it’s official. april 15th has come and gone and that can only mean one thing for me. and no, it’s not that our taxes are finished.
in my neck of the woods, april 15th is the average last frost date. and that means it is safe to start planting our summer annuals!
i’m planning a trip to the garden center this weekend to start changing out my flowerbeds. and as i was brainstorming a list of the plants i want to get, i thought i might share with you some of my favorite summer plants and flowers.
before i get to the plants, first i want to share with you my criteria for compiling this list. summer gardening in oklahoma is not for sissies. the heat is big problem. but as we move through early summer, drought becomes an issue…july, august, and september are our hottest, driest months. so naturally whatever plants i choose must be able to take the intense summer heat and also be somewhat drought tolerant as well.
the other criteria for me is that a plant has to be low-maintenance. and by that i mean that it cannot require constant deadheading or tending. because i’m lazy. because in the middle of the summer i prefer the ‘sit in shade with a glass of pinot grigio’ type of gardening to the ‘hunched over a flowerbed, sweating my ass off, picking off dead flowers’ gardening.
can i get an amen?
to get a spot in my garden you gotta be tough, assertive, and self-motivated to do your own thing. no fussy or sissy plants allowed. ain’t nobody got time for that.
ok…so now that we’re on the same page, here is my list of top ten summer plants. it is comprised of both perennials (those that come back every year) and annuals (those that are only for one season). and they all make me really happy!
1) impatiens impatiens (annual) are the workhorse of my summer garden. i love their deep green leaves and bright, bold blooms. i use them in the ground and in pots. and although they are best suited for shade, they will tolerate some early morning sun. impatiens also take the heat and don’t need any deadheading. a total winner. the thing about impatiens is that they do need regular water, but i only plant them in areas where we have a sprinkler system or hose nearby. and in deep shade especially, they can sometimes get a little leggy (meaning leaves and flowers only near the tips). so usually once in mid-late summer, i’ll cut them all back by a third and they will power on well into september.
2) begonias another workhorse of the summer garden, begonias (annual) are a perfect choice for areas where i have a mix of sun and shade (the bronze-leafed varieties tolerate the sun a little more than the green-leaf varieties). i love their sweet little flowers and once again these guys don’t need deadheading. with begonias, i like to plant them en masse for a full, colorful display.
3) lantana in my backyard where i have full sun, i love planting lantana (annual). especially around our pool area where there is added challenge of reflected heat and light from water. the kaleidoscope of bright, happy colors is so delightful. and as an added bonus, they attract butterflies!!
4) zinnias i’ve only mentioned zinnias (annual) here on my blog a time or twelve. but no list would be complete with out them. i love zinnias for their toughness but also for their sentimental value. they come in a myriad of colors and sizes…the smaller ones are great in pots! plus they make awesome cut flowers – you can enjoy their beauty inside as well.
5) caladiums ok so caladium (annual) aren’t technically flowers. but their leaves are so colorful and they add such a gracefulness to the summer shade garden. i love pairing them with impatiens…and like impatiens they do need regular water. but they take the heat like nobody’s business and they last well into late summer with little maintenance.
6) daylilies oh daylilies (perennial)….swoon….as the name suggests, a daylily flower lasts for only a day. but once established, it can have dozens of blooms that carry on for several weeks. and depending on the variety, daylilies can bloom early-mid summer. so i usually have a solid month or two of daylily blooms. and the variations in color both in the petals and the ‘throat’ are just amazing. most daylilies need at least a few hours of full sun everyday, but like most plants, they do also appreciate a reprieve from the brutal late afternoon sun and heat.
7) salvia ok. i’ll be the first to admit…i’m a total sucker for anything with blue-ish/purple-y, spikey flowers. i love the contrast in color so many of the pink/coral/yellow tones of summer. plus salvia (annual and perennial varieties) are, once established, somewhat drought tolerant and have a sage-like fresh scent. and as a bonus, they attract butterflies!
8) shasta daisy infamously dubbed as ‘the friendliest flower’ by kathleen kelly in the movie you’ve got mail, shasta daisies (perennial) bring a sweet charm to the summer garden. they have a long blooming season and need little maintenance (only occasional deadheading). plus their bright white petals really brighten up the garden i think. and they make lovely cut flowers as well.
i. love. hostas.
sidenote…dear kelly, if you would do a better job of keywording your photos in lightroom, maybe you could have found all the zillions of pictures of hostas that you have.
once again, i realize that hostas (perennial) aren’t flowers, but they bring so much color and texture into my summer shade garden. there are dozens and dozens of varieties of hostas with all types of color and leaf variations. they are super heat tolerant and only occasionally need maintenance if they slugs get after them too bad.
10) purple-fountain grass once again, i know it’s not a flower. but this purple fountain grass (annual in my neck of the woods) is a summer favorite. i plant this in full-sun by my back porch and it fills in a adds such beautiful color and texture – a lovely contrast to the stacked rock steps. totally heat and drought tolerant. no maintenance. and it’s super fun to photograph.
wow…making this was harder than i thought…and some of my favorites – hydrangeas, astilbes, and roses (oh my!) – did not make the cut. reason being, hydrangeas….well i LOVE them. but in my neck of the woods they are high maintenance. to start with, they are complete water hogs and then in the heat of the summer, by mid-afternoon their leaves droop in defeat. that’s OK though…their deep green leaves and giant mophead blooms are so pretty. and i love the pretty pastel colors.
oh and one last one…let’s call it honorable mention….my husband’s favorite summer flower…petunias. and it’s not that i don’t like them….it’s just that the regular variety needs so. much. deadheading. i mean…i cannot even deal with the deadheading. now the new ‘supertunias’ solve the deadheading problem for the most part, so if you just have to have those bold, trumpet shaped flowers in your summer garden i would suggest getting those instead.
so there you have it….i hope this post gives you some ideas for plants in your garden. i hope they provide you with beauty and color and still plenty of time for enjoying!