plants won’t grow much so we tend to plant more densely for autumn. And lots of the plants are shrubs and will hardly grow at all till spring. Planting an autumn pot can be pricey but bear in mind that most of these plants will survive till spring and they can then be planted out in the garden and live for years.

Heucheras are not shrubs but they are evergreen perennials. They are colourful all year and what makes them exceptional is the huge range of colours. In fact, green leaves is unusual. You can choose from every shade, from red and orange, bronze and yellow, purple, grey and even pink.

The astonishing colour of new heuchera ‘Pinky Panky’

Heucheras grow well in sun or part shade and are hardy. In the garden they prefer a well-drained spot and although they will grow in clay if you dig in grit and compost, they will not cope well with waterlogged soil.

Most flower in late spring and summer with airy spikes of small flowers. They are not incredibly showy but bees love them.

Because of their neat habit and astonishing colours they are ideal for the front of borders but I rely on them for autumn pots. Then, in spring, when I pull the pots apart, the heucheras are planted into the garden. Heucheeras are great fun to have, playing around with colour combinations and being creative.

‘Binoche’ is a dark-leaved, vigorous heuchera with small pink flowers

Weekly reminders

This is ideal timing for sowing a new lawn, sowing over patches in a lawn and to apply a lawn feed.

As soon as they appear on the shelves you should get autumn-flowering bulbs planted, including autumn crocus and colchicums. You can also plant nerines but these are better if growing in pots because they don’t like their roots being dried out.

Cut the dead heads off dahlias to keep plants neat, prevent rot, in wet weather, and discourage earwigs.

Trim hedges, especially beech, hornbeam and conifers

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