Tips for Choosing Spring Plants That Bloom in Summer
The days start to get a little longer, temperatures begin to rise, and before you know it, it's time to start working in your garden. If you're a gardening novice, tending to your landscape at the start of spring can be a little overwhelming. Chances are, you have a vision for how you want your garden to look, but you may not be sure about how to choose the right plants to make your vision a reality.
It's likely that your plan for your spring garden includes a lot of color. But, which plants will produce the blooms that will give the look you desire for your garden? There are so many varieties of flowering plants available, with some offering all-season color and others only producing blooms for a few weeks. The choices can be intimidating, and it can be a challenge to determine which plants bloom in the summer.
In this guide to spring plants, we will help you choose flowers that are sure to provide color this summer and teach you how to care for them.
Why Certain Plants Don't Bloom in the Summer
Most gardeners desire continuous color in their gardens. However, different plants bloom at different times of the year, and determining which plants to include in your garden to achieve blooms all summer long can get a bit complex. The science behind when certain plants produce flowers and why involves several factors, including:
- Food and Water: While it may sound counterintuitive, a lack of nutrients can force a plant to bloom early. It's a survival tactic — a plant without enough resources will try to reproduce before it dies.
- Light: A plant's light sensors influence when it blooms. These sensors let a seedling know when it is above the soil, which allows it to begin photosynthesis. Plant proteins that sense light called phytochromes play a role in blooming. These phytochromes sense red light and far-red light and are a sensor for knowing when to flower, greening, measuring nearness to other plants and avoiding shade.
- Temperature: Plants can sense air and soil temperatures and will avoid blooming until temperatures warm up enough. Also, some plants require a cold spell to produce blooms — this is called vernalization.
- Age: Sometimes, age is a factor when blooming will occur. Some plants need to reach full maturity before they can produce flowers.
How to Choose Summer Blooming Plants for Your Landscape
When choosing flowers for your spring garden, you will likely see two choices:
Annuals: Annuals live for just one season. They offer an excellent opportunity to get creative and try something new from year to year. Annuals bloom all season, so you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the vibrant and varied colors they will bring to your garden.
- Perennials: Perennials are more of an investment. The upfront cost tends to be higher, and they often do not bloom as long as annuals. However, perennials return each year, generally for at least three years. Perennials are a smart choice because there are many different varieties available to add interest to your garden. Beyond that, you can often find native perennial plants that will work for your garden. Plus, you can enjoy them year after year!
Summer Blooming Annuals
Working annuals into your garden is a great way to add pops of color wherever your garden needs it. Here are some low-maintenance annuals that will provide blooms throughout summer:
- Tuberous Begonias: This upright plant looks fabulous as a bedding plant or in hanging pots. Tuberous begonias are actually perennials but are usually grown as annuals. Be sure to remove spent blooms as they fade.
- Wax Begonias: Wax begonias, or fibrous begonias, do well in partial shade or indirect light. These annuals make good bedding plants and require minimal deadheading.
- Geraniums: Geraniums are perennials that are grown as an annual in cold-winter climates. They are happiest in climates with warm, dry days and cooler nights. Geraniums require frequent pinching to keep the plant looking full.
- Impatiens: New Guinea impatiens are hardy plants with attractive foliage and bold-colored flowers. New Guinea impatiens can be grown in the sun, whereas the impatiens walleriana variety requires shade or partial shade to thrive. Impatiens walleriana is another perennial that's typically grown as an annual. It does well in containers or garden beds.
- Marigolds: Marigolds are easy-to-care-for annuals that do best in full sun and well-drained soil. Plant in or near vegetable patches, as the flowers' distinct smell will help repel insect pests.
- Scarlet Sage: Though it is a perennial, Scarlet Sage is usually grown as an annual. Regular deadheading will keep this flower in bloom all summer.
