20 of The Best Summer Flowers to Transform Your Yard & Home
Andrew Dehan13-Minute Read
August 16, 2021
There’s nothing that says “summer” like a colorful flower garden. Flowers make your home more attractive. They smell nice and brighten up the scenery. Butterflies and bumblebees love flowers, and these pollinators are necessary for three-quarters of the world’s food crops. If you’re also growing tomatoes or cucumbers, attracting more pollinators will mean you have more veggies to harvest.
Flowers don’t just attract butterflies and bees. They add curb appeal to your home, making it stand out from your neighbor’s. Most flowers thrive in the sunlight, but some do well in shade. Some flowers are perennials and others are annuals. But where do you start?
All plants in the U.S. are listed with a hardiness number through the USDA. Look up your plant hardiness zone to find what climate zone you live in. Some plants aren’t cold-tolerant or heat-tolerant, so only plant flowers that will have a chance of thriving.
Keep reading to find the flowers that will work for your home.
10 Perennial Flowers That Bloom All Summer Long
Perennial flowers survive the winter and bloom year after year. Think of perennials as more permanent fixtures in your flower garden, growing larger and stronger with proper care. They’re relatively low-maintenance, especially once they’re established in your garden. You can rely on them returning each year to beautify your home.
Here are 10 dependable perennial flowers that bloom all summer long.
Coneflowers – also known by their genus name, Echinacea – is a group of flowers of 10 different species, native to eastern and central North America and part of the sunflower family. They have large, colorful flowers blooming from June – October. They grow 2 – 5 feet tall, depending on variety, sunlight exposure and climate. Their colors range, with purple coneflowers being the most common, but they’re found also in white, gold, red and orange. Coneflowers can be bought at your local nursery or you can easily grow them from seed.
Thread Leaf Coreopsis
Known by its binomial name, Coreopsis verticillata, thread leaf coreopsis is a beautiful flower that’s part of the sunflower family. Also known as whorled tickseed, thread leaf coreopsis grows primarily in the east-central United States, from Maryland to Georgia. It’s deer-resistant and can tolerate drought, heat and neglect, making it the perfect flower for beginners. It’s a fan of sandy, dry soil. Most common cultivars produce a bright yellow flower, but there are pink and red variants. Thread leaf coreopsis grows 2 – 3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide, depending on variety. The plant grows laterally underground, so over time it will fill out more space unless it’s trimmed back.
Black-eyed Susan is another member of the sunflower family, native to North America. It’s an iconic flower with a black “eye” in the center, usually surrounded by bright yellow petals. Some varieties exhibit multicolor petals that fade from a dark orange or red center out to bright yellow or pink tips. They grow well in open, sunny areas reaching heights of over 3 feet. They’re easy to grow and require little maintenance, though they can overtake other nearby plants. Expect blooms from black-eyed Susans from June until the chilly fall weather rolls in.
Daylilies are a versatile summer flower for your garden. They grow extremely well in a variety of climates and produce beautiful, showy flowers. Daylilies are often referred to as “the perfect perennial” because of how they will grow nearly anywhere. Full sun, partial shade, sandy soil or clay – daylilies will adapt to wherever you plant them. Most varieties only bloom 1 – 5 weeks out of the year, but when they do, prepare to be wowed. These perennials can produce flowers up to 8 inches wide, in vibrant hues of orange, yellow, red and pink, depending on the cultivar. The flowers last about a day, hence the name “daylily,” but they’re quickly replaced with another.
These herbaceous perennial flowers make the perfect addition to a rock garden or planted near a retaining wall. Originating in the Dalmatian mountains of Croatia, the Dalmatian bellflower is a flowering groundcover that enjoys full sun to partial shade. It produces small, bluish-purple flowers that completely cover the plant in mid to late summer. Dalmatian bellflower thrives in rocky areas where it can cascade over walls or fill in crevices between rocks.
Fringed Bleeding Heart
Native to the Appalachian Mountains, fringed bleeding heart is a unique perennial with pink heart-shaped flowers. It’s a perfect summer flower for shaded or partially shaded gardens. This unique perennial shows its flowers off in spring to early summer but may continue to bloom through to the fall if the conditions are right. It loves moist, well-draining soil that’s rich in organic material, so compost is a must.
Geraniums belong to a huge genus that encompasses hundreds of species. They range from wide bushes to plants a few feet tall, with flowers in blues, reds, pinks and whites. The most classic is the zonal geranium, which is a great perennial in warmer climates. In areas with colder winters, zonal geraniums can be planted as annuals or you can plant hardy geraniums that, while they look different, still produce beautiful summer flowers.
Perennial vincas are low-growing groundcover that flowers in the springtime. They thrive in shaded and partially shaded areas, flashing their white, purple or blue pinwheel flowers. There are two main types: Vinca minor and Vinca major. Vinca minor is the shorter, cold hardy version. Vinca major is only a perennial in zones 7 – 9. They spread quickly, with their stems rooting wherever they touch the ground. Because they spread quickly, some varieties are considered invasive in areas where it overtakes native plants. Before planting, research whether it’s considered invasive in your area.
