All of planting is dictated by the time until the first frost. Cold weather kills growth and causes plants go dormant; seedlings planted too close to the first frost won’t grow. (This is why indoor gardens are so appealing.) Similar rules apply to the hottest parts of the year — while I personally love basking in the sun until I’m cooked, not all plants are so amenable to high heat. But there are a select few plants that love the sun as much as us summer babies. If you got a late start on your garden, these are the plants you can trust will make it through the heat waves to come.
Edible plants that grow well in the summer
There are a few grey areas when it comes to timing when you plant. According to Mother Earth News, there are “cold crops” and “warm season crops.” Warm crops like tomatoes often only really begin to grow when the soil is hot, so you you don’t strictly need to plant them in the spring — you can start in December and enjoy beautiful, plump tomatoes throughout the summer. Other edible plants you can begin growing in early December, according to Mother Earth News, include:
- Beans (fresh and shelling)
- Cultivated Dandelions
- Edamame (soy beans)
- Malabar Spinach
- New Zealand Spinach
- Peppers (sweet and hot)
- Sprouting broccoli
- Summer squash
- Sweet potatoes
Plant flowers that love the heat
Some of the most beautiful flowers have very short blooming periods. Cherry blossoms, for example, bloom after peak blooming season and only flower for a couple of days. Summer flowers, on the other hand, will keep your garden looking vibrant throughout the season. One of the best of this variety is, appropriately enough, the sunflower. These bright yellow flowers bloom from April all the way through October — and having plenty of sunflower seeds after they go to seed is a definite perk. You can plant sunflowers right into the ground in an area with direct, extended sunlight. They will love it.
Another option is Cosmos. These flowers have a beautiful purple hue with an orange centre, though they also grow in white, orange, and yellow. Cosmos last from December through May and love full sun. They can grow wild as well, and are best planted as seeds rather than as transplants. Other colourful, heat-loving flowers include black-eyed susans, canna lilies, dahlia’s, fuchsias, hydrangeas, and lavender. All grow well, require little maintenance, and will keep blooming throughout the summer.
Herbs that grow best in the summer
Summer herbs are perfect for the outdoor cook. Planting site Tui offers a summer herb growing guide that will complement your al fresco entertaining from December through March. Herbs like mint grow well in the summer, just in time for prime mojitos season. Basil and rosemary are heat-loving plants that are often used to season beef and chicken or add to tequila drinks.
Tui suggests these and other herbs for summer, including “basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley, rosemary, coriander, dill, chervil, rocket, and borage,” all of which thrive in warm climates.
Summer plants that keep bugs at bay
Summer planting is fairly straightforward — just make sure to use garden beds, pots, or containers for things like mint or lemongrass, which tend to grow wild and take over gardens if not contained. On the plus side, they also keep away aphids and deter white butterflies, so locate them near other plants to help your garden thrive during the buggiest months.