When summer arrives, you may turn on your TV and watch "the boys of summer" playing baseball. But there may be an equally entertaining show going on in your garden with "the plants of summer." When the sun is high and the temperatures soar, these plants display beautiful blooms or foliage, often attracting bees, butterflies and birds in the process. Add these beauties to your garden for a great summertime show.
Purple Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susan
Purple coneflower and black-eyed Susan are cousins in the coneflower family. These flowers are known for ray-like petals arranged around a prominent, cone-shaped disk. Purple coneflower’s petals are purple, while the black cone of black-eyed Susan is where it gets its name. These two perennials bloom throughout the hot summer months, and may be sown together as meadow flowers or in fence rows for cottage gardens. The flowers are self-seeding, so they spread and may be considered invasive. Rural farmers often consider them weeds rather than beneficial plants.
Hostas are known for their luxuriant foliage rather than their small, lily-like flowers. Varieties of hostas may have broad, heart-shaped leaves that range in color from yellow-green to blue-green. Some hostas have variegated leaves with white, yellow or green stripes. Hostas usually grow in tight, compact mounds that may reach as high as 37 inches and as wide as 6 feet. For more dramatic foliage, cut back the flowers before they can bloom. Though some hostas can tolerate full sun, most prefer partial or full shade. They die back in winter and re-emerge in spring.
Moon Flowers and Morning Glories
Moon flowers and morning glories are characterized by vines that twine in a counterclockwise spiral, trumpet-shaped flowers and heart-shaped leaves. Morning glories may be any color, though the most common, ‘Heavenly Blue,’ is blue with white centers. Moon flowers are white, a bit larger than morning glories, and the blooms open at night. These annual plants are often grown in fence rows and around mail boxes, where they may easily be mowed to prevent spreading. They prefer poor soil, and may not bloom if planted in nitrogen-rich soil. These plants are self-seeding, and will spread, but frost kills them.