Many people think that once summer’s over, so is their garden. Once fall comes around, most people start thinking of pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween.
If you want to get more out of the growing season, you can easily plant in October for some quick harvests or to lay the groundwork for spring.
In fact, there are a ton of crops and flowers that actually love cooler weather and will thrive in those temperatures.
As long as you take care to protect your crops from any below-freezing temperatures, you can plant in October with no issues.
Of course, fall is also the perfect time for planting spring-blooming bulbs too.
However, it depends on your USDA hardiness zone. You can look at this map here to determine which zone you live in. Right now, we’re going to give you a general guide, not focus on one zone in particular.
What Should You Plant in October?
The best plants to grow in October include bulbs like daffodil, grape hyacinth, and Dutch iris. The best veggies include carrots and beets, Brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, and leafy greens like lettuce and arugula. For traditional flowers, choose pansies, mums, or blanket flowers.
Many gardeners feel sad as fall rolls around because it usually signifies the end of the growing season. Gardeners everywhere pick their last fruits and veggies from their gardens and start putting away their gardening tools because they think the season is done.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way—there are plenty of bulbs, veggies, and flowers you can easily plant in October and watch them flourish and thrive in the cooler weather.
If you live in a very cold region (generally, USDA zones 1a to 6b), you’ll have luck planting bulbs and maybe some veggies, but if you want to have a winter season, you may have to grow in a greenhouse to help mitigate some of the frost damage that cold weather brings.
If you’re in USDA zones 6b or 7a to 11, it’ll be easy for you to get another harvest even after the summer months have passed.
Another benefit to growing during October and the cooler months is that you won’t have to work as hard as you do in the summer. In addition, the cooler weather deters many annoying insects and diseases which thrive in warm weather.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best plants to grow in October, including bulbs, veggies, and flowers.
The Best Bulbs to Plant in October
While some bulbs are meant to be planted in the spring, like dahlias, calla lilies, and begonias, there are plenty of bulbs that you can successfully plant in the fall.
Then, when spring comes, you’ll be so happy that you spent the time to plant those bulbs when you see those beautiful, vibrant flowers after a long winter.
Daffodils are a spring staple that is best planted during the fall, in October. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even feel like spring without seeing daffodils peeking up through the ground.
Daffodils are so hardy; they will even send their smiling yellow flowers to push right up through the snow.
Daffodils can be grown in zones 4 to 11, so even if you live in a cooler climate, you can still grow these beautiful flowers. Plant in soil that’s well-draining but still rich and moist.
Grape hyacinth is another sign of spring, with its tiny flowers that look like a bunch of grapes.
You can easily plant these in October, and they only need to go a few inches deep. Just be sure to give them tons of water after planting because they can dry out quickly.
You can plant grape hyacinth bulbs in zones 3 to 11, and by the time early to mid-spring comes along, you’ll be enjoying beautiful purple-blue blooms everywhere. Plant them in spots with full sun to partial shade.
They also prefer loamy soil that’s well-draining.
Iris are another spring staple, and Dutch iris in particular have gorgeous, deep purple blooms, usually with a yellowish-orange throat. However, be careful to plant these tiny bulbs in well-draining soil.
If you plant them in soil that’s too wet, they can rot. Similar to the grape hyacinth, you should plant these only a few inches deep.
Dutch iris works best planted in zones 5 to 9, and look for a spot with full sun to partial shade.
You should also give them well-draining, slightly moist soil. You can add in special fertilizers designed for Iris if you want lots of big, beautifully colored blooms.
The Best Veggies to Plant in October
The season for growing veggies doesn’t just end in September. There are plenty of veggies you can grow in October, including leafy salad greens and some members of the Brassica family, like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale.
Or, you can try root veggies like carrots, beets, and parsnips.
A good rule of thumb for planting fall veggies is growing varieties with the shortest seed-to-harvest time.
You can easily plant members of the Brassica family of plants in October. This includes things like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale can all be cultivated from a transplant in October.
