Spring has now passed, a pleasant but hazy memory with the official arrival of summer on June 21st. So, for the next few months, summer will keep us company. This means that we can count on a long and warm season for the next few months. The intense sunlight and high temperatures have now wilted most of our spring flowers, and now is the perfect time to add color to our gardens for the rest of the summer here in Southeast Texas. . There are many flowers that can withstand our hot and humid summers, even when the rains are scarce. There are also many annuals (plants that have only one growing season) and perennials (plants that have two or more growing seasons) that can be grown in our climate.
Petunias – are one of the longest blooming annuals, blooming from spring through fall and sometimes lasting through our mild winters. To keep them in bloom, cut them back continually removing spent flowers. Petunias are easily started from seed, but it will take some time before they are ready to provide flowers. If you’re like me and don’t want to wait, consider buying transplants from your favorite garden center, as they will have an assortment of colors. Many local garden centers and nurseries have petunia cultivars (hybrids), such as ‘Purple Wave’ which has a trailing habit and is perfect for hanging baskets, in a variety of colors including white, pink, purple, blue and red. For continuous blooms, fertilize them often and ensure adequate moisture is provided without allowing them to dry out completely between waterings.
Zinnias – are easy to grow from seed and provide color all summer long. They are extremely reliable bloomers that come in a variety of sizes and colors. From compact miniature plants to large cup sizes in colors pink, red, purple, orange, yellow, lavender, white and green, to name a few. There are 4 types of Zinnias, and each type depends on the rows of petals in a flower.
• Single flower – a single row of petals
• Semi-double flower – several rows of petals
• Fully double flowered – multiple rows of petals, center not visible, hidden by petals
• Cactus flower – petals curl downwards, petals twist to form a single flower
Gaillardia – is a terrific summer-flowering plant that blooms all season. It comes in bright colors of yellow and shades of red and orange, and even dark brown. They bloom continuously without dying and are perennials that need to be divided every 3-5 years.
Coreopsis – is considered by some gardeners to be an old fashioned flower but it is still one of my favorites. I grow coreopsis in the form of a ring from seeds collected the previous year and scatter them in new places. Grown as an annual, it will sometimes return year after year from self-seeding. The flowers should be capitulated and the colors range mainly from yellow to orange, but they are now also available in red.
Yarrow – is a sun-loving perennial with colors of white, yellow and red. The deadhead prevents them from self-seeding and the foliage will stay green through our mild winters.
Coneflower – is a perennial available in a multitude of colors. Purple is the most common color, with hybrids available in many other colors. All parts of purple echinacea are used for their medicinal properties. Echinacea are ideal for cut flowers and attract pollinators. They are easy to grow, able to bloom for months, and tolerate heat and drought.
Marigolds – are an annual that many gardeners, myself included, use in our vegetable gardens for companion planting. There are many varieties ranging from the French type to the African Amazonian variety. They grow easily from seed and bloom all summer. Marigolds are easy to grow and can handle the heat with minimal fuss, but need a dead head to bloom continuously.
Other runny summer plants are Rudbeckia, Monarda (bee balm), Dahlia, Angelonia and Gaura. Many can be grown from seed, with the exception of Angelonia.
If you have specific gardening questions or need more information, contact the Orange County Master Gardeners Helpline: (409) 882-7010 or visit our website: https://txmg.org /orange, Facebook: Orange County Texas Master Gardeners Association or email: [email protected]