Six summer perennials for August

Ensure summer goes out with a bang by filling your garden with stunning, August-flowering perennials.

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Of course, the display doesn’t need to end on the last day of August – help extend the flowering of many plants by deadheading frequently. Don’t forget to include foliage plants, such as ornamental grasses, to boost the movement and texture in your plot.

Discover six summer perennials for August to grow, below.

Red-hot pokers (Kniphofia) are perfect for turning up the heat in containers, beds and borders.
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Dahlias

Dahlias really are at their peak in late summer and autumn. Pictured is a semi-cactus dahlia, Dahlia ‘Rev P. Holian’ – discover more cactus and semi-cactus dahlias to grow. Don’t forget to grow beautiful single-flowered dahlias, so pollinators can access the pollen and nectar.

Crimson blooms of Dahlia ‘Rev P. Holian’ 2

Astrantias

These lovely perennials are a doddle to grow. Moist, partial shade is best, and you’ll be rewarded with charming, starry blooms. Take a look at 10 varieties of astrantia to grow.

White astrantia flowers edged with deep pink 3

Kniphofias

Red-hot pokers (Kniphofia) are perfect for turning up the heat in containers, beds and borders. ‘Ice Queen’ has white-hot blooms, while those of ‘Nancy’s Red’ are a more mellow red-orange. Grow in full sun, in moist, well-drained soil.

Yellow red hot pokers 4

Salvias

Wildlife-friendly, beautiful blooms and attractive foliage – it’s hard to beat salvias. Here are 16 spectacular salvias you could grow. Deadhead to keep the flowers coming.

Deep pink flowers of Salvia involucrata 5

Japanese anemones

Japanese anemones are dependable, summer perennials for August that can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Most cultivars should be coming into flower in August. Simply mulch in spring and avoid transplanting, as they dislike this.

Advertisement A mid-pink Japanese anemone bloom 6

Asters

This includes the many species that were formerly placed in the genus Aster, but are now grouped differently, including Eurybia macrophyllus and Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’. Cut back hard after flowering.

Lilac aster flowers

Flowers in August: the best plants this month

Two richly coloured gladioli, a delicate sunflower and strong-growing, pale-blue ipomoea feature among Tom’s top picks. Read our piece on where’s best to catch them in full bloom here.

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Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’

© Jason Ingram

Tall, vibrant and blisteringly bright-orange flowers appear on this Mexican sunflower as the summer warms up. Grow as an annual and plant in full sun in reasonable garden soil to achieve a strong two metres of growth. Tithonias will keep flowering until the frosts (don’t forget to collect the seed). This is a strong cultivar with consistent dark-orange flowers that are hard to beat in mixed and exotic plantings. They detest the cold so resist planting them out until June.

Height 1-2m.
Origin Garden origin (species from Mexico and Central America).
Conditions Well-drained, fertile soil; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H2, USDA 9a-11.
Season of interest Midsummer to autumn.

2

Ipomoea ‘Caprice’

© Jason Ingram

I trialled several morning glories last year and they were surprisingly variable in their performance, but this was one of the best blues. Strong growth covered my 2m-high obelisk in foliage and pale-blue flowers erupted all over this plant. It was quite a spectacle, especially alongside some of the less floriferous forms. Avoid over feeding or you’ll end up with lots of leaf and only a few flowers, but other than that, in a sunny position, ipomoeas will provide lots of colour and interest well into the summer and cover up some of those less attractive fences.

3

Gladiolus ‘Bimbo’

© Jason Ingram

If you enjoy the increasingly popular trend of combining creams, dusky pinks and apricot hues, then this summer corm will make a great addition to your planting schemes. There is an antique, coppery quality to its tones that really makes it stand out from the crowd. As with most gladioli, you should plant from April onwards, in clumps where the plants are to flower, and staggered planting will give a longer flowering period. To ensure perenniality, lift the corms after the first cold spell and store in a dry, frost-free place until the following growing season.

Height 1.5-2m.
Origin Garden origin (species from South Africa).
Conditions Fertile, free-draining soil; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H3, USDA 7a-10b.
Season of interest Mid to late summer.

