Summer Gardening: What to Plant and How to Thrive

July 31, 2018

Summer Gardening: What to Plant and How to Thrive

With springtime comes the flurry of activity that comes with preparing the garden for the coming growing season. As the weather turns nice, the garden begins to flourish and some gardeners are left with a feeling of listlessness as their task list dwindles. Just because the typical garden schedule slows down (somewhat) in the summer though, doesn’t mean that you can’t stay busy gardening throughout the entire season.


How to Tend Your Plants When Summer Gardening

One of the key aspects of summer gardening is tending to the plants that were started just as the weather and soil temperatures warmed up. You will need to keep flower and garden beds weeded, scouted for pests, fertilized regularly, and deadheaded to remove spent blooms. If your garden isn’t on a timed irrigation system it’s critical to keep plants watered on a consistent schedule -- barring natural irrigation events such as rainstorms -- to prevent stunted growth or deformities in the fruits being formed.


How to Tend Your Plants in Containers

If you’re looking to keep yourself busy gardening through the dog days of June, July, and August you can always turn your extra attention toward growing some extra plants in containers. This will not only add extra color and texture to your landscape, but will give you additional plants to tend to. Container plants require a little extra effort and work as they dry out more quickly; this means they need to be watered and fertilized more often than traditional in-ground plants and vegetables.


Flowers to Plant in Mid-Summer

There are plenty of amazing plants that thrive in containers and do really well in the hot summer months. Here are some of the flowers you can plant in the summer: 


Petunias are one of the most popular annuals because of their wide selection of available colors and loads of blooms. They come in spreading, trailing, and mounded varieties helping to add dimension to your containers.


Verbena has a natural vigor, shielding its abundant blooms from the hottest part of the summer. These plants also attract butterflies, increasing the chances of pollinating other garden plants in the vicinity.

Cape Daisy

Cape Daisy blooms throughout the summer and well into the fall, creating low maintenance color for containers. Their cut flowers make beautiful flower arrangements to bring some of the outside beauty inside the home.


Coleus comes in a wide variety of colors and leaf shapes, making it a great accompaniment to any container arrangement you are putting together.


Geraniums are a classic summertime plant and adorn patios and gardens everywhere. Their easy to grow nature makes them great as container plants.

Elephant’s Ears

Elephant’s Ears produce stunningly huge leaves, adding variety to containers and helping to create shade and privacy on a patio or deck.


Viola plants are incredibly hardy, tolerant of both heat and cold, making them a great plant for summer container gardening. They are typically grown as annuals but as many gardeners will attest to, they will come back year after year.


Zinnia add brilliant, bright color to containers while being low maintenance and heat tolerant. Available in every color but blue they help to draw pollinators to your yard as well.


Summer Container Gardening

An added benefit to summer container gardening is that it adds pops of color to places like your patio or deck that may look a little lackluster compared to the surrounding flower beds and gardens. Containers add color and texture and can be personalized based upon your favorite colors for the year, or even just made to coordinate with summer parties you are planning.

As the summer season progresses, it may be beneficial to plants to move containers around to keep them out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. Having containers on heavy-duty rolling plant caddies will make moving them much easier, saving yourself time and sparing yourself a backache. Keeping them out of the intense sun will help keep the potting soil from drying out too quickly and the plants from experiencing water stress.

As summer begins to wind down, it’s a great time to think about adding plants to the garden to add some fall color to the landscape, or to plant some cool season crops that will do well as the temperatures start to fall.


Vegetables to Plant in Late Summer

The following vegetables do really well if planted in late summer, with just enough time to mature before the frost hits.


Plant in late July or August to give the seeds time to produce mature plants in the fall. The cooler, quicker season will produce tender, “baby” carrots that are sweeter. You can actually leave them in the ground through the winter (protected with mulch or straw) and the tops will flower the following year to produce seeds.


Get seeds in the ground about 6-8 weeks before frost is predicted for your area, making sure to plant in a full sun location so plants grow quickly. Then as the temps begin to drop you can enjoy freshly roasted, straight from the garden cauliflower.


The key to planting spinach in late summer is waiting until the soil temperatures have cooled enough. Spinach does not like warm temps at all, and instead of focusing on growing leaves the plants will bolt and go to seed if it is too hot. Mid-August is a great time to plant to see a harvest of spinach before the growing season is done due to frost.


In ideal conditions, radishes can go from seed to table in about a month. Planting a late-season crop means you’ll have tender radishes to enjoy consistently; plant every two weeks for a successive harvest.



Summer gardening doesn’t have to just mean weeding the vegetable garden and flower beds, or sitting back on the patio admiring what you planted just as the threat of the last frost passed. There are many container plants that can be planted during the summer that thrive during the heat of June, July, and August. There are also numerous plants that can be planted in the ground as the days begin to shorten and the temperatures start to fall, extending your gardening season much longer than what is considered the traditional gardening timeline.

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