Tag Archives: flowers

12 Flowers to Plant in Summer

Powder Puff Mixed Colors Asters – 85 days

For many of us modern gardeners spring flies by in a blur. With all of our other commitments some of our best spring garden intentions go out the window. When summer rolls around it’s easy to regret not planting more flowers especially if you visit other gardens with plentiful blooms. Thankfully there’s still a variety of flowers that can be sown in the summer and bring beauty to your garden.

Asters

A good choice for later plantings, asters bloom in just 85 days and can be direct sown. They germinate best with soil temperatures around 70°F and make excellent cut flowers.

Coreopsis

Blooming in 83 days coreopsis is a gorgeous summer flower that can also be used to make natural dyes. It germinates in temperatures between 55°-70°F. Planting coreopsis will help with next year’s garden too because it self sows readily.

Cosmos

Cosmos come in a wide range of colors and are easy to grow. they germinate best in 70°F soil and bloom in just 45-65 days depending on the variety.

Hyacinth Bean

Despite being a bean, hyacinth is purely ornamental and is actually poisonous if consumed. It’s a large climbing bean that can grow up to 10-20 ft depending on the conditions. It produces beautiful pink-purple flowers and should be sown a month after your last frost.

Johnny Jump-Ups

These cute little flowers also called violas, are easy to grow in the summer and are edible! They can be direct sown when soil temperatures are around 70°F.

Marigolds

Signet Marigold, Lemon Gem – 59 days

Depending on the variety you choose you can have marigolds blooming in your garden in as little as 55 days. While many people start them indoors early in the spring they can be direct sown after soils warm up.

Morning Glories

These lovely vining flowers can be direct sown and bloom in about 65 days. Before planting be sure to soak the seeds for 2 days, changing the water every 12 hours.

Nasturtiums

Another edible flower nasturtiums make a wonderful addition to any summer garden. They can be direct sown.

Phlox

Phlox will provide you with blooms well into the fall, with flowers surviving temperatures down to 20°F. It matures in just 80 days and is an good candidate for summer direct seeding.

Rudbeckia

Sometimes called Black-Eyed Susan, rudbeckia is great for gardeners without a lot of time. It’s a very hardy perennial and self sows and spreads readily.

Tithonia

Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) is a very heat hardy flower and can be direct seeded in soil temperatures up to 86°F. It can grow to 5 feet tall and is excellent for attracting butterflies to your garden.

Sunflowers

Super easy to grow sunflowers are a popular choice for many gardeners. They stand up to summertime heat well and depending on the variety can bloom in as little as 53 days.

With the proper varieties you can create a late summer or fall garden that looks just as lovely as a spring flower garden. While many people only really get into gardening in the early summer continuing your garden throughout the year is an easy way to get more enjoyment and time out of it. For more tips on late season planting check out these posts.

Planning and Planting for an Abundant Fall and Winter Harvest

Succession Planting Warm-Season Crops for Hot Summers

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12 Edible & Medicinal Flowers to Add to Your Garden

Early in my gardening career I made the decision that I wasn’t going to “waste space” in my meager garden on flowers. Foolishly I thought that all they were good for was looking pretty. Slightly older and wiser me knows that flowers are for so much more than looks. Flowers are key to a productive garden. Some varieties are loved by pollinators, others draw in beneficial insects, and some even help repel unwanted pests! 

However if you’re a super practical gardener with some serious space restrictions you can get even more benefits out of your flower plantings. These varieties of flowers provide all the typical advantages and are either edible or medicinal. 

Edible Flowers

Sunflowers

Short Stuff Sunflowers

While sunflower seeds are an obvious edible benefit to growing sunflowers few people know that most of the plant can be eaten at different stages. Sunflower sprouts and very young plants are wonderful tossed into salads. The petals are a bit bitter but can also be used sparingly in salads. Young stalks can be peeled and used like celery, the leaves can be cooked like greens, and the unopened buds can be used like artichokes.

