It’s summertime, and the living is easy. This is the time of year when gardens really hit their stride. The bright sunshine and long warm days result in an almost overnight explosion of vigorous growth and brilliant color. Warm-season annuals, from angelonia to zinnias, come into their own, while a seemingly endless parade of perennials and flowering shrubs ride a wave of continuous bloom. Even summer-blooming bulbs get into the act, with lilies and dahlias at their peak.

This bountiful buffet of flowers can be overwhelming to choose from. With so many options, there’s no right or wrong. Pick those that speak to your heart and give you the most joy. Here are some tried-and-true varieties, with a few unusual surprises sprinkled in.

Summer Flowers A-Z

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Angelonia Angelface® Steel BlueBuy now from Proven Winners
Angelonia hybrid

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in most regions

Height/Spread:

Upright spreading habit, 18 to 30 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

During the heat of summer when many other annuals take a break, this snapdragon look-alike keeps right on blooming. Angelonia can be massed as a bedding plant, used as pathway edging, or planted in a container with other annuals. Combine Angelface® Steel Blue with ‘Marguerite’ sweet potato vine and Superbells® Grape Punch calibrachoa for a “filler, spiller, thriller” effect.

Other Angelonias to Try:

Angelface® Wedgwood Blue, Angelface® Cascade Pink, AngelMist® Spreading Berry Sparkler, Serena® Purple.

Find out more on how to grow and care for angelonia plants.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

BLACK-EYED SUSAN ‘GOLDSTURM’Buy now from Proven Winners
Rudbeckia fulgida

Zones:

3-10

Height/Spread:

Upright spreading habit, 2-3 feet tall and 1 1/2-2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

This classic summer perennial is an indispensable addition to any landscape. Exceptionally hardy, this long-lived prairie native grows in most zones. ‘Goldsturm’ is an improvement over the straight species, with a more compact habit and larger flowers. Combine with other mid-to-late summer bloomers such as sea holly (Eryngium), bee balm, ‘Karl Foerster’ feather grass, and ‘Autumn Fire’ sedum.

Other Black-Eyed Susans to Try:

‘Henry Eilers’ (R. subtomentosa), ‘Prairie Glow’ (R. triloba), ‘Chim Chiminee’ (R. hirta), ‘Cherry Brandy’ (R. hirta).

Find out more on how to grow and care for black-eyed Susan.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

CANNA LILY TOUCAN® CORALBuy now from Proven Winners
Canna generalis

Zones:

8-11

Height/Spread:

Upright habit, 2-1/2 to 4 feet tall and 1-1/2 to 2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

A flamboyant star of the summer garden, canna lily adds dramatic flair to the landscape with its showy tropical-looking foliage and colorful flowers. The leaves, which are similar to banana, can be green, colored, striped, or patterned, adding an exotic look to borders and containers. Combine this coral-flowered variety with ‘Sweetheart Purple’ sweet potato vine, ‘Wizard Coral Sunrise’ coleus or ‘Crystal Blue’ salvia.

Other Cannas to Try:

‘Tropicanna’, ‘Pretoria’ (syn. ‘Bengal Tiger’), ‘Cleopatra’, ‘Australia’

Photo by: Proven Winners.

CONEFLOWER POW WOW WILD BERRYBuy now from Proven Winners
Echinacea purpurea

Zones:

4-9

Height/Spread:

Upright branching habit, 16 to 20 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

This North American prairie native has been hybridized in a wide range of colors and forms. Valued for its toughness, reliability, and carefree nature, coneflower supports beneficial insects and other pollinators. Naturalize in a meadow garden, plant in containers or mass in a mixed border. Plant alongside other mid to late summer bloomers such as Russian sage, agastache, bee balm and yarrow.

Other Coneflowers to Try:

‘Magnus’, ‘Ferris Wheel’, ‘Green Envy’, ‘Marmalade’.

