Do you get the mid-summer blues (or blahs) when your garden seems to be at a standstill with nothing in bloom? Do you envy your neighbors’ with their endless color throughout the summer? Don’t despair! Adding season-long color to your garden is easy with a bit of advance (or even last minute) planning!
Long Term Solutions . . .
Unless you’re a diligent seed-saver, buying annual seeds or plants each year can become expensive over time. So, one solution is to add perennials and flowering shrubs to your garden, selecting them not only by color or overall looks, but also by their bloom time. And don’t forget that colorful foliage can add as much interest to a garden as colorful bloomers.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking. Swapping plants with your friends and neighbors is the easiest way but be careful – some people are far to generous with plants that are “taking over” their gardens. So, you may want to think twice about accepting any fast spreaders unless you have tons of room. A few examples include Bee Balm, any and all mints, and Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana).
Local garden clubs, schools and other non-profit groups often have plant sales and it’s a great and inexpensive way to try new plants and help a good cause at the same time. If there are no plants sales in your area, think about organizing a plant swap day. It’s a great way to share plants and meet people!
And, of course, your local garden center is usually filled to the brim with perennials that are best suited to your area. Generally it’s best to buy perennials before they’re in bloom so that you’ll be able to enjoy them while they’re blooming in your garden rather than on the retail shelf.
Spend more time enjoying your garden and less time working it!
Selecting easy-care plants will allow you more time to enjoy your garden rather than working in it. For instance, Flower Carpet roses bloom from mid-June through late frosts in most of the US and require very little time or effort to keep them blooming. Volcano garden phlox, if deadheaded or cut back will bloom a second time, taking you right into early frost with their blooms. Daylilies generally have long bloom times as well, as do Storm agapanthus (Lily of the Nile).
And finally, short term solutions . . .
Adding long-blooming annuals such as some of the spreading, long blooming petunias like The ‘Wave’, ‘Surfina’, Cascadia’, and ‘Supertunia’ series is another way to add long season color. These spreading petunias have become quite popular because they don’t need to be deadheaded and can be used in a variety of settings. Because of their long gestation period, these annuals are best purchased as small plants rather than starting from seed. The same is true of easy to grow annuals like Geraniums, Impatiens, Wax Begonias, Snapdragons and Angelonia.
Other long bloomers that grow quickly from seed include Sweet Alyssum, Marigolds, Cornflowers, Cosmos, Calendula, Sunflowers, Morning Glories, and Nasturiums. If you direct seed these right into your garden beds, by the time early summer perennials are fading, these little gems will start to shine. Marie Iannottti offers 3 great tips for keeping your annuals blooming.
And don’t forget those annuals like Coleus, Caladiums, Flowering Kale and Dusty Miller that offer great foliage color for months at a time.
Containers filled with colorful plants a great to move around the garden as needed is another short-term solution to bare or dull spots in the garden.
To help in choosing plants that will add color to your garden, here’s a partial listing of easy-care perennials and shrubs. The bloom season will vary depending on your growing zone/location but this should help to get started on your journey to add season-long color to your garden.