Although colder weather may be with us now, or on its way, there’s no reason why we can’t make our gardens look warm and cheerful. So, start by choosing plants that flower at this time of year or display bright colour leaves, with these 10 top plants for October…

1. Hesperantha coccinea (crimson flag lily) ‘Major’

This clump-forming, mid-green leaved perennial will reward you with a host of large, crimson flowers in the early autumn. The flowers last up until the first frosts as long as you can give it a warm spot in full sun.

  • Flowers in summer and autumn
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows to 75cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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2. Cornus sanguinea (dogwood) ‘Winter Beauty’

Next is a hardy shrub that provides great autumn interest when its leaves turn fantastic shades of orange and red as the temperatures start to drop. When the sun shines, the plant reveals cheerful pale yellow and red colour stems to brighten the garden during the dull, cold winter months.

  • Interesting foliage all year round
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 2m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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3. Leucanthemella serotina (autumn ox-eye)

This cheerful looking perennial is a very late flowering daisy plant producing numerous sprays of very white flowers. The flowers turn their face to the sun, just like sunflowers do! They look wonderful placed at the back of the flower border and happily grow without the need for staking too.

  • Flowers in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 1.5m tall
  • Poorly-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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4. Acidanthera murielae (Abyssinian gladiolus)

These tender perennial corms produce statuesque scented flowers in the autumn which make great cut flowers. They are best grown in pots and stored over winter in a frost-free garage or building until the following spring when pots can be brought outdoors again.

  • Flowers in summer to autumn
  • Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK
  • Grows to 90cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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5. Liriope muscari (big blue lily turf)

It’s sometimes difficult to find good, easy to care for plants that grow well in dry shade. However, lily turf is one such plant that will thrive in those conditions. What’s more, they have handsome, grass-like, evergreen leaves that form neat mounds for low maintenance gardening. Another bonus is the spikes of bright violet flowers that appear at this time of year.

  • Flowers in autumn
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 45cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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6. Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia) ‘Variegatus’

Grasses are looking particularly good now with their handsome, subtly coloured seed heads. The mid-green leaves of this variety have wonderful cream stripes running along their length. As well, there are soft brown seedheads which can be left over winter to create additional interest in the border.

  • Flowers in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Persicaria amplexicaulis (red bistort) ‘Fat Domino’

This group of unassuming looking plants are one of the longest flowering, so they are perfect for pollinators. This variety produces lots of long, wide spikes of bright red flowers from late summer into early autumn. What’s more, the large, mid-green leaves are great at keeping the weeds at bay.

  • Flowers in summer and autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 90cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or poorly-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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8. Hylotelephium (stonecrop) ‘Red Cauli’

This is the time of the year when sedum plants come into their own. Their wide, shallow flowerheads attract lots of butterflies and bees and are easy to grow and look after. ‘Red Cauli’ will be covered in bright red coloured, small domed heads of flowers. The stems and leaves are both dark red making this a very striking plant for the front of a flower border.

  • Flowers in summer and autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1m tall
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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9. Tricyrtis formosana (toad lily) ‘Dark Beauty’

If you have a spot with damp soil in partial shade, fill it with an exotic looking plant like this. The late-flowering woodland plant has small white flowers so thickly dotted with purple that the petals look almost mauve.

  • Flowers in summer and autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 90cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full shade or partial shade
  • Exposed
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10. Amelanchier canadensis (service berry)

Amelanchier are small deciduous trees that are ideal for the smaller garden. They produce pretty, white blossom in spring, small red fruits in June and, at this time of the year, brightly coloured foliage. Amelanchier love growing in boggy, damp soil, and for the best autumn colour plant them in full sun.

  • Flowers in spring with interesting foliage in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 8m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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As we step into autumn, and the days get shorter, let’s make the most of our gardens and fill them with colour. Let me know what your favourite plant for autumnal foliage is over on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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