4

Helianthus debilis ‘Vanilla Ice’

© Jason Ingram

Sunflowers can be troublesome when it comes to their heavy flowerheads and can demand strong staking techniques to see them through the latter part of the summer. ‘Vanilla Ice’ is a more delicate, multi-branched individual, and as such is far less demanding. I grow this highly floriferous cultivar for cut flowers. The stems are wiry and the flowers are very useful in arrangements with other summer blooms, such as yellow zinnias and blue statice.

Height 1-2m.
Origin Garden origin (species from USA and Central America).
Conditions Moist but well-drained soil; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H2, USDA 9a-11.
Season of interest July – September.

5

Galtonia candicans

© Jason Ingram

Galtonias are widely available but as with a number of summer-flowering bulbs, they’re not used quite as often as they should be. I generally start these bulbs off in pots at the beginning of the year and plant out a strong specimen in the spring. Spikes of tiered, bell-shaped, white flowers appear in the summer and give a boost of colour and elegance to mixed borders and containers. Galtonias work well when planted in small clumps throughout a planting scheme to give an effortless and natural feel to your plantings. They’re also great for containers. AGM.

Height 50cm-1m.
Origin South Africa.
Conditions Moist but well-drained soil in growing period; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 6a-10b.
Season of interest Late summer.

6

Vernonia arkansana ‘Mammuth’

© Jason Ingram

Tall border plants can be hard to get right. They need to provide that essential, back-of-the-border, top tier, while also offering prime flowering performance. Vernonias provide both.
I’ve discovered them only recently, and was immediately entranced by these sophisticated and intriguing late-summer stars. With their dark-purple flowers, carried on tall, stately stems, they offer a late burst of colour to a border.

Height 1.5-2m.
Origin Garden origin (species from Northern and Central USA).
Conditions Tolerant of most garden soils with good moisture retention during summer months; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 5a-8b.
Season of interest Late summer through to autumn.

7

Gladiolus ‘Sylvia’

© Jason Ingram

It’s tricky to associate most gladioli with other garden flowers. The exotic blooms scream for attention and dominate their companions. ‘Sylvia’, in common with a number of other dwarf cultivars, is the exception to this rule. I use these little flowers in clumps throughout my herbaceous borders, providing a colourful pick-me-up through the latter part of the season. I’ve started to view them as a summer tulip. Plant them around 100 days before you want them to flower and enjoy a burst of colour when much of the garden is a little tired from the summer heat.

Height 1.5m.
Origin Garden origin (species from South Africa).
Conditions Fertile, free-draining soil; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H3, USDA 7a-10b.
Season of interest Mid to late summer.

8

Canna ‘Erebus

© Jason Ingram

There aren’t many of these water cannas around and this cultivar of Canna glauca is one of the best in terms of reliable, flowering performance. You can grow it in water margins or water-logged containers, submerging the roots throughout the summer. But it is equally happy flowering in a fertile garden soil. Treat it like any other canna, by allowing the first frost to slightly blacken the foliage and then bring it into a frost-free place for the winter. I have learned not to cut the foliage down until new growth emerges in spring. AGM*.

Height 1-2m.
Origin Garden origin (species from South America).
Conditions Poorly drained soil; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H3, USDA 7a-10b.
Season of interest July until first frosts.

9

Zinnia elegans ‘Benary’s Giant Wine’

© Jason Ingram

I grew a number of taller-stemmed zinnias in 2017, and the ones that stood out head and shoulders above all the others were those from the wonderfully consistent Benary’s range. They are available in a variety of colours, with one to suit almost every taste. This one from the Benary’s Giant Series is a classy plant, with sultry mulberry-coloured flowers. It is perfect grown as a cut flower, but will also have a strong presence in your borders until the first frosts.

Height 50cm-1m.
Origin Garden origin (species from Mexico).
Conditions Moist but well-drained, fertile soil; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H2, USDA 9a-11.
Season of interest Staggered sowing will produce flowers from July until first frosts.

10

Dahlia ‘Black Jack’

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I’d be more than happy to grow this dahlia for its foliage alone. Its strong architectural, glaucous foliage appears in the early summer and complements a number of garden plants. I’ve grown it alongside the earlier performing Potentilla ‘Gibson’s Scarlet’ to act as a foil to the fiery red blooms. As the year rolls on, very large and rich cactus flowers of the darkest maroon appear on very strong stems. Almost shrub like in its habit, this dahlia works on many levels as a garden plant – a welcome cutting flower too.