Mandevilla, also known as rocktrumpet, is a flowering vine native to the Southwestern U.S., Mexico, Central and South America. These fragrant flowers love warm climates and sun. It cannot tolerate frost but comes back as a perennial flower in warmer climates. It produces trumpet-shaped blooms in red, pink and white that bloom from spring until weather cools. You can train it to climb arbors and fences or plant it to spill out of a container box.
Beardtongues belong to the genus Penstemon, which is the largest genus of flowering plants indigenous to North America. They are widespread, found in deserts, damp forests and mountaintops. Their tubular flowers vary in shape, with many exhibiting the “bearded tongue” of a pollenless stamen that sticks out from the flower. Most grow 1 – 3 feet tall, blooming in early summer. You can sow them from seed directly in autumn and they will sprout the following spring. Flower color, shape and size vary greatly depending on the variety of beardtongue, but common colors are vibrant purple and burgundy.
How To Care For Perennial Summer Flowers
Most perennials are low-maintenance, and some are almost no-maintenance. Depending on your climate zone, a little care can go a long way. Each plant has common needs. They need to be planted in the right soil, have the right light and the right amount of water. Take care of your perennials and they will reward you with years of summer flowers.
Once you have your perennials picked out, it’s time to put them in the ground. Make sure you have plenty of mulch and compost on hand – perennials need organic matter to thrive. Lay out your plants in their containers to get an idea of where you want to place them. Dig a hole the size recommended for your plant, place the plant in and fill in the hole with organic matter. Water thoroughly.
If you’re planting seeds, make sure you’re planting in the right season. Some seeds must be sown in the fall because they require an over-wintering period. Other sides are perfect for spring. Follow the instructions on the seed packet to ensure proper planting depth and how far apart to plant the seeds. Break up the ground in which you’re planting the seeds, plant them at the right depth, and cover them with compost. Once you’re done, water them thoroughly.
When grown to the right size, some perennials, like daylilies, benefit from being separated. Carefully dig up the roots of some of the outer stalks in the springtime and separate them from the plant. These can be replanted elsewhere in your garden or given to friends and neighbors.
Feeding & Watering Perennials
Each perennial plant has its own needs when it comes to fertilizer and watering. Some perennials, like coneflowers and coreopsis, require little care, while others may need a little more handholding. Generally, it’s important to keep all young perennials well-watered until they become established. For most perennial flowers, this means keeping them in moist soil during their first year.
As for fertilizer, mulch and compost go a long way to keep your perennials in organic materials. Specific fertilizer products can help certain perennials bloom longer, but keep in mind that not all fertilizers work for all plants.
Perennial Winter Care
If your perennials are planted in the right hardiness zone, you should not have to worry about winter care. If you live in an area with potential for late frost, keep an eye out for your perennials. If they’re close to blooming when a late frost occurs, it could damage them. Covering them with a blanket or tarp when the temps swing below freezing will help insulate them. Otherwise, applying a fresh layer of mulch in the fall and more in the spring will keep your perennials in good shape.
10 Annual Flowers That Bloom All Summer Long
Unlike perennials, annuals must be planted every year, or annually, hence the name. Planting annuals takes more effort and they often require more maintenance, but their flowers are a great way to change up the look of your garden. Many gardens function best with perennials as the anchors and annual flowers as changing features.
The petunia produces a vibrant, trumpet-shaped flower. Petunias thrive in hot conditions, loving full sun and low humidity. They grow well in containers and as border plants and will bloom throughout the summer with the right care taken. Transplant them in spring or grow them from seed. These annual flowers come in shades of yellow, gold, pink, red, white and purple, with many of them having multicolor effects.
Marigolds are one of the easiest annuals to plant and grow. Their flowers showcase bronze, gold and crimson colors. Marigolds start blooming in the spring and last well into the fall. They’re best transplanted in early spring. Plant them in full sun and they will endure hot summers. They work well as companion plants, repelling pests from your flower or vegetable garden.
Another easy annual to grow is the zinnia. They are quick to bloom and fill out, adding bright colors to your garden. Butterflies love them and once you see their big, round flowers in your garden, you’ll love them too. Zinnias flower in a large variety of colors, from violets to golds. They do best when grown from seed directly in the garden after frost. To ensure blooms all summer long, sow the seeds every week to stagger flowering. They love full sun and warm temperatures. They grow best in soil amended with compost.
If you want striking, colorful flowers, plant dahlias. Dahlias grow from tubers planted in early spring and bloom from July well into the fall. Typically reaching heights between 3 – 5 feet tall, dahlias produce flowers from 2 inches wide to well past 12 inches wide. Their flowers display shades of pink, red and yellow depending on the variety. They thrive in warm, well-draining soil and grow in full sun.
