The Best Plants for Your Summer Garden
Test your green thumb with these.
Warmer months mean more time spent outdoors, with backyard parties and dinners alfresco—so why not create a garden that will impress any visitors? Whether you’re an advanced gardener or like to say you have a “black” thumb instead of a green one, there are plants that thrive in the summer months that will refresh your outdoor space. Danny Watson, The Home Depot garden center associate, shared his six favorite plants to grow in the summer months and how to care for them. Since summer can be a busy season with plenty of weekend activities, day trips, and longer vacations, you don’t have to worry about tending to these every day. They’re all fairly low maintenance and most don’t require frequent waterings (perfect if you live in an especially dry area). Some can even last past the summer months, too. Take a look at Watson’s picks below and try incorporating these in your outdoor space this summer.
“Salvias are perfect for a summer garden, because they are easy to maintain, attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and deer rarely eat them,” Watson says. “These long-flowering plants will add a great pop of color to a garden all summer long.” These are perennial plants that will last past the summer months.
How to plant: Before planting them, mix a flower fertilizer into beds and water the soil. Plant them in mostly sunny areas of a garden.
Care tips: They bloom on upright spikes, so when the blooms die out, remove the spikes to make way for new ones.
Watering tips: Good news if you’re going on vacation this summer: Salvias have a high tolerance for dry conditions and can go without waterings for a few days. Watson suggests giving them one inch of water every seven to 10 days—this could also include rainfall, so be sure not to overwater as it can cause the roots to rot.
“Yarrow is one of the easiest plants to maintain, brings color to any garden, and looks great inside the house,” he says. “It is also a pollinator and will bring beneficial bugs to your garden.” These will bloom throughout the summer and can continue to do so past the season if you prune and deadhead them regularly.
How to plant: Place them in full sunlight. Space them 12 to 24 inches apart to allow room for growth.
Care tips: They require very little care.
Watering tips: If it rains about three to four inches a month where you live, you won’t need to water. If you live in a drier area, you’ll want to water them lightly (until the soil is damp several inches deep) once a week.
“Coneflower comes in a variety of colors and adds height to a garden with the plant’s tall stems,” Watson says. “They are perfect for adding another dimension to shorter flowerbeds.” They’ll continue to bloom into the fall if you prune them.
How to plant: Place them in an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight. They’re resilient and thrive in lean soil, which is sometimes referred to as poor soil since it’s not full of nutrients and organic matter.
Care tips: If the flowers seem small or are not growing properly, you can fertilize them sparingly. Otherwise, they require very little maintenance.
Watering tips: If there is regular summer rainfall, you won’t need to water them. If there’s not, follow the same watering tips as the yarrow plant.
“Sedum is a type of succulent that grows in a large group, perfect for filling in gaps between stones or rocks in outdoor spaces,” he says. These plants can last until the fall or winter—and some of these varieties have leaves that turn red or purple in the winter.
How to plant: Plant them in dry soil to prevent rotting. It’s perfect for rock gardens or areas with sandy soil.
Care tips: They thrive in partial sunlight and require little to no fertilizer.
Watering tips: They are somewhat drought resistant, but still need to be watered once a week. Water the soil beneath the plant until the ground is damp four inches deep. Let the soil dry out completely before you water next.
- “Ornamental grasses are extremely versatile and look great in any garden,” Watson says. “They are perfect for filling in large spaces, providing a backdrop for other flowers, adding movement or creating contrast.” They will turn brown at the end of the summer, but can be left in the garden through fall and winter.
- How to plant: Before planting, mix a balanced fertilizer into the soil. Place them in areas with full sunlight. They grow quickly and widely, so keep that in mind when planting near other plants.
- Care tips: If needed, cut back dead portions of the plant.
- Watering tips: After first planting, water them until the soil is damp once or twice a week. Once the plant is healthy and established, decrease the watering to once a week.
“Flowering purslane are part of the succulent family, so they thrive in high temperatures and bloom all summer long,” he says.
How to plant: Plant them in full sun and well-drained soil. If you’re growing in a container, use a commercial potting soil mix and feed with a little slow-release granular fertilizer at planting time (it’s not needed afterwards).
Care tips: They require very little maintenance.
Watering tips: Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch, but don’t overdo it. The plant thrives in dry conditions.