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Summer’s heat and humidity can take a toll on any garden, but many summer bloomers actually thrive in higher temperatures. Whether you’re planting annuals or perennials, read the plant tag or description and give them the right conditions:Full sun is considered six or more hours per day, while part sun is about half that. Shade means an area doesn’t get any direct sunlight or only a little morning sun. With perennials, make sure to choose those in your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here). And if you’ve planted in containers, check pots daily during heat spells, especially as the plant gets bigger and uses more water. Containers, especially porous materials such as clay or ceramic, dry out more quickly than plastic. Here are a few easy-to-grow annuals and perennials to add to your summer garden:
Once they bloom, you’ll need somewhere to display them—check out these vases to complete the look.
1. Sweet Alyssum
These tiny flowers love sun, so it’s no surprise they’re often used for landscaping edging. You can plant them in your garden, too, or even use them to fill in cracks in walkways. The low-growing flowers come in pink, salmon, purple, white, and yellow. Bonus: They boast a honey-like fragrance.
Varieties to try: Easter Bonnet, Pastel Carpet
This tough-as-nails annual comes in bright pink, yellow, purple and pink or a combination of sunny colors. It’s heat and drought tolerant, and butterflies and hummingbirds like it, too! In warm climates, lantana may survive winter and become a small shrub. Plant it at the front of borders. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Luscious Marmalade, Luscious Royale Cosmo
Nothing can beat cannas for sheer visual impact. Their gorgeous leaves and striking flowers in bold colors bloom all summer. This tropical plant grows well in containers or in the landscape. Their rhizomes (bulb-like structures) may be hardy in zones 8 and warmer, but in other regions, you’ll have to lift them from the ground in fall, store over the winter, and replant in spring. Needs mostly sun.
Varieties to try: Toucan Coral, The President
This low-growing annual succulent, also called moss rose, comes in jewel-tones and flowers and flowers all summer long. Its fleshy leaves make it heat and drought tolerant. Plant it in rock gardens or in the front of borders. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Mojave Fuschia, Color Carosel Mix
Spikes of pink, purple or white flowers top fragrant foliage. Pollinators love this perennial! It looks good to add height to containers or as the middle of a border planting. Needs mostly sun.
Varieties to try: Color Spires Azure Snow, Rose Marvel
Caladiums are grown for their cheerful pink and green heart-shaped leaves. They look equally striking in the landscape or in containers. Bonus: This tropical plant can be brought indoors in the fall to enjoy as a houseplant. Needs mostly shade.
Varieties to try: Miss Muffet, Heart to Heart Tickle Me Pink
This romantic perennial works in any garden setting, and its silvery foliage is attractive even before the fragrant purple spikes of flowers appear. Choose a type of lavender that will survive in your USDA hardiness zone. Needs mostly sun.
Varieties to try: Phenomenal, Munstead
It’s no wonder sunflowers attract bees—they’re gorgeous. They require full sun and are drought tolerant. Put them in patio containers, garden beds, or along borders. Yellow sunflowers are iconic, but the flower actually comes in more than 70 varieties.
Varieties to try: American Giant, Firecracker
Daylilies are as hardy as they come. Their flowers are found in every color of the rainbow, some with ruffled or double petals. As the name suggests, the flower lasts one day, but there are multiple blooms on each plant. Plant in masses for a spectacular swath of color in mid to late summer. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Double Pardon Me, Purple D’Oro
Brilliant red or orangey-red tubular flowers cover this hardy annual. Cuphea, also called firecracker plant, is a hummingbird magnet. Give it a large pot because it needs room to spread. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Vermillionaire, Flamenco Samba
This low-growing annual in shades of pink, purple and white is lovely tumbling over the edges of pots and window boxes. Fan flower blooms all summer long without the need to deadhead, or remove spent flowers. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Whirlwind Blue, Whirlwind Pink
These beautiful flowers that resemble roses or peonies are planted in the spring for summer blooms. They’re typically considered perennial in zone 8 and warmer, but they’re treated as annuals in colder climates (though you can lift the bulbs in fall and try replanting next year). Need full sun.
Varieties to try: Double Pink, Double Purple
Begonias come in many different colors ranging from hot pink to deep red to bright orange. Some are grown strictly for their striking foliage. They’re a reliable performer and will bloom all season long without deadheading. Needs mostly shade.
Varieties to try: Funky Pink, Dragon Wing Red
These delicate, papery flowers bloom in profusion in deep saturated tones of red, pink and salmon. Plant poppies in the spring for summer blooms. They’ll die back in the summer but should return next year. Need full sun.
Varieties to try: Pink Ruffles, Patty’s Plum
This hardy old-fashioned favorite is an annual your grandma probably planted. It’s long been popular with good reason: It’s nearly indestructible! It resists pests, blooms all season, and will even handle a light frost. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Queen Sophia, Triple Treat
16. Calla Lily
Calla lillies have striking sword-like foliage and beautiful vase-shaped flowers in purple, pink, white and even nearly black! They’re typically grown as annuals. Prefers full sun.
Varieties to try: Black Star, Red Alert
Peonies are lush, lavish, and sweetly scented, blooming in late May to early June. They’re a shrubby perennial that can flower for decades with the right care. Don’t plant too deeply or they won’t bloom. And don’t fret about the ants; they’re just sipping nectar and don’t hurt the plant! Need full sun.
Varieties to try: Festiva Maxima, Sarah Bernhardt
Succulents are heat and drought tolerant, and they come in an amazing array of shapes and sizes. Some have small intricate-looking flowers, but they’re often grown more for their fun and unusual forms. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Sir William Lawrence Hens and Chicks, Lemon Coral
Mums come in every color you can imagine! Purchase mums in the spring to allow time for their roots to grow so they can come back next year. If you plant them in the fall, when you typically see them at nurseries and retailers, you’ll enjoy them for the season but the plant won’t have time to get established before winter.
Varieties to try: Matchsticks, Daisy Quill Yellow
These beautiful flowers bloom just as the rest of your garden in winding down in late summer. Some have blooms up to 10 inches across, so they’re real showstoppers in borders. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Fleural, Pot Luck
21. Shrub Rose
Shrub roses, also called landscape roses, are hardy and beautiful summer bloomers. They come in every color of the rainbow, too, and bloom reliably until first frost! Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: Oso Easy Italian Ice, Coral Drift
Extra-bright colors, sturdy stems, and huge blooms on some varieties make this annual a must-have for any garden border. Zinnias attract pollinators and bloom until frost, too. Needs full sun.
Varieties to try: White Wedding, Forecast Mix