Find out more on how to grow and care for coneflowers.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

COSMOS ‘SEA SHELLS’
Cosmos bipinnatus

Zones:

Grown as an annual in all zones

Height/Spread:

Upright open habit, 3-5 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Even beginning gardeners will have success with this easy-care annual. The cheerful daisy-like flowers of this quintessential cottage garden favorite bloom all summer long, attracting birds and pollinators to the garden. Scatter seeds in a natural meadow, kitchen plot, or mixed border. The fluted tubular petals of ‘Sea Shells’ add a novelty element to the landscape as well as summer bouquets.

Other Cosmos to Try:

‘Rubenza’, ‘Apricot Lemonade’, ‘Candy Stripe’, ‘Bright Lights’.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

DAHLIA ‘LAUREN MICHELE’
Dahlia

Zones:

8-11

Height/Spread:

Upright bushy habit, 4 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

This mid-to-late season bloomer is a summertime favorite, with hundreds of varieties in every color and form imaginable. Grown from tubers or seeds, the flowers are exceptionally long-lasting, making them one of the best for summer bouquets. Plant in containers, borders or mass in the landscape. Tubers can be dug and stored indoors for replanting the following year. ‘Lauren Michele’ is a waterlily form with lavender petals that have an unusual deep purple reverse.

Other Dahlias to Try:

Dalina® Grande Tequila, ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, ‘Cafe Au Lait’, ‘Veritable’.

Find out more about growing dahlias.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

FLOWERING TOBACCO
Nicotiana langsdorffii

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in most regions

Height/Spread:

Upright open habit, 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

For quick color in containers and cottage-style borders, flowering tobacco is one of the easiest summer-blooming annuals to grow, either from seed or starts. The bell or trumpet-shaped flowers, which are sometimes fragrant, are especially attractive to hummingbirds. Smaller types can be massed as a bedding plant, while tall stately forms can be used as filler in a meadow garden or mixed border. Nicotiana langsdorffii has unusual pale green flowers.

Other Flowering Tobacco Varieties to Try:

‘Lime Green’, Nicotiana sylvestris, ‘Perfume Deep Purple’, ‘Saratoga Mix’.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

FUCHSIA ’SWINGTIME'
Fuchsia hybrid

Zones:

9-11

Height/Spread:

Trailing habit, 4 to 12 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Part sun to shade

A Mother’s Day favorite, the delicate dangling flowers of fuchsia come in a wide array of colors, sizes and forms, with many varieties hardy in temperate zones. Trailing forms go well in hanging baskets, window boxes and containers, while upright types can be planted in a bed or mixed border. ‘Swingtime’, an elegant bicolor with ruffled petals, is one of the most popular for hanging baskets.

Other Fuchsia Varieties to Try:

‘Autumnale’, ‘Aurea’ (F. magellanica), ‘David’, ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’.

Learn more about how to grow and care for fuchsias.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

HYDRANGEA INCREDIBALL® SMOOTH HYDRANGEABuy now from Proven Winners
Hydrangea arborescens

Zones:

3-8

Height/Spread:

Upright bushy habit, 4 to 5 feet tall and wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Few summer bloomers are more beloved than old-fashioned hydrangeas. These sturdy shrubs come in a wide range of colors and sizes, from dwarf varieties suitable to small spaces and containers to stately tree forms that make a stunning statement in the landscape. Plant as a stand-alone focal point, in a mixed border, as hedging, or mass along a slope for erosion control. Flowers are exceptional in cut bouquets and dried arrangements.

Other Hydrangea Varieties to Try:

‘Limelight’ (peegee hydrangea, H. paniculata), ‘Snow Queen’ (oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia), ‘Bluebird’ (lacecap hydrangea, (H. serrata), ‘Nikko Blue’ (mophead hydrangea, H. macrophylla).

Read more on growing hydrangeas.

Photo courtesy: Ball Horticultural Company.

LAVENDER ‘HIDCOTE’, ENGLISH LAVENDER
Lavandula angustifolia

Zones:

5-9

Height/Spread:

Upright open habit, 2 to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

This popular herb is grown for its soothing fragrance. The flowers and foliage are used in cooking, aromatherapy and many products such as soaps and essential oils. Plant along a pathway, as hedging, massed along a slope, or in a mixed border. The compact size of ‘Hidcote’ makes it a good choice for containers and small spaces.

