Resembling tiny petunias, calibrachoa blooms from spring until fall without a pause until frost sets in. The tender perennial (which is usually treated like an annual) is available in a dizzying range of colors: pink, yellow, red, orange, white, green, gold, and even combinations of hues. Plant calibrachoa in a hanging basket to show off its spreading shape, or use it as a filler or spiller in a large mixed container. As a bonus, there’s no need to deadhead these garden glories; they’ll thrive with full sun, moist soil, and monthly fertilization. Available at Burpee.com; $19.99 for 3 plants.
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In areas with mild winters, lantana grows into a large shrub, but most gardeners treat it as an annual instead. The plant blooms brilliantly from late spring through early autumn, with tiny individual blossoms clustering into “bouquets” of yellow, pink, red, and orange. Lantana loves heat and direct sun, resists drought fairly well, isn’t bothered by many insects, and doesn’t need much fertilizer. Available at Burpee.com; $19.99 for 3 plants.
A short-lived perennial, gaillardia (also known as blanket flower) loves the summer heat. Butterflies often visit its daisy-shaped flowers, which are bi- or tricolored in shades of gold, orange, burgundy, and yellow. Since gaillardia ranges from dwarf to three feet high, it’s a great choice for a large container—although it will thrive in any patch of well-drained, slightly sandy soil that receives full sun. Expect the drought-resistant plant to bloom from late spring through fall. Available at Burpee.com; $12.99.
Another tender perennial treated as an annual, coreopsis (which goes by the common name of tickseed) blooms with solid pink, orange, yellow, or burgundy-and-yellow blossoms. Coreopsis generally grows in a clump, sending up a seemingly endless parade of flowers on long stems. Butterflies and other pollinators love them, and birds enjoy snacking on their seeds. Make sure to give coreopsis full sun, well-draining soil, and regular watering when first planted. Available on Burpee.com; $13.99.
Gazania opens in the sunshine and closes at nighttime or on cloudy days. The daisy-like petals come in a riot of bright colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, burgundy, and white. Many varieties have eyes or stripes as well. Gazania grows in low mounds of spreading clumps, and it looks equally stunning in the ground or in a container with well-draining soil. These beauties like it hot and sunny; in the shade, the flowers won’t open. Available on Amazon; $6.49 for 100 seeds.
It’s hard to imagine a summer garden without at least a few petunias. You’ll find petunias in nearly every color except true blue, and petals can be solid, bicolor, striped, eyed, or ruffled. Plant your petunias in a sunny spot with minimal wind and well-drained soil, don’t let them become overly dry, and fertilize monthly. Also, watch out for pests and disease; petunias are prone to mildew and bacterial rot, and they're subject to damage from caterpillars, aphids, and leaf miners. Available at The Home Depot; $34.99 for a pack of four plants.
The stiff, pom-pom shaped flowers of globe amaranth look glorious in any garden. While most varieties are magenta, you’ll also find cultivars in pink, white, purple, and red. One of the best things about globe amaranth is its versatility; the tall and spiky plant looks great in a container, but it will also thrive in a flower bed or cottage garden. Globe amaranth prefers full sun, doesn’t require much fertilizer, and withstands most plant diseases and insects. Available on Amazon; $6.49 for 1000 seeds.
Cosmos may look fragile, but it's actually a hardy flower that blooms throughout the spring and summer. The most common variety, Cosmos bipinatus, can surpass two feet in height, with dancing flowers on thin stems stretching above the ferny foliage. While pink and white are the most common colors, you’ll also find blossoms in red, yellow, orange, and burgundy. Cosmos prefers full sun (with some afternoon shade in hot climates) as well as slightly dry soil that’s not too fertile. Available at Burpee.com; $3.99 for 50 seeds.
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Baby's Breath Euphorbia
While each individual flower of baby's breath euphorbia is very small, the blooms cluster together to create the appearance of a fluffy cloud from a distance. Baby’s breath euphorbia looks equally gorgeous in a container or as an airy touch to a sunny garden bed, where it will bloom continuously until the first frost. As a bonus, this annual doesn’t require fertilizer or excessive water, and you won’t need to deadhead it. Available at The Home Depot; $34.95 for a pack of four plants.
The salvia family is very large indeed, but it’s the annual Salvia splendens that blooms most continuously from late spring until fall. You’ll find many named cultivars of this variety of salvia, which sends up sprigs of tubular purple, red, or white blossoms that draw hummingbirds like a magnet. Salvia often reaches two or more feet in height and prefers full sun. The pretty flowers grow best in containers, but they also do well massed in a flower bed or lining a garden path. Available at Burpee.com; $4.99 for 125 seeds.
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One of the hardest-working annuals in your summer garden is the zinnia, which has a stiff and upright growth pattern. These colorful plants like heat, full sun, and moderate moisture levels. On the downside, zinnia attracts mildew and rust; in fact, it can seem nearly impossible to prevent these annoying fungal diseases from spreading on your plants, but they won’t stop the flowers from growing. Available at The Home Depot; $34.99 for a pack of four plants.
Annual vinca (Catharanthus roseus) may not come in a wide range of colors—mostly hot pink, light pink, white, and lilac— but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better flower for lining pathways, filling containers, or enhancing your flower beds. While there are trailing varieties of annual vinca, most are short, mounding plants with glossy green foliage. Vinca grow best with full sun, a hot climate, monthly fertilizing, and limited water. Available at The Home Depot; $42.93 for a pack of 18 plants.
The shady spots in your yard need love too. Spruce up the dimly lit spaces with impatiens, which pump out white, pink, fuchsia, lilac, red, and coral flowers from spring until the first frost. Impatiens thrive in shady spots with moist soil, but as a downside, they can be quickly wiped out by downy mildew. Available at The Home Depot; $34.99 for a pack of four plants.
Do you need a trailing plant to edge your containers or hang over a window box? How about a small-scale ground cover for a rock garden, fairy garden, or gaps in a stone wall? Then you’ll love moss rose, a low-growing succulent that covers itself with papery blooms resembling roses. The flowers, which close at night and open with the sun, come mostly in bright shades of pink, red, orange, yellow, cream, and white. A fairly drought-resistant plant, moss rose needs full sun and well-draining soil. Available at Burpee.com; $4.99.
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Get set to enjoy beautiful blooms all summer long.
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