There’s nothing quite like a summer garden. It offers an oasis where you and your family can relax, a stunning backdrop for that summer barbecue, and a source of constant beauty and the quiet pride of a job well done. However, gardening in the summer also has unique challenges, such as an increase in pests and mold, along with the scorching summer heat. Here are ten gorgeous summer flowers that can take the summer’s lickin‘ and keep on ticking, providing beautiful blossoms in the hottest months.
Dahlias are gorgeous, unusually symmetrical summer flowers that come in a wide variety of colors and sizes: dwarf dahlias only grow a few inches above the ground. As such they can make excellent garden fronts as well as tall showstoppers further back into your bed. Dahlias are hardy zones 8-10.
Lilies are often forgotten in the pantheon of summer blooms because they require a bit of advance preparation. However, they’re a plant-them-then-forget-them bulb, and make a stunning display near water. Try mixing and matching Oriental Lilies (pink), Tiger Lilies (orange) and Calla lilies (white).
Zinnia are a cheerful and charming little annual, with balls of bright color at medium height. Very forgiving, they are a great plant for young, first-time gardeners, or for anyone who likes a no-fuss flower. Zinnias provide abundant blooms; if you collect the flowers, the plant will only make more and more. These flowers are easy to grow from seed as well, and can be sown directly into your garden after last frost. Hardy zones 3-10.
Marigolds — who doesn’t love their green, growing smell, and their cheery, ruffled-petal sweetness? They’re also one of the hardiest garden flowers, putting up with cool and warm temperatures alike: they will keep blooming from spring through fall if the dead blooms are removed. Marigolds are one of the easiest plants from which to collect seeds for next year, too! Avoid fertilizing these beauties: they’ll create more leaves at the expense of the flowers.
When most think of yarrow, they think of the flower in the wild, with its tall, drooping stems, long, feathery leaves, pale flowers, and a delicious scent when crushed underfoot. However, yarrow has actually been bred to show multiple colors, including white, intense pink, orange, and yellow. There are also dwarf varieties for those who prefer rigid rows to the bowing heads of traditional yarrow.
Yarrow is very sturdy, and will grow in a variety of soils, from clay to sand. It is hardy in zones 3 – 9.
Asters are really a family of plants, but here we’re talking about the purplish aster with feathery petals: Aster amellus.
Asters are a great summer flower for those who live in a generally cooler clime: they like hot days, coupled with cooler evenings. Their wild splash of color and drooping stems are perfect for gardens with a more natural look.
Geraniums come in many varieties, and the savvy gardener will check to discover which are hardy in her zone. Though geraniums are annuals, ones closer to wild-type re-seed prodigiously and will appear with their blooms ranging from white to deepest red, year after year.
This is another flower that requires a bit of prep — planting in the spring, and digging up in the fall — but gives gorgeous blossoms in the summer. Gladioli range from tiny, wild-orchid-like blossoms to big, showy blooms, and many smell heavenly. They prefer zones 6 – 10.
The ‘surprise lily’ is so named because it provides pretty, vibrant leaves in spring, which then die off in the summer. And then — surprise! — big pink flowers blossom once the leaves are gone. This is a lily that is hardy in cooler climes.
Peonies are gorgeous pink flowers that will bloom in late spring in warmer climes, and early summer in cooler climes. Their large, ball-like flowers are delightful to look at, and anyone who has ever caught a whiff of their scent will never forget them. Hardy in zones 3 – 8.
Bonus: Mint Family Plants
The mint family includes mints (shocking, I know), sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and beebalm. The vast majority of mint family plants bloom in the summer.
You can go for decorative versions of these plants, which invariably have larger blossoms — but why not go for the culinary varieties? They provide an abundance of pretty, delicate flowers along with a world of uses, and are incredibly hardy: in some zones, you may want to plant them in an oversized pot in the ground, to prevent them from taking over!