Bachelor’s Buttons

Polka Dot Bachelor’s Buttons

Bachelor’s buttons are a great way to add a lot of beauty to any dish. They can be eaten fresh in salads or used as a garnish. They’ve even been used to adorn cakes. They also hold their color well when dried and make an excellent natural food dye.

Breadseed Poppys

Hungarian Blue Breadseed Poppys

The only part of this flower that’s edible is the seeds. Breadseed poppy pods are filled with poppy seeds that are great for baking. If you love lemon poppy seed muffins this might be the right flower for you!

Johnny-Jump-Ups

Helen Mt. Johnny-Jump-Ups

Like bachelor’s buttons, johnny-jump-ups make a tasty addition to salads or add a touch of natural beauty as a garnish. They can have a mild wintergreen flavor.

Hollyhocks

Outhouse Hollyhocks

This one usually surprises people but hollyhocks are entirely edible! The roots, leaves, and flowers can all be eaten though it’s typically just the young leaves and flowers that are eaten fresh. They’re actually related to the mallow plant and the entire plant has a variety of medicinal uses.

Nasturtiums

Jewel Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums are hard not to love. Their bright orange flowers and lilly pad like leaves add a bit of charm to even the most organized vegetable garden. They’re also delicious and the flowers and leaves make wonderful salads.

Medicinal Flowers

Echinacea

Echinacea Purpurea

Echinacea is a beautiful perennial flower and a potent medicinal. It’s frequently used to strengthen the immune system.

Chamomile

German Chamomile

A lovely little flower that makes a wonderfully relaxing tea, chamomile really deserves a spot in every garden. It’s easy to grow and easy to use. It has an apple-like flavor and fragrance and is also anit-innflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-spasmodic.

Feverfew

Though it looks much like chamomile, feverfew is a seperate medicinal herb and as the name suggests has long been used to treat fevers. More recently a study published in the British medical journal Lancet reported that 2-3 fresh leaves of feverfew eaten daily over a period of time reduced the severity and frequency of migraines.

Calendula

Resina Calendula

Another powerful medicinal, calendula is frequently used in salves and lotion to help heal skin irritations. However it also makes a tasty tea and has anti-innflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

Bergamot

Wild Bergamot

Bergamot is often used to make tea and was used by several Native American tribes as a carminative. It’s also a favorite of hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies making it definitely worth adding to your garden.

Lavender

English Munstead Lavender

Generally thought of as a calming medicinal herb (try making some tea) lavender is also a tasty culinary herb. It can be used to flavor beverages, breads, cookies and more. 

If your space and time are limited it can be really important to get the most out of every square in of garden space. Thankfully there’s no reason to give up the beauty of flowers to do that. These varieties can help you grow a productive garden by providing you with food, medicine, and food for pollinators and beneficial insects as well.

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Planning a Pollinator Garden

By Jordan Charbonneau, photos by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly on Bergamot (Bee Balm)

Thankfully it seems people are coming around to the idea that our pollinators are in trouble. Wildflower packets and seeds bombs are “in” right now. While they may provide some relief, saving our precious bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects is going to take a little more than tossing a seed bomb into an empty garden bed.

Pollinators need food sources all season long from very early in the spring to late in the fall. In many areas native wildflower and meadow species have been replaced by monoculture lawns and select ornamental flowers. While this isn’t the only reason our pollinators are dying it certainly is a contributing factor. If you truly want to help pollinators it’s important to learn to plan a garden that offers an abundance of food sources all summer.

Timing

Figuring out how to have a garden that’s always in bloom can be a bit tricky. You’ll need to plan your plantings to maximize your garden’s potential.

Start Plants Early

Butterfly Weed

For many hobby gardeners flowers get planted when all danger of frost is past. Unfortunately many pollinators are active early and need flowers as soon as it’s warm enough to move around. If you don’t start flowers ahead of time there won’t be any flowers when they need them most.

