This month’s plant selection will help you get the most from the autumn colour that’s all around. By adding some additional splashes of orange into your planting borders, it will enhance the effects of the autumnal leaf colours of the trees. Most of the pink flowers will have finished so won’t clash with some vibrant orange.


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Most of my October plant selections do have longer flowering/berrying periods than just October, so may not last the entire month, depending on where you live.

Pyracantha Orange Charmer

Pyracanthas are often a very underrated plant, which is a shame as they have so much to offer. They are evergreen, covered with clusters of white flowers in the spring, followed by berries through early winter. They will also grow in a wide range of soils and can take a reasonable amount of shade. They do have some quite nasty spines and are often used to burglar proof boundaries. However, combined with the right plants, they can look stunning at the back of a border.

Zauschneria Olbrich Silver

Sometimes known as the Californian Fuchsia. This is a great herbaceous perennial for well-drained soils. It has lovely soft silver foliage that turns almost white looking in really dry soils. It flowers for several months and should see you through to November. It doesn’t grow that large, usually between 1-2ft tall. It needs to be in full-sun. Whilst it can take quite tough growing conditions it’s not that hardy, so protect from frost.

If you’re not able to get hold of Zauschneria or need something a little hardier then Fuchsia Thalia is a good alternative as it has similar flowers.

Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’

This is a really long lasting flowering herbaceous perennial, though you do have to cheat a little to get it to flower well in October by cutting back the dead flowers of summer. It starts to flower in June. It grows well in most soils and will reach about 3ft tall. It’s pretty hardy and prefers to grow in full-sun.

Nandina domestica

Sometimes known as the Sacred bamboo. Nandina has orangey/red berries in the autumn months, but that’s not why I’ve chosen it. I love the evergreen foliage colours, they look particularly good with orange flowers in the autumn. It’s also got an interesting structure, so it adds form to a border. The leaves tend to arch out from bare stems, a bit like a bamboo, hence it’s common name. White flowers in the spring, make this a pretty good doer for most soils in semi-shade to full sun.

Crocosmia Constance

Most Crocosmias tend to finish flowering a little earlier than this variety. It has long grass-like foliage which gives rise to long arching flower stems of vibrant orange. They like well-drained soils and preferably full sun, but will often grow fairly well in semi-shade. Crocosmias are bulbs and will die down in the winter.


BUT do be warned, plants alone will NOT give you a stunning garden – you have to get the design layout right first. If you don’t know how to do that then…

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Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

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