As life begins to awaken from the dormancy of winter, the spring season is one of the best times for us gardeners to begin planting our crops. Unfortunately, late-season frost, too much rain, or a lack of time can prevent you from getting those seeds in the ground. This doesn’t mean you have to leave your garden barren until next year though. Several plants thrive during the summer heat, and growing them can ensure you still have a decent crop in the fall. Let’s take a look at the best plants to grow in the summer.
Summer Growing Concerns
Many plants prefer the hotter months of the year but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues that can make this growing season difficult. There are several summer growing concerns that you need to consider before and during planting.
In many cases, these issues are the most prominent in younger, weaker plants. For this reason, it’s often best to wait until you have seedlings several weeks old before moving them outdoors, especially during the peak of the summer heat.
Plants need warmth to thrive but too much of it can cause long, lanky stems, wilted leaves, and even reduce fruit or vegetable production. It can be tricky to combat this issue with plants in your garden but giving them extra water in the mornings and evenings and planting them in shady areas can help reduce the damage.
Excessive heat can also cause certain plants like cilantro or lettuce to bolt, or go to seed. Once a plant has bolted, it rapidly loses its flavor and becomes inedible. Many plants will bolt more quickly when the temperature is too high.
Too Much Sun
Like excessive heat, too much direct sunlight can also cause plant issues such as pale or brown leaves. Before planting, be sure to consider how many hours of sunlight the plant requires and choose the best place for them based on that.
For instance, south-facing areas get the most amount of sun, so plants that only need a few hours of it or that prefer shady areas likely won’t survive here. Planting beneath trees or near shrubs can also provide some plants with shade, so consider these areas for those low-light plants.
Too Much Water
Too much water or poor drainage can soak your plants more than they need. The results can be rotting roots, wilted leaves, brown or yellow leaves, and slow growth. If you notice too much moisture in the soil, reduce how often and how much you’re watering your plants. Though you can’t stop those rainy days, you can fix the drainage to reduce and prevent large puddles from soaking the area.
You should also avoid overwatering to offset the heat. While watering can help prevent heat/sun damage, too much will end up causing a different set of problems. Instead, try misting your plants to keep them moist while avoiding overwatering.
Not Enough Water
If there is too little rain and your plants can become wilted with brown leaves and reduced growth. This is especially a problem during the hot summer months as the heat plus lack of water can be a dangerous combo. Watering in the morning or in the evening can ensure they are getting the moisture they need. Don’t water in the afternoon, though, since the water will evaporate too quickly while scorching your plants.
There’s no way to eliminate bugs in your garden but you can prevent them from doing too much damage. If you notice an abundance of aphids, slugs, or other annoying pests, certain products can get rid of them without hurting the plants in your garden. Many natural products, like neem oil, dish soap, egg shells, and Epsom salts are good options. You can also find insecticidal products for a more targeted approach.
The key thing with pests is to deal with them before they become a large issue. It’s always easier to get rid of a few than it is to deal with a true infestation. Check your plants daily, and deal with any pest issues you find as soon as possible to prevent larger issues in the future.
Best Summer Plants
There are a wide variety of summer plants to try out in your garden, including vegetables, flowers, and herbs. The following are some great options to consider, and include some of our favorites that we make sure to grow each and every summer.
Peppers are best started indoors and transplanted into your garden, though they can wait until the warmer months before you get them in the ground. There are several varieties to pick from, so you can go as sweet or spicy as you like. My personal favorite is habaneros for the powerful spice they pack in such a small pepper. Warm temperatures, well-draining soil, and lots of direct sunlight are best for these tasty veggies.
Corn can be a bit picky when it comes to growing conditions but if you do it right, you’ll have a fantastic crop in the late summer. Give the plants lots of space, plenty of water, and a great deal of sunlight for the best results. Regularly fertilizing is also a must for those plump, juicy kernels at harvest time.
There are several options to pick from in the summer squash category, including zucchini, crookneck, pattypan, and zephyr. All varieties like a soil temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit during sowing, as well as plenty of sun once they sprout and lots of water. Regular harvesting encourages new flowers and consistent fruit. If left unharvested, many of these vegetables will continue to grow, and this will prevent new flowers from forming.
These beautiful flowers grow tall, with several flowers that add a touch of color to any garden. They can go in at any point after the last frost to bloom during the heat of summer. They require full sun and consistent watering. Be sure to remove the dead flowers to encourage new growth. These flowers are also great bee attractors, which can help ensure the rest of your garden is properly pollentated.
Zinnias are inexpensive plants that come in a few different colors, plus they attract butterflies, which helps increase the pollination of all your plants. These pretty flowers love lots of sun and moist soil to ensure the healthiest plants. They can be planted anytime after the last frost date, and do better as the soil begins to heat up in early to mid summer.
Hibiscus loves temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s no wonder this is a favorite summer flower. There are over 200 varieties to pick from, so you can choose the types and colors that fit best in your garden. They like full sun but can tolerate partial shade, with well-draining but moist soil.
Basil comes in several varieties, including lemon, lime, Thai, and cinnamon basil. There are also varying colors, flavors, and leaf shapes to pick from, depending on what you’re looking for in your basil. Though sensitive to cold and frost, basil loves the heat it gets from full sun and regular moisture. While many herbs prefer more shady conditions, basil will do great with the full light and heat from summer sun.
Though dill is most known as a pickling ingredient, it also works well in buttery sauces or cream-based dips. This herb isn’t too picky about growing conditions, though it does prefer sunny areas and well-draining soil for the most abundant plant. Dill is very easy to grow, and is a perfect addition to any summer garden.
Rosemary is a great summertime herb that works well in soups, salads, sauces, as well as anything grilled. It is hard to start from seeds outdoors but transplants well when started indoors. This shrub loves lots of sun, fair humidity, and regular but limited moisture to avoid overwatering. Rosemary rarely needs fertilizer, though they like regular pruning to prevent lanky limbs.
Best Plants To Grow In Summer
Summer can be a difficult time to start new plants, but choosing the correct ones goes a long way. While some plants will get burned out by the intense sun, others will thrive in it. Hopefully the above has given you some great plants to choose from, and helped you keep gardening through the summer heat.
Summer Gardening FAQ
Can You Plant New Plants In The Summer?
Yes, summer is a great time to start a garden. A good tip is to start your plants indoors, then gradually transplant them outdoors. This can help your plants grow stronger before exposing them to the intense heat and light of the summer sun.
What Issues Do Plants Face In The Summer?
Heat and too intense of light can be issues depending on your plants. Many partial shade plants won’t fare well in the bright, hot light of summer. Be sure to pick plants that are well adapted to these conditions, or look to plant in shady locations to minimize the damage these factors can cause.
What Can I Do To Protect My Plants During Summer?
Shade and water go a long way to protecting your plants from the summer heat. Daily misting is a great way to keep your plants moist without risking overwatering them. In the morning, gently mist your garden to give them some protective moisture throughout the day. Also, when watering, do so in early morning or afternoon to limit moisture loss due to evaporation.