Hi there, friends! Thanks for dropping by Harmony Hills! Our topic for today is Late Summer Perennials. As I was walking the dogs this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that our perennials around our yard are starting to wane, and there’s not much summer color going on. By comparison, many of our neighbors have riotous color happening in their yards with several perennials just now coming into peak bloom. That got me wondering, what kinds of plants should I add to our gardens so that the late summer color is just a pleasing as the spring and early summer? Using our neighbors’ gardens as a inspiration, here are just a few of the best perennials for late summer color in my area.
Now, I live in Baltimore, MD, which is in the Mid-Atlantic area of the US, in USDA Zone 7b. So the plants I list here are ideal for my neck of the woods. But you’ll want to check the plant information to see if these will work for you.
Let’s start with the state flower of Maryland – the Black Eyed Susan. Many black-centered yellow daisy-shaped flowers have this same common name, but the best, most frequently used plant that thrives in our area is Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’. Unbeatable for non-stop bright gold color in the late summer garden.
There are so many varieties and colors of Phlox out there, it’s hard to pick just one. Careful – these are deer candy!
There are a lot of different types of sage (salvia) too, but Russian Sage gets my vote for dependable bloom lasting into late summer.
OK, so the common refrain seems to be “there are a lot of varieties to choose from”, and that goes for Purple Coneflowers too. There are purple, pink, white, peach choices, plus double flowering and other unique forms. If you want to plant for pollinators, do a little googling first to see which varieties are best, since not all of the latest introductions make for good nectar plants.
Dahlias in my area are a little fussy, because the tubers have to be dug up in the fall to prevent rot over the cold winter. But if you’re willing to do that chore, then dahlias are a sure-bet for strong late summer color through to the first frost.
Hyssop is an old fashioned looking plant, and it’s somewhat tall and gangly on its own, but mixed in with other, shorter, more fully leaved perennials, this plant gives a wonderful purple color to the mixed border and the bees absolutely love it!
Bee balm – ah yes, maybe the ultimate plant for attracting bees – I mean, it’s in its name, isn’t it? Not only do the bees love it, but butterflies and hummingbirds too. This plant is in the mint family, so keep an eye on it if you’ve got limited space, because it likes to spread. Sometimes susceptible to powdery mildew, but worth it for the blooms.
One of my very favorite plants in the garden, the perennial Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’. I love, love love this plant! The purple color is incredibly vibrant, and once established, these plants spread out to make a mound of purple color that kicks off in May and doesn’t end until the first frost. Deadheading keeps things going. Deer don’t touch it, and butterflies love it. Wonderful for the front of a border.
Coreopsis, or tickseed, is a bright cheery plant which also offers many varieties. I like ‘Zagreb’ for its clear bright yellow flowers, but have also grown ‘Moonbeam’ with success, which is a softer, more buttery yellow color. Deer resistant – yay!
I haven’t had great luck with lavender in the past, I think I’ve given it too much love and care. Over-watering and over-fertilizing is not good for this Mediterranean native. But, I have several hot, dry sites in my yard now, and so maybe now is the time to try this beautiful plant family again.
The sedum family has a HUGE variety of forms and shapes to choose from, but the one I’m sharing here is ‘Autumn Joy’. These blooms are not quite coming into their peak yet, maybe another two or three weeks we’ll start to see them. But I include them here anyway, because the plant form is striking in the garden and the buds in my neighbors’ gardens are starting to turn slight pink. So it counts as a late summer bloom, in my opinion. I have a few of these plants, but they’re not close to blooming because the deer ate the tops of the plants a couple weeks ago. Drat! Must move to a more sheltered location, because I love the plant and want it to flourish in my garden!
Perennials are great, but sometimes we also need a little form and structure in the garden, and that can come from shrubs. I wanted to highlight a couple types of late summer flowering shrubs in my list.
First, crape myrtle. These can come in tree form or in shrub form. They start to bloom around about July 15th or later in my neighborhood, and they will be strong bloomers for the rest of the summer. Here in Maryland we’re about on the northern edge of a crape myrtle’s happy zone… too far north and they don’t get the heat that they need and love.
Of course, there’s the quintessential hydrangea family for summer color. With a seeming endless list of options, there’s sure to be a flower color, shape, and form to please you.
That’s my roundup of the most common and arguably best perennials for late summer color in my neighborhood here in Baltimore. (I couldn’t stop myself at just 10!)
What have I missed? I’d love to hear from you — please drop into the comments section and tell me what are your must-have late summer perennials?
All images gently and gratefully borrowed from www.WhiteflowerFarm.com. I have no affiliation with this company, and am compensated in no way by them. I simply admire their work and frequently buy their products.