Other Lavenders to Try:

‘Phenomenal’ Lavandin (L. x intermedia), Sweet Romance® English lavender (L. angustifolia), ‘Otto Quast’ Spanish lavender (L. stoechas), ‘Rosea’ English lavender (L. angustifolia).

Find out more on how to grow and care for lavender.

Photo courtesy: Ball Horticultural Company.

NEW GUINEA IMPATIENS COLORPOWER™ PEACH FROST
Impatiens hawkeri

Zones:

10-12, grown as an annual in most zones

Height/Spread:

Compact bushy habit, 8 to 10 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide

Exposure:

Partial sun to shade

Traditional bedding impatiens have been upstaged in recent years by New Guinea and SunPatiens® varieties in response to a growing problem with downy mildew. This compact shade-tolerant annual can be grown in containers, borders or massed in the landscape, making it perfect for apartment balconies, patios and small spaces. ColorPower™ Peach Frost is an eye-catching bicolor with large flowers and a long bloom time.

Other Impatiens to Try:

Rockapulco® Wisteria Double (I. walleriana), SunPatiens® Compact Tropical Rose (I. x hybrida), Sun Harmony® New Guinea Impatiens (I. hawkeri), ‘Sonic Salmon’ New Guinea Impatiens (I. hawkeri).

Find out more on how to grow and care for impatiens.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

QUEEN OF THE PRAIRIE ‘VENUSTA’
Filipendula rubra

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

Upright spreading habit, 4 to 8 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

This North American prairie native produces ethereal foamy flower plumes in early to mid-summer, adding height and drama to mixed borders and naturalized landscapes. The graceful plant is attractive on its own, with an elegant habit and deeply lobed leaves. ‘Venusta’ is one of the tallest, with upward-facing finger-like leaves and red stems. Combine with sea holly, catmint, liatris, and ornamental grasses.

Other Queen of the Prairies to Try:

‘Aurea’ (F. ulmeria), ‘Flora Plena’ (F. vulgaris), ‘Variegata’ (F. ulmaria), dropwort (F. vulgaris).

Photo by: Proven Winners.

ROSE MALLOW SUMMERIFIC® ‘HOLY GRAIL’Buy now from Proven Winners
Hibiscus hybrid

Zones:

4-9

Height/Spread:

Upright bushy habit, 4 to 4-1/2 feet tall and 4-1/2 to 5 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Add tropical flair to your landscape with the oversized blooms of hibiscus. This versatile annual or perennial can be massed in the landscape or planted in a mixed border or container. Summerific® ‘Holy Grail’ is a hardy perennial shrub with rich scarlet blooms and dark purple foliage, making it a good choice as a dramatic stand-alone accent or focal point.

Other Hibiscus to Try:

‘The Path’ tropical hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis), Rose Satin® rose of Sharon (H. syriacus), cranberry hibiscus (H. acetosella), ‘Disco Belle White’ rose mallow (H. moscheutos).

Find out more on how to grow and care for hibiscus.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

SEA HOLLY ‘MISS WILLMOTT'S GHOST’
Eryngium giganteum

Zones:

4-9

Height/Spread:

Upright open habit, 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Sea holly adds an element of surprise and drama to the landscape, with blue cone-shaped flowers surrounded by spiny bracts in shades of white, silver, green or blue. This short-lived perennial or biennial is especially attractive to bees and other insect pollinators. Combine with coneflower, tickseed, or drumstick alliums. ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’ has large pale blue flowers with silver-grey bracts.

Other Sea Hollies to Try:

‘Big Blue’ (E. x zabelii), ‘Jade Frost’ (E. planum), ‘Blue Hobbit’ (E. planum), rattlesnake master (E. yuccifolium).

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

SNEEZEWEED ‘MARDI GRAS’
Helenium

Zones:

4-8

Height/Spread:

Upright bushy habit, 3 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Cheerful daisy-like flowers light up the garden from mid to late summer in colors of red, orange and yellow. This native perennial is tough and reliable, perfect for woodlands, meadows, mixed borders and natural gardens. Combine with black-eyed Susan, Joe pye weed, Russian sage and ornamental grasses. ‘Mardi Gras’ has variable blooms in solid or brushstroke colors of burnt orange and yellow.