If you want to plant broccoli, put the seedlings about 12 to 18 inches apart. Try to give them a boost of fertilizer with something nitrogen-based and be prepared to cover the seedlings if there’s a risk of frost or cold temps.
You can also plant root veggies in October, like carrots, parsnips, and beets. For carrots, sow the seeds in the dirt about six to eight inches apart.
However, carrots can be difficult to seed correctly since the seeds themselves are so tiny, so try to put about five seeds for every inch of ground.
Beets can be planted about 2 or 3 months before the first frost and then harvested in time for Christmas and the holidays.
You need to sow these seeds far apart because beets don’t like being crowded. Plant them one inch deep and four inches apart. Use soil that’s been well-fertilized so you can enjoy your harvest quicker.
Leafy greens are a fall-planting staple, including things like lettuce, mustard greens, and arugula. Arugula is an excellent choice because it has a rapid harvest time, about 30 days.
You can gently prune arugula leaves when they reach about three inches in length and enjoy a tender arugula salad even when it’s chilly outside.
Romaine lettuce is another great leafy green you can plant in October. Try to plant romaine in a shady area because they love cool weather. You can use seeds or seedlings; just plant them about ¼ of an inch deep and one foot apart.
The Best Flowers to Plant in October
We already told you about the best bulbs to plant in October, which are technically flowers, but we’re going to tell you the best flowers to grow in the fall that doesn’t start from a bulb. Three popular and beautiful flowers you can choose are mums, pansies, and blanket flowers.
One of the most popular fall flowers is chrysanthemums, also known as mums. They can usually last until the first frost, so you’ll be able to enjoy their colorful blooms for a long time.
If you want to grow mums, use younger plants that aren’t fully in bloom yet instead of seeds. Then, you’ll be able to transplant them easily and watch them thrive, as long as you take care to keep the soil moist but not overly wet or soggy.
You can plant mums in October in USDA zones 5 to 9, and be sure to plant them where they’ll get full sun. Before you know it, you’ll have beautiful and vibrant mums that are the perfect picture of fall.
Pansies are one of the most cheerful signs of spring, with their soft, velvety petals and unique markings. The best part is, they’re versatile enough to be planted directly in the ground, in pots, or even in a window box. If you choose to use potting containers, use a rich and fertile potting soil.
If you live in zones 6 to 11, pansies are an excellent choice for fall planting that will reward you with their cheerful blooms. If you’re in zone 6a through 7a, plant these in late September, 7b is early October, and you can plant in late October for zones 8 through 11.
Blanket flower, also called Gaillardia, has absolutely gorgeous bright red blooms with yellow edging. It’s actually a perennial hybrid, and their flowers look similar to a daisy, with a width of about four inches.
One great benefit to growing blanket flower is that it’s perfect for cutting and making a fall bouquet with plenty of flash and panache. Of course, you can always prune the stems and leaves a bit to encourage more flowering.
Blanket flowers can be grown in zones 3 to 10, so they have a wide range, making them perfect for a fall garden. Plant them in soil that needs about a moderate level of moisture, not too wet or too dry. Ensure that the place they’re planted gets full sun and is well-draining, too.
If you’re not ready to put away your gardening tools by the time fall rolls around, you’re not alone. Luckily, you don’t have to.
With the right veggies, bulbs, and flowers, you can extend your growing season by a few months and then enjoy the fruits of your labors, usually up until the first frost.
For root veggies, try carrots or beets, or you can always choose the Brassica family, which is broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Leafy salad greens like romaine lettuce and arugula are also a great choice to plant in October.
If you want bulbs, try dahlia, grape hyacinth, or Dutch iris, all of which have a late payoff of gorgeous blooms in spring. You can try blanket flowers, mums, or pansies if you prefer flowers that don’t start from bulbs.
Remember, check your USDA hardiness zones to see which plants are best for your region. Then, you can enjoy the growing season well into the fall and start of winter, even.
All your friends and family will be jealous when you have gorgeous flowers and delicious veggies, even in December.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.