What to plant in August

Kohlrabi

August is a great time to sow seeds and plant young plants in the UK. In the vegetable patch, sowing and planting out now will keep your cropping season going, providing you with short-term harvests of salad leaves and other quick-growing crops such as radishes, along with longer-cropping plants like winter cabbages. For veg that need a bit of time to crop well, planting in August will ensure plants get plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures before autumn sets in.

In ornamental borders and cuttings patches, August is a great time to get ahead and plan for the following year. Sowing hardy annuals now will give you an early crop of flowers in spring, while biennials sown in August will flower by the following summer.

Bear in mind that, while warm August temperatures are perfect for aiding seed germination, the water table is lower so you may need to provide additional water to seedlings and newly planted plants.


Vegetables to plant in August

Lettuce

Lettuce salad leaves
Lettuce salad leaves

Hardier than they look, lettuces can be overwintered in greenhouses and beneath cloches, for picking leaves from April through to June.


Spinach

Young spinach
Young spinach leaves

Sown in late August, spinach can provide a crop of young leaves in October and then enter dormancy over winter, ready to provide a fresh crop of leaves in early spring. survive harsh frosts and rain. Sow direct in well-prepared, fertile soil, and cover with a low cloche when temperatures start to fall.


Oriental leaves

Oriental leaves growing out
Oriental leaves growing out

Fast germination makes oriental leaves satisfying to sow, whether direct in soil or in modules for planting out. The latter method works better in wet summers (slugs may eat rows of seedlings in a night). Sow three seeds per module, and thin to one or two plants. Cover with a cloche as temperatures begin to fall in autumn.

Watch Monty Don sow oriental leaves in this clip from Gardeners’ World:


Rocket

Rocket plants
Rocket plants

Wild rocket sown in early August will provide you with a crop of fresh leaves before winter, and then lie dormant until March, when it will put on new growth. Salad rocket stands the best chance of surviving frosts if sown in late August. It also offers more leaves in winter than wild rocket, but often bolts in April.


Corn salad

Young corn salad (lamb's lettuce) plants in modules
Young corn salad (lamb’s lettuce) plants in modules

Corn salad is a delicious leaf crop that crops throughout winter. Sow direct in well-prepared soil and cover with a ow cloche when temperatures start to drop. Corn salad roots are shallow, so water regularly if under cover or in otherwise dry conditions.


Spring onions

Freshly harvested spring onions
Freshly harvested spring onions

Onions don’t germinate well in temperatures regularly above 20°C, so bear this in mind when sowing in August. Either sow direct in rows outdoors, with seed covered by 2cm of soil, or in modules, with up to 10 seeds in each, for a harvestable ‘clump’ in spring.


Turnips

A bunch of turnips pulled from the earth
A bunch of turnips pulled from the earth

Turnips are best sown direct and then thinned. Sow seeds sparingly because, although they’re tiny, they all seem to germinate and subsequent growth is rapid. Thin in late August or early September. Module-sown seed can be thinned to two or three roots in each, for planting out in late August. Fleece or mesh help keep pigeons, butterflies and cabbage root fly at bay.

Chicory

Chicory ready to harvest
Chicory ready to harvest

Hardy chicory can be sown from February to September for a long cropping season, so continue sowing in August for a harvest over winter. Start the seeds off in a seed tray, before planting out in a sunny spot.


Cabbages

Water droplets on a large cabbage
Water droplets on a large cabbage

Spring cabbages can be sown direct outdoors, or indoors in modules to be planted out later, while winter cabbages grown from seed in previous months should be planted out now. Protect from cabbage white caterpillars and pigeons using fine netting suspended 1m off the ground to protect hedgehogs, or a bespoke cage.


Chard

Yellow-stemmed Swiss chard
Yellow-stemmed Swiss chard

Chard can be successionally sown throughout spring and summer, but August is your last chance to make a sowing for a winter crop. Sow direct in shallow drills or in pots of moist, peat-free compost.

Buy chard seeds from Crocus


Japanese onions

Sowing onion seed
Sowing onion seed

Japanese onions are bred to withstand winter cold and now is the time to sow them. Cultivars to sow and grow include ‘Senshyu’ and ‘Radar’.

Buy Japanese onion seeds from Crocus


Kohlrabi

Purple kohlrabi, ready to harvest
Purple kohlrabi, ready to harvest

Sow kohlrabi as soon as you can in August, for a late harvest in October. Both the leaves and swollen stems can be eaten – enjoy them roasted, stewed or raw.

  • Buy kohlrabi seeds from Crocus

Flowers to plant in August

Pot marigold (Calendula)

Calendula 'Fruit Twist'
Calendula ‘Fruit Twist’

Colourful and easy to grow, calendulas can be sown in August and September, for flowers in the following spring. They’re hardy, so simply direct sow them where they are to flower, either in shallow drills on the ground or in pots.


Cornflowers

Cornflower - Centaurea cyanus
Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus

As with pot marigold, you can sow cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) in August for May flowers. Cultivars to sow and grow include ‘Black Ball’, which has deep chocolate-coloured blooms, and ‘Blue Ball’. Sow direct in shallow drills in the soil or on the surface of moist, peat-free compost in pots.


Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots in bloom
Forget-me-nots in bloom

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) can be sown throughout the summer months and into September. A useful ground cover plant for shade, they make a fine companion plant with tulips, and will readily self-seed once established. Sow in seed trays for planting out in spring or direct when you want them to grow.


California poppies

California poppies
California poppies

Despite their vivid, exotic appearance, California poppies, Eschscholzia californica, are hardy annuals, and will survive a winter outdoors. Simply sow where you want them to flower, wither in shallow drills in well-prepared beds or on the surface of moist peat-free compost in pots.


Wild carrot

Flowering wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace
Flowering wild carrot or Queen Anne’s lace

Wild carrot or Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota) looks magnificent as part of a wildlife garden. Choose a sunny, well-drained spot for this biennial and sow in well-prepared soil where you’d like it to flower.

  • Buy wild carrot seeds from Crocus

 

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