Other Sneezeweeds to Try:

‘Dancing Flames’, ‘Ruby Charm’, ‘Moerheim Beauty’, ‘Butterpat’.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

SUNFLOWER ‘AUTUMN BEAUTY’
Helianthus annuus

Zones:

Grown as an annual in all zones

Height/Spread:

Upright habit, 5 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 1-1/2 feet wide.

Exposure:

Full sun

Nothing says summer like a bucolic field of statuesque sunflowers. Though annual forms are most commonly grown, there are perennial types as well. There are even dwarf forms suited to small urban spaces and containers. Grow in a cottage-style border, kitchen garden, or other sunny site in the yard. Birds and bees will love them, too.

Other Sunflowers to Try:

‘Chocolate Cherry’, ‘Italian White’, ‘Lemon Queen’, ‘Little Becka’.

Find out more about growing sunflowers.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

SUPERTUNIA® BORDEAUX™ PETUNIABuy now from Proven Winners
Petunia hybrid

Zones:

9-11, grown as an annual in most zones

Height/Spread:

Mounding spreading habit, 6 to 10 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

With regular feeding and warmer temperatures, petunias will reward with a riot of color all summer long. Use as bedding plants, in containers, window boxes or hanging baskets. There are a dizzying array of colors and patterns to choose from to go with any garden style. Combine with other annuals with similar needs such as verbena, lobelia, sweet potato vine, or pelargonium.

Other Petunias to Try:

‘Phantom’, ‘Priscilla’, Tidal Wave® Red Velour, Supertunia® Pretty Much Picasso.

Find out more on how to grow and care for petunias.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

TICKSEED ‘JETHRO TULL’Buy now from Proven Winners
Coreopsis hybrid

Zones:

4-9

Height/Spread:

Compact mounding habit, 12 to 18 inches tall and wide

Exposure:

Full sun

The cheerful flowers of tickseed are sure to brighten up any landscape. This reliable perennial or annual is virtually maintenance-free and drought-tolerant, with many varieties native to North American prairies and woodlands. This long bloomer provides an important source of food for insect pollinators and birds. Use as edging along a pathway, mass along a slope, naturalize with other natives, plant in a mixed border or container.

Other Tickseeds to Try:

‘Moonbeam’ (C. verticillata), plains coreopsis (C. tinctoria), pink coreopsis (C. rosea), ‘Limerock Dream’.

Photo by: Janet Loughrey.

TIGER FLOWER
Tigridia pavonia

Zones:

8-10

Height/Spread:

Upright habit, 1 to 2 feet tall and 5 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

For an exotic look that is sure to garner attention, this underutilized South African bulb will lend a unique touch to a border or container. Also called Mexican shell flower, the showy blooms are brightly colored with a speckled center. Treat this easy-to-grow bulb as an annual in cooler zones or dig the bulbs and store indoors over the winter to replant the following year.

Other Tiger Flowers to Try:

Usually sold as a mix in colors of red, white, peach, pink and yellow, but sometimes found in single colors.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

ZINNIA MAGELLAN™ SCARLET
Zinnia elegans

Zones:

10-12, grown as an annual in most zones

Height/Spread:

Upright branching habit, 12 to 18 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Zinnia is one of the most beloved summer annuals, with long-lasting flowers that are exceptional in cut bouquets. Their use in the landscape is versatile, from groundcover types such as ‘Profusion’ that can be massed as bedding plants, to stately ‘Benary’s Giant’ for cottage-style borders and cutting gardens. This medium-sized red variety adds a cheerful burst of bright color as pathway edging or massed along a slope.

Other Zinnia Varieties to Try:

‘Queen Red Lime’, ‘Zinderella Peach’, ‘Persian Carpet’, ‘Envy’.

Find out more on growing zinnias.

RELATED:
20 Amazing Annuals for Sun
Stunning Summer Container Combinations
21 Easiest Flowers for Beginners

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