Height 1.5-2m.
Origin Garden origin (species from Mexico and Central America).
Conditions Well-drained, fertile soil; full sun.
Hardiness RHS H3, USDA 7a-10b.
Season of interest July until first frosts.

It’s not too late! Here’s what to plant in late June or early July

How to Grow

OK, so it’s the end of June and you’re feeling like it’s way too late to dig into gardening and get something truly meaningful done with your landscape, however big or small. Between work and play, those summers where May and June seem to fly by are all too real, but we have some good news! It’s never too late, and if you’re looking for a little quality time with your soil you have plenty of mid-summer options, flower and vegetable alike.

Flowers

  • Alyssum Saxatile: a hardy spring blooming perennial with beautiful, fragrant golden-yellow flowers that can be planted in June and will flower the following year.
  • Chinese Lantern: in a league all their own, Chinese Lanterns look eerily similar to ornamental paper lanterns. They’re bright orange, and have several lantern-shaped blossoms to a stem. Ideal for a fall or winter arrangement and visually exotic in just about any setting.
  • Christmas Rose: we have these beauties listed in our store as a rose ‘for a gardener looking for a challenge.’ Beautiful and long lasting, the Christmas Rose is a perennial with creamy-white pearls and lovely golden anthers.
  • Early Sunrise Coreopsis: when you’ve been specially bred to produce a vibrant, glowing display of semi-double golden-yellow blooms, you really knock it out of the park. These Early Sunrise Coreopsis have genetics on their side, and won’t disappoint!
  • Delphiniums: to say these Delphiniums grow high would be an understatement. At a formidable 60 inches high, the beautiful array of colours they produce will be visible to most and are particularly attractive to bees. Plant in June or July for flowers the following year.

Vegetables

  • Squash: summer squash planted in June will yield fresh vegetables in either July or August. The window is small here, so if squash is on your radar, this is one you should jump on, soon!
  • Broccoli: capable of growing right into November, broccoli is a good go-to if you’re planting in June or July and want to add some green to your meals.
  • Beans: we talked about bean teepees in one of our latest Inspiration Garden posts, and now beans in general are in the spotlight. Pole and bush alike, you can plant beans now and enjoy a reliable harvest.
  • Carrots: champions of the fall crop, carrots can be planted in July and will yield crops well into the fall and will sustain in your garden until needed and harvested.
  • Kale: your friend in both July and August, Kale will yield harvestable plants all the way through fall and into the winter. Plant these hardy vegetables before mid-August and reap the rewards.

Of course, these are just a few options open to you if you’re looking to get started with your garden a little later than usual. Drop by our store in Halifax, and one of our staff will be happy to assist you in picking out the right plants for the mid-summer job. Happy gardening!

How to Grow Saxifraga Plants

Saxifraga Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Rockfoil, Saxifrage, London pride, Strawberry Geranium, Mukdenia.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: Low growing up to 12 inches (30 cm).
  • Native: Northern hemisphere. Mountainous/glacial areas.
  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
  • Flowers: Species dependent: Late spring through to autumn.
  • Flower Details: White, red, pink. Small. Five petals. Large genus, so much variation e.g., Saxifraga stolonifera has pointed petals, whilst Saxifraga rivularis has a more rounded petal.
  • Foliage: Succulent. Hairy. Rosettes (at end of runners). Oblong to ovate. Creeping.
  • Sowing: Cover seed. Germination time: two weeks to two months. Spacing 4 to 18 inches (10—45 cm).
    Method 1: Seeds should first be sown into flats in the autumn. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist. Bring the flats indoor at the beginning of spring and keep at ~70°F (21°C). Transplant seedlings outdoors following the last frost.
    Method 2: In the spring, sow seeds in a moist growing medium in flats, wrap in a large plastic bag, then stratify by refrigeration for three weeks. Next bury the flat as described above. Once seedlings emerge transplant them to their final location.
  • Requirements and care: Partial or full shade, will not tolerate midday sun. Good drainage, especially in the winter. Moist, sandy/gritty soil. Keep soil cool. Add lime. Regular watering during the summer to maintain moist soil. Propagate: from root runners.
  • Family:
  • Closely Related Species:
  • Miscellaneous: The scientific name describes the plant’s medicinal ability to break kidney stones – Saxum (rock) and frangere (to break). Flowers of many species are edible, e.g., Saxifraga oppositifolia has semi-sweet petals.