Sunflowers are such an iconic, classic annual flower. Dwarf varieties are around 2 – 3 feet tall, where some “skyscraper” varieties grow past 16 feet in height. In fact, the world’s tallest sunflower ever recorded was grown over 30 feet tall. Depending on the variety, you may have a sunflower that produces one large disc-like flower, or several smaller flowers. Colors range from the classic yellow to red and red-brown varieties. As the name implies, they love the sun and need to be grown in full sun. In fact, they are heliotropic, which means the flower head follows the sun across the sky throughout the day.
Sweet alyssum, or sweet alison, is a low-growing flower known for its wonderful fragrance. While still considered an annual, if your flowers seed, they may “volunteer” and show up again the following year. Flowering from June – October, sweet alyssum blooms in pink, white, purple and yellow. Sweet alyssum makes a great accent plant, so planting among other annuals and perennials will help fill in your garden. It thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade if it drains well.
While perennials in the tropics, begonias are planted as annuals in most of the U.S. as they do not tolerate mildly cool climates. With vivid and lush flowers of red, pink, white and yellow, it’s easy to why begonias are popular. They’re a part of genus with more than 1,800 different plant species, so there is a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They’re native to hot and humid climates, where moist soil and full sun are prevalent. With sunlight and moist soil, begonias are easy to grow and a rewarding annual for your garden.
Celosia, also known as cockscomb, is unique flower that’s part of the amaranth family. The name celosia means “burning” in Ancient Greek and refers to the flame shape of the flower. They’re prolific bloomers, showing off their fiery colors in sunny and dry areas. They will tolerate partial shade, but really come into their own in the sunlight. If allowed to seed, they will reseed and replenish themselves the following season.
Chrysanthemums, or mums, are a popular flower to plant when the summer’s winding down and the weather is cooling. Their flowers come in a wide variety of colors ranging from striking yellows to velvety purples – even lime green. They’re smaller flowers, around an inch in diameter, exploding in bright bunches. If you have moderate winters, mums can be treated as perennials provided you plant a species native to your area. Search for hardy chrysanthemums to find more information on how you can get these flowers bursting with color every year.
Larkspurs are the annual version of their perennial cousins, delphiniums. They’re hardy and quick to self-sow, meaning they may pop up again the following season. They can grow to be 3 feet tall, with pink, blue and white flowers arranged in a cone shape around the stalk. Larkspurs do best in full sun and slightly moist soil. In the hottest summer months, they’re prone to wilting, but you can cut off the spent flowers, encouraging them to regrow once the weather cools.
How To Care For Annual Summer Flowers
Annuals require the same things as perennials, but usually in greater quantities. The whole lifespan of true annuals is focused on using all its resources to flower, then seed so it has a chance of coming back the following year. Where perennials live on year after year, each annual flower is that plant’s chance of reproducing. They typically need more minerals and moisture than perennials and are more susceptible to temperature swings.
If you’re planting your annuals from seed, make sure you’re planting the seeds in the right season. Some seeds need a cold wintering period in order to germinate in the spring, where others are susceptible to cold and need to be planted in warm soil. Consult the seed packet’s instructions before you plant.
If you’re transplanting seedlings, water the bed your planting them in, then water your seedlings a few hours before transplanting. When removing from containers, pinch the bottom of the container and loosen the roots apart. Dig holes slightly larger than root ball and space them out as needed for your plant. Place the annual in the hole and fill it in with loose dirt and compost. Once in the ground, give your annuals another round of water.
Feeding And Watering Annuals
Most annuals do best when the ground is moist. This means daily watering is essential and on the hottest days, watering in the morning and the evening is best. On hot days, don’t water your annuals in the hot sun. It will cause the sun to heat the water and practically cook your plants. Annuals generally do well with a slow-release organic fertilizer, as well as fresh mulch coverage. If you notice a lot of foliage growth, but no flowers, it’s likely a sign of too much fertilizer.
If you want to increase the amount of blooms you get from your annuals, cut off their flowers when they die. This is called deadheading. Trim the flower off, then trim down the stalk to the first set of leaves. Deadheading like this encourages the plant to grow another flower and prevents the plant from going to seed. If you want the plant to self-seed and come back next year, don’t deadhead.
The Bottom Line
If you plant perennials or annuals or both, your efforts will make your home more attractive. Know that each plant has its own set of needs. Take care of their needs with proper soil, sunlight and water. Remember that perennials have deeper root systems than annuals and will come back to grace your garden year after year. Keep them trimmed and you’ll enjoy them for years to come. Surrounding perennials with annuals is a great way to accent your garden differently every year. Annuals are usually more tender, so make sure you plant them right and keep them fed and watered.
To see and smell summer flowers around your garden is incredibly rewarding. Your neighbors may shout “nice flowers!” when passing by and you can beam with pride. Yes, they are nice flowers.
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