The easiest way to start flowers early is to start them indoors. The Southern Exposure Beginner’s Growing Guide is a great resource and can help you get a jump on the season.

Another great way to have early blooms is to plant perennial flower varieties like Butterfly Weed or self-seeding varieties. These are often sooner to bloom than the annuals.

Succession Planting

Some families may already practice succession planting in their home vegetable garden. Just like it’s better for families to have summer squash spread throughout the season than a ton all at once pollinators do better if you’re plants’ bloom times are staggered too.

To help pollinators with this problem it’s simple to start flowers in small batches, every two-four weeks depending on the variety so that they’re not all blooming at the same time. This can be done indoors in seedling trays or direct sowing in the garden.

For example single stem sunflowers generally only have pollen for about two weeks. To extend your harvest you can sow batches every two weeks. Just take into account your chosen variety’s “days to harvest” to ensure all of your plantings will bloom before fall frosts.

Selecting Varieties

Everyone has trouble picking out seeds. There’s so many varieties and so little time and space! For your pollinator garden there’s a few special considerations to help you narrow down your list.

Bloom Period

Typically flowers are selected for their looks and smell but for your pollinator garden you’ll want to consider when varieties flower, what time of day they flower, and how long they flower.

Some plant varieties offer much longer blooming periods than others. Often these varieties are favorites for cut flower growers but they can also be helpful for pollinators. Some great long blooming flowers include Cosmos, Zinnias, Bergamot, and Poppies.

Sadly moths are often forgotten in the pollinator conversation. Moths are beautiful and absolutely play a necessary part in the ecosystem. To give them a helping hand plant varieties like Four O’Clocks or Evening Scented Primrose which bloom in the evening.

Native Wildflowers

Another consideration when planting for pollinators is to be sure and include native species. Those free promotional wildflower seed packets are great but they may not include varieties that are essential to the survival of your local pollinators.

Native wildflowers are also well adapted to your local climate meaning that they can do well with much less watering and maintenance. They’re great for pollinators, the environment, and you! What’s not to love?

Some of my favorite native wildflowers from Southern Exposure include the Appalachian native Lemon Bergamot, the aptly named Butterfly Weed, and Texas native Red Drummond Phlox.

Dual Purpose Flowers

Echinacea

If you’re like me your garden is all about practically. While helping pollinators is obviously important to having a successful farm I still like to squeeze extra productivity where possible. I often pick varieties of flowers that are edible, medicinal, or can be used for dye. If you’re all about making the most of your garden space check out these varieties.

Edible Medicinal Dye
Bachelor’s Button Anise-Hyssop Coreopsis
Bread Seed Poppy Bergamot (Bee Balm) Hopi Dye Sunflower
Grain Amaranth Calendula
Johnny-Jump-Up Chamomile
Mexican Mint Marigold Echinacea
Nasturtium Feverfew
Red Clover Hyssop
Sunflowers Lavender

Other Ideas

Aside from a carefully planned flower garden there are several ways to incorporate more blooms into your property.

Save Seed

You may think that plants like lettuce and radishes offer little benefits to pollinators because they’re harvested before they flower. However if you choose to save seed they’ll flower before you harvest your seeds.

Cover Crop

Never leave soil bare! Not only does it contribute to nutrient depletion and erosion it’s also a waste of valuable space. If you’re letting a section of garden rest for the season consider a cover crop like alfalfa or clover which fix nitrogen in your soil and flower for long periods. When you finish with an early crop like radishes, arugula, or peas consider quick to flower, cover crops like Buckwheat.

Leave Un-mowed Areas

If you have a larger property than you use for gardens a great way to help pollinators and many other native species is simply to leave areas natural. Without constant mowing many native species will flourish.

Sometimes all the world’s problems can be a bit overwhelming but small actions can really make a big difference. Following these tips can help you create a beautiful garden that will give pollinators a helping hand. With a little extra effort you’ll be helping moths, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators and beneficial insects.

What’s your favorite flower variety?