While perennials add longevity to our gardens, annuals are great for adding a single-season punch of vivid color, interesting form, or a splash of fragrance wherever they’re needed.

They’re terrific in beds and borders, and a mainstay in containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes. But many of them slow down as summer wears on, fading and wilting, unable to handle the heat and dry conditions, or simply finished with their bloom cycle.

To ensure that your garden sparkles right until autumn, choose some of the annuals from the following list. There’s a hard-working plant for every environment, from dry or wet conditions to full sun and even deep shade.

Here are 15 of the best performers to add color to your late summer garden:

15 of the Best Annuals for Late Summer Color

  1. African Marigold
  2. Ageratum
  3. Clary Sage
  4. Cleome
  5. Coleus
  6. Cosmos
  7. Impatiens
  8. Jasmine Tobacco
  9. Mealycup Sage
  10. Million Bells
  11. Moss Rose
  12. Plains Coreopsis
  13. Petunia
  14. Rocktrumpet
  15. Woolflowers

Let’s take a closer look!

1. African Marigold (Tagetes erecta)

Also known as American or Aztec marigolds, African marigolds are noted for their large, showy flowerheads in shades of cream, orange, and yellow that grow on tall, sturdy stalks. Both flowers and foliage are fragrant when brushed against or crushed, and plants grow 1 to 4 feet tall, blooming bloom from June to frost.

T. erecta is easily grown in well-draining soil of average fertility and even moisture. Plant in full sun and provide some light shade in climates with hot afternoon sun. Remove spent flowers promptly. Provide tall varieties with support by underplanting with smaller French marigolds or plant in a site sheltered from heavy rain and strong winds.

Attractive to butterflies, the bright colors of African marigolds are attractive in beds, borders, containers, and edgings, or as a companion plant to hedge around vegetable gardens.

Burpee has a large selection of marigold seeds to choose from.

Learn all about growing marigolds right here.

2. Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)

Ageratum, or flossflower, gives old-fashioned appeal with its rounded clusters of fluffy, aster-like flowers in shades of blue, mauve, pink, and white. With a mounding habit, it grows 6 inches to 2.5 feet tall, and blooms from May until frost.

Easily grown in a full sun location with well-draining, humus-rich soil and medium moisture levels. Consistent watering is important as plants can wilt if soils get too dry. Tolerates light shade and appreciates some relief from very hot afternoon sun.

Ageratum attracts butterflies, is rabbit and deer resistant, and the tall varieties make good cut flowers. An excellent bedding plant, it’s well-suited to border fronts, containers, edging, rockeries, and windowboxes.

Find seeds in various shades of blue, white, and red at Eden Brothers.

3. Clary Sage (Salvia viridis/Salvia horminum)

Salvias add reliable late season color, and annual or blue clary sage is grown for its gorgeous bracts of pink, royal blue, or white – the flowers are small and insignificant. Borne on upright stems growing 18 inches to 2 feet high, it’s in high color from June to September.

S. viridis grows best in well-draining, humus-rich soil in a full sun location. It benefits from removing spent bracts to prolong flowering and will self-seed readily if a few spent bracts are left in place.

Attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, it makes an excellent fresh cut or dried flower and is deer and rabbit resistant. Superb when planted en masse or for vertical interest in beds, borders, containers, and cutting gardens.

Eden Brothers has a good range of color choices available.

4. Cleome (Cleome hassleriana)

Cleome, aka spider flower, has loose, airy flower balls in shades of pink, purple, and white with delightfully long, protruding stamens. Borne on upright stems, the fragrant blooms flower from June to frost, growing 3 to 6 feet tall.

It prefers well-draining soil of average fertility, dry to medium moisture, and full sun. Remove ripe seedheads if you don’t want it to self-seed.

Rabbit resistant and drought tolerant once established, it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and birds will visit ripe seedheads in late summer and autumn. Use cleome in the background of beds and borders, butterfly and cottage gardens, containers, or massed in clusters for bold color.

Order seed packets of cleome Queen Mixed Colors from True Leaf Market.

5. Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides/formerly Coleus blumei)

Coleus are tender tropical plants grown for their splendid, multi-colored foliage. Growing 1 to 3 feet high, they display vivid tones of bronze, chartreuse, copper, cream, green, maroon, orange, peach, pink, red, and off-white in endless patterned variations.