Summer Blooming Perennials
Your ultimate goal is to have blooms in your garden all summer long. This can be tricky with perennials because most only bloom for three to four weeks, but there are a couple of approaches that will work. You can choose plants that bloom at different times to ensure there is always some color in your garden. For example, when one plant is finished blooming, another will begin, allowing for continuous blooms all summer long. Another option is to choose perennials that bloom all summer long.
Some perennials with longer-lasting blooms include:
- Astilbe: Also known as false spirea, astilbe will bloom from the beginning of summer through to early August. Astilbe does best when planted in the shade. It produces blooms in white, pink or red.
- Black-Eyed Susan: The gloriosa daisy, more commonly known as the black-eyed Susan, produces blooms with golden yellow-to-orange petals and dark brown-to-black centers. They bloom in the summer and continue to flourish into fall. Black-eyed Susans grow tall — up to 3.5-feet — and attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
- Clematis: Clematis produces colorful flowers that will thrive all season, and you can choose a variety that will bloom in the summer. It is a vine, so make sure to plant it near a fence where it can climb. Clematis do well in the sun, but with roots in the shade.
- Double Hollyhock: Double hollyhock is happy in full sun and produces large blooms in red, pink or yellow. The plant can grow up to 7 feet tall.
- Hardy Geranium: Also known as cranesbill, this flower is a perennial with long-lasting blooms. It flowers all summer long and into fall.
- Leadwort or Plumbago: These flowers bloom from late summer through to fall. Toward the end of the season, the foliage begins to turn into a reddish color.
- Purple Coneflower: Also know as echinacea, purple coneflower is another tall perennial option. As the name suggests, it produces purple flowers, and the blooms will last through the summer and into fall.
- Salvia: This perennial produces purple blooms all through summer until the first frost.
- Shasta Daisy: This white flower with evergreen foliage, named for Mount Shasta, will bloom in your garden all summer. Maintain Shasta daisies with deadheading to ensure they will bloom continuously until fall. It's not recommended you get too close though, as some claim they have an unpleasant smell.
- Spiderwort: Spiderwort's flowers range in color from blue to magenta, and they bloom in the afternoon through to late summer. It is a tuberous plant, meaning it will spread to fill the space in which it is planted. Spiderwort can be cut back in the late summer to produce more blooms.
- Stella D'Oro Daylily: This variety of daylily is a popular one because it is re-blooming. Stella D'Oro Daylilies produce golden yellow flowers. Daylilies are a great option for your garden because they are hardy, relatively low-maintenance plants.
Flowers That Will Provide All-Season Color
Beautiful foliage and edible plants can be a great addition to your garden, but one thing most people want in their landscapes is consistent vibrant color. The following are some no-fail plant options that will produce blooms for weeks on end in the summer:
- Black-Eyed Susan: Brown-eyed Susan produces yellow or orange blossoms with a raised, brown center. Some varieties are annuals and bloom from seed in the first year, while many others are grown as perennials and produce blooms more gradually.
- Evergreen Candy Tuft: This plant has dark evergreen leaves with clusters of small, white flowers that bloom in the spring and continue to bloom until fall.
- Globe Amaranth: Depending on the variety you choose, Globe Amaranth will produce flowers in white, red, pink, purple or lilac. Blooms are long-lasting in both the garden and in a bouquet. In addition, they are great for drying for wintertime use.
- Hibiscus: This large plant can produce blooms up to a foot in diameter, with stems ranging from 2- to 8-feet high. Hibiscus was bred from wildflowers originating in the east and south and is often associated with a tropical climate. It produces flowers in red, pink and white, blooming from late spring until frost.
- Joe Pye Weed: This tall plant works well as an anchor in a perennial bed or planted as a screen. This wildflower attracts birds and butterflies.
- Marigolds: Marigolds produce yellow and orange flowers with a distinct smell, which helps repel pests. Depending on the variety, marigolds blooms will have just one or two rows of petals, like a daisy, or will feature densely-packed petals.