They prefer bright but indirect light and do well in partial to almost full shade. Give them well-draining soil of average fertility and keep the soil moist but not wet – dry soil causes them to wilt. Pinch out flower stems for bushy growth and to direct energy to the foliage.

Coleus is used effectively in the front of beds and borders, containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes in shady areas.

Burpee has several species and colors of coleus to choose from, available in both seeds and plants.

6. Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Cosmos produces showy flowers of orange, pink, red, white, or yellow with broad ray florets and yellow center discs that bloom from June to frost, and cultivars can include double rows of petals. It has an upright habit, growing 1 to 4 feet high with erect, multi-branched stems and delicate lacy leaves.

Cosmos does best in well-draining soil of average fertility with moderate, even moisture, and full sun. Deadhead spent flower blossoms but leave some in place for visiting birds, seed collection, or self-seeding.

Attractive to bees, birds, and butterflies, cosmos adds swaying charm to beds and borders as well as cottage, cutting, and naturalized gardens.

Eden Brothers has a good variety of cosmos seeds available in a variety of colors and sizes.

Read more about growing cosmos here.

7. Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana)

One of the most popular bedding plants worldwide, impatiens is another tender perennial grown as an annual, and has a spreading, mounded growth of 6 inches to 2 feet tall. Five-petaled flowers come in shades of mauve, orange, pink, purple, rose, and white, blooming with riotous color from June to frost.

I. walleriana is easily grown in well-draining, humus-rich soil amended with organic matter, with even moisture in a part to full shade site. It even tolerates heavy shade, adding color where most plants fail.

Impatiens look spectacular when massed in shady beds and borders or used as an edging plant along paths and walkways, and grown in containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes.

There’s a large selection of impatiens seeds and plants in mouth-watering colors available for purchase from Burpee.

8. Jasmine Tobacco (Nicotiana alata)

Yet another tender perennial that’s often grown as an annual, jasmine tobacco is nocturnally fragrant and grows 3 to 5 feet high. Tubular flowers in shades of lime green, mauve, pink, red, and white are borne atop upright stems, and bloom from June to frost.

It prefers consistently moist, well-draining, and organically rich soil in a full sun to part shade location. It also appreciates afternoon shade to provide relief from hot sunshine.

Attractive to birds and butterflies, jasmine tobacco looks fantastic planted en masse or in beds, borders, containers, and naturalized settings. Locate fragrant varieties near decks, patios, and open windows.

True Leaf Market has ‘Starmaker’ nicotiana seeds available in various colors as well as a deep purple cultivar. Burpee sells a pink, rose, white and red mix.

9. Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea)

Mealycup sage is a clump-forming, tender perennial that’s often grown as an annual. It features large racemes of flowers in shades of blue, purple, lavender, and white, and grows 18 inches to 3 feet high. Flowers grow atop erect, branching stems with shiny, green lancet leaves, and they bloom from May to frost.

It requires well-draining soil of average fertility, even moisture, and a full sun to part shade location. Tolerant of poor soils and brief – but not extended – droughts. If starting from seed, start indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost date to ensure a good display of flowers. Cuttings can be taken late in the season to overwinter indoors in a cool, bright location.

Attractive to butterflies and deer resistant, mealycup sage adds reliable color to beds, borders, cottage and cutting gardens, and naturalized meadows.

‘Sallyfun Blue Emotion’ is heat and drought resistant and has lovely, purple-blue flowers. Plants are available from Burpee and seeds are available from True Leaf Market.

10. Million Bells (Calibrachoa)

Million bells is a tender perennial grown as an annual, with continuous masses of small, petunia-like flowers in shades of blue, bronze, maroon, mauve, pink, red, white, and yellow. It blooms from June to frost and has a compact, mounding growth of 3 to 9 inches high with a trailing habit.

It grows best in well-draining, organically enriched soil with even moisture, in a full sun location. It will tolerate very light shade, but the number of flowers decreases as the amount of shade increases.

Million bells are heat resistant and deadheading is not required. Use them in the front of beds and borders, containers, hanging baskets, rockeries, and windowboxes.

Burpee has Calibrachoa seeds and plants available in a variety of colors.

11. Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora)

Moss rose is a low-growing annual succulent with clusters of ruffled, crepe paper flowers that bloom in clusters from June to frost in brilliant shades of orange, pink, red, rose, white, and yellow. Plants typically grow 6 to 8 inches tall with fleshy, needle-like leaves and flowers in single, semi-double, and double forms that close at night and on cloudy days.

Moss rose is easy to grow in well-draining, average soil with dry to medium moisture and a full sun location. Drought tolerant when established, this is a good choice for poor or dry soils.

Moss rose is attractive to butterflies and works well as an edging plant or ground cover, and in beds, borders, containers, hanging baskets, and rock gardens.

Burpee has two varieties of moss rose seeds available for purchase.

12. Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)

Plains coreopsis, or calliopsis, features daisy-like flowers with brilliant yellow petals, a maroon base, and a maroon disc center – and bred cultivars also include flowers in mauve, maroon, pink, red, and purple. They grow 2 to 4 feet tall on stiff, branching stems and flower from June to September.

C. tinctoria prefers well-draining soil of average fertility, dry to medium moisture, and a full to part sun location. It’s tolerant of drought conditions and dry, poor, rocky, or sandy soil and will self-seed readily.

Attractive to bees and butterflies, plains coreopsis shines in large plantings and is effective in meadows, naturalized areas, or wildflower gardens. It’s a good choice for sites with poor or dry soil.

Eden Brothers has seed in both the common yellow and red plains coreopsis (as shown above) and as well as a solid deep red cultivar.

13. Petunia (Petunia x hybrida)

Another prevalent bedding plant, the petunia’s popularity is largely due to its bushy, spreading habit with large, trumpet-shaped flowers available in every color except black and brown, including bicolors. The hybrids typically found in garden shops generally grow 10 to 14 inches tall and can spread as much as 2 to 3 feet wide, flowering from May until frost.

Most have some fragrance, but old-fashioned heirloom varieties, and some specially bred hybrids, are the ones to fill the evening garden with spicy perfume.

Petunias enjoy well-draining soil of average fertility, medium moisture, and a full sun to light shade location. Plants will tolerate poor soil provided drainage is good. Prompt removal of spent flowers encourages faster bud setting, and plants respond well to a light pruning if they become leggy.

Petunias look sensational when mass planted in beds, borders, containers, edging, hanging baskets, and windowboxes.

Burpee has a large variety of petunia seeds and plants available, including the heavenly-scented AAS winner, ‘Evening Scentsation.’

Find out more about growing petunias in this informative article.

14. Rocktrumpet (Mandevilla)

A fast-growing vine, rocktrumpet grows 3 to 10 feet tall, or 3 to 6 feet tall in containers. It features striking, trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of pink, red, white, and yellow set in glossy, dark green leaves, and blooms from June until frost.

A frost-tender tropical perennial, rocktrumpet is usually grown as an annual, but can be overwintered indoors if grown in containers. It prefers well-draining, sandy soil enriched with organic matter and medium moisture, and the soil should be allowed to dry between watering. Plant it in partial shade, with relief from hot afternoon sun, and provide a trellis.

Mandevilla is attractive to hummingbirds and makes an impressive climber – it’s well-suited to add vertical appeal to arbors, large containers, patios, or pergolas.

Direct Gardening has potted plants available in pink, red, or white.

15. Woolflowers (Celosia)

Woolflowers have showy blooms in bright colors of cream, orange, red, purple, and yellow that bloom from June to frost. Growing 6 inches to 3 feet tall, this old-fashioned favorite has spectacular flowers in a variety of plumed, pyramidal, and coral shapes made of small, densely packed flowers.

Celosia thrives in heat and humidity and grows well in well-draining soil of moderate fertility with consistent moisture in a full sun site. Protect taller stems from strong winds and deadhead to prolong bloom time.

Bee and butterfly friendly, woolflowers are good as fresh cut or dried flowers. Most effective when mass planted, add them to beds, borders, containers, and edgings.

True Leaf Market has several species of celosia to choose from.

Read more about growing woolflowers/celosia here.

The Late Summer Solution

Annuals are perfect as bedding plants, giving aromatic color and form to any planting area, and they’re the ideal solution to filling in tired or lifeless spots in the late summer garden.

Whether you need them for full sun locations, shady spots, dry areas, or wet soils, there’s an annual on our list to meet your needs for late summer color.

Do you have any questions about these plants, or suggestions we might have missed? Drop us a note in the comments below.