- Petunias: Many varieties of petunias have a spreading habit and do well in hanging pots or as a groundcover. Petunias are grown as annuals in all zones, and they do best in full sun.
- Purple Coneflower: Purple coneflower, or echinacea, is a perennial plant that is hardy and easy to care for. It produces pink to purple flowers from mid-summer into fall, and it attracts butterflies.
- Sea Holly: This unique plant might look more like a thistle than a flower. The flower and leaves are a blend of blue, green and silver tones. The flowers are conical, or cone-shaped, and surrounded by spikey silver bracts
- Sunflowers: Sunflowers produce large, showy yellow flowers, with stems that can grow up to 15 feet tall, depending on the variety. Unsurprisingly, these flowers do best in full sun and have a high tolerance for dryness and heat.
- Stella D'Oro Daylily: As the name suggests, a daylily bloom lasts just one day. However, each stem has multiple buds that open one at a time. Stella D'Oro daylilies keep producing stems with yellow flowers for up to five months.
- Zinnias: Zinnias thrive in hot summer conditions, and though they love the sun, this hardy plant will bloom even in the rain. Zinnias produce plenty of blooms, adding vibrant color to your landscape.
How to Care for Summer Blooming Plants
Once you choose your summer blooming plants, there are steps you can take to keep them looking healthy and attractive all season long. The simple act of pruning or pinching your plants partway through the season will help prevent plants from becoming too top-heavy or leggy. Legginess occurs in plants when good growing conditions cause their stems to elongate to the point where the plant is no longer sturdy.
A few tips for caring for these plants include:
- Pruning: Prune perennials that have become too top-heavy. This will encourage branching, which will make it less likely to flop. Pruning can also help delay blooms. You can do this with hand pruners or with your fingers. Cut off the top few inches to a couple of spots where new side branches can emerge.
- Pinching: Partway through the season, pinch excess growth on leggy annuals to help increase the fullness of the plants and help improve its bloom performance. Annuals like begonias, petunias, celosia and coleus have dormant buds along their stems. Removing the tip of the plant will help it to expand and produce more blooms. It also helps create a neater appearance.
- Deadheading: Be sure to remove spent blooms from your summer blooming plants. Otherwise, the plant will expend energy on seed production.
- Adding Support: Some plants that have received generous amounts of water or fertilization may tend to flop over. Use commercial cages or wire stakes and string tie to help support tall or top-heavy plants.
Of course, to achieve healthy-looking plants all season long, it helps to start off on the right foot. When purchasing perennials, choose 1-gallon plants with full, healthy-looking foliage. Avoid buying plants with blooms. Once you get your plants, be sure to provide them with the right growing conditions — that means making sure your plants are receiving the correct amount of water, light and shade.
With perennials, patience is critical. In their first year, perennials may only produce a few blooms. With the right care, you can expect to see much more flowers in the plant's second and third years.
Shopping for Summer Blooming Plants
With so many choices available for summer blooming plants, it can be a challenge to know where to begin. If you shop for plants online with Garden Goods Direct, you can be sure your plants have Woodie's Quality Seal of Approval.
Woodie is a dedicated horticulture expert who is filled with useful plant knowledge, committed to quality and interested in adding more green to the environment. He wants to encourage homeowners everywhere to spend more time greening up their landscapes and gardens. When selecting your plants from Garden Goods Direct, Woodie is always there to offer help.
Ordering your plants from our online store saves you from having to walk around a nursery, which can be an intimidating experience for new gardeners. There's no need to fear that you'll pick the wrong plant or get something of inferior quality. Plus, you don't have to worry about lugging large plants home.
With Woodie's help, you can be sure you're getting the highest quality plant available in that size class for the price. Our plants often arrive the next day and are of the highest landscape grade. If plants don't arrive in healthy condition, or if you simply don't love what you received, you can send your order back for a full refund!
When it comes time to choose the right plants to add summer color to your garden, be sure to drop us a line. We're eager to help!