And be sure to check out some of our other late summer and fall planting guides to get the most out of the season! These will be of interest:

  • 19 Best Perennials for Late Summer Color
  • 15 of the Best Annuals for Vivid Fall Color

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About Lorna Kring

A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!

Summer Bedding Plants

Pink vinca, also called periwinkles.

Even during the oppressive heat of summer, your Florida landscape can still be home to a variety of bedding plants.

Before you jump right into planting, think about the specific growing conditions in your landscape. For example, consider how much sun or shade your yard receives and how well drained the site might be. Those with coastal landscapes will want to look for plants that can tolerate high winds and at least some level of salt (be it from sea spray or irrigation from wells that contain high levels of salt).

After you’ve taken into account your site conditions, think about colors and forms of the plants. Limit the varieties and colors you choose to create a cohesive look and prevent visual confusion.

Annuals

Annuals are plants that will last one season, and there are lots of warm-season annuals that you can use to bring color into your garden as the temperature rises. Gardeners love using annuals in the landscape because they allow you to change out plants and try new configurations year after year.

If you like plants with cool-colored blooms, try torenia, also called the wishbone flower. This plant will do well in the shade or the sun. Flowers resemble snapdragons and can be white, yellow, pink, violet, or purple, depending on the cultivar.

Zinnias have long-lasting flowers that are ideal for a cutting garden, and this heat-loving flower comes in pretty much every color except blue.

And if you’re looking for standout foliage, coleus and caladiums provide non-stop summer color to your sun or shade garden.

Perennials

When other plants are fading in the heat, perennials like Pentas lanceolata truly shine. These attractive plants produce red, pink, or white flowers throughout the summer and are a great source of food for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Scarlet salvia is a native of the Southeast, including Florida. Its striking red flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. This Florida-Friendly perennial looks especially attractive as a border or in mass plantings.

Lantana exhibits outstanding heat tolerance, and can stand up to wind and salt as well, making it a good choice for people who live near the coast. Nectar-laden blossoms make it a natural choice for butterfly gardens. That said, many species, including the common Lantana camara, are highly invasive, so choose one of the several “safe” lantanas for your landscape.

Melampodium is a tough, drought-tolerant plant that produces a mound of small yellow flowers throughout the summer. Several varieties are available, such as the compact ‘Million Gold’, ‘Lemon Delight’, and ‘ Derby ’ which top out at about ten inches. ‘Showstar’ and ‘Medallion’ are taller varieties that reach 24 to 36 inches tall. Melampodium is impressively resistant to both disease and insect, and they are self cleaning, so deadheading is not needed.

Melampodium

Planting

Make sure you select healthy plants to start out with; look for unblemished leaves, good green color, and lots of flower buds.

Once you select the right plants for your area you’ll want to make sure you start out with a properly prepared planting bed. For best results, clear a section of your landscape for the bed by removing grass and weeds. A few weeks before you plant, till at least 6 inches down to loosen the soil and add plenty of organic matter—like compost—to enrich the soil helping it retain more moisture and nutrients. Fertilize your flower beds before you plant or at planting time with a controlled-release complete fertilizer.

Before taking the plants out of the containers, make sure you water the pots, then gently loosen and spread the roots of your plants out. Once they are in the ground, add mulch to help retain moisture and keep weeds down. A border around your planting bed will help keep your grass from invading the area.

Many annuals, like marigolds, coleus, and annual salvia, will require deadheading—removing old blooms—to keep them blooming and looking neat. Others, like vinca, wax begonias, portulaca, and impatiens will continue to flower without removing spent blooms. Tender annuals are damaged by cold weather so you can leave them in your landscape until the first frost or freeze, or pull them out and replace them with hardier cool-season annuals to give your landscape some winter color.

For more information on growing summer bedding plants that are right for your area, contact your local county Extension office.

UF/IFAS Sites

  • Florida Gardening Calendar
  • Ten Beautiful (and Resilient) Plants for Hot Southern Gardens

UF/IFAS Publications

  • Gardening with Annuals in Florida

Also on Gardening Solutions

  • Angelonia
  • Annual Flowers
  • Caladiums
  • Cleome
  • Coleus
  • Crossandra
  • Gaillardia
  • Impatiens
  • Lantana
  • Marigolds
  • Ornamental Peppers
  • Pentas
  • Periwinkles (Vinca)
  • Salvias
  • Torenia
  • Zinnia

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