If your thumb is even remotely green, you likely know that the best time to start your outdoor planting depends on the dates of the first and last frost of the season. Here in the South, that typically falls at some point between late March and mid-April. And, with the heat of summer officially upon us, you may think it’s too late to continue building upon your garden and landscaping — but you’d be surprised at just how many flowers and vegetables can be introduced at this time of year! Here are five things it’s not too late to plant outside according to the experts at Bates Nursery.
It’s Not Too Late to Plant These 5 Things in Your Garden!
Peppers thrive in warm weather. “Peppers really get growing when the temperatures are hot, hot, hot!” says Tyler Blankenship, marketing director at Bates Nursery. “They do well despite there not being as much water available.” In fact, many of the spicier varietals, such as chili peppers and habañeros, prefer temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with their ideal temperature being closer to 80 degrees. Thankfully, this means peppers can flourish even at the height of summer, which bodes particularly well if you enjoy cooking. “[There are] so many varieties, from small to large and sweet to scorching hot,” says Tyler. “They’re great for roasting, stuffing, topping, or sautéing!”
When it comes to maintenance, watering your pepper plants around once per week should typically do the trick, as long as there’s thorough drainage. Of course, this can differ based on the plant’s size and environmental factors such as wind or a heat wave. Additionally, Tyler warns against leaving your pepper plant without enough support. “Be sure to stake them up, or you’re destined to have a leaning plant,” he advises.
Another hearty vegetable that makes for fruitful summer planting, late-season tomatoes offer an excellent addition to your culinary endeavors as long as you keep up with adequately watering them. “Taking a cue from peppers, most tomatoes will continue giving you a crop through frost,” Tyler tells us. “If you’re a lover of sauces, salsas, and fresh eating, they can’t be beat for a prolific summer veggie.” He adds that tomatoes love full sun, but too little or too much water can be detrimental. “Too much water will cause them to split, and too little will keep the fruit smaller,” he explains.
Some tomato types are particularly forgiving when it comes to the summer sun, including Big Beef, Bella Rosa, and Grape, which are all highly heat-tolerant and bear fruit despite climbing temperatures.
Rudbeckia Black-Eyed Susan
You might think August elicits lethargy and a need for shade, but the Rudbeckia Black-Eyed Susan begs to differ. A member of the sunflower family, this vibrant yellow (with a hint of orange-gold) flower was made for the dog days of summer. It blooms in late August and thrives for weeks without requiring much maintenance. “A native flower with sunny yellows, the Rudbeckia Black-Eyed Susan is a perennial and sometimes reseeds and spreads very easily,” says Tyler. “These flowers look great even on the hottest days!”
Indeed, these flowers can add an impressive dose of color to your garden without much effort. “[They require] full sun and low water,” Tyler tells us, “and they’re great for cut flower arrangements.”
Surviving until the first frost, Zinnias can add a long-lasting pop of color to your garden — from vivid magenta to crimson with bursts of mustard gold. “Zinnias require full sun and low water,” says Tyler, “and they usually come in seeds. They will also often reseed as an annual.” Though the recommended planting time for Zinnias is in May or June, planting in July isn’t entirely out of the question. Additionally, Zinnias tend to do well in drier growing conditions, so planting seedling zinnias in mid-August lends itself to a beautiful array of fall blooms! “There are tons of colors and sizes,” Tyler says, “and Zinnias are great in the middle of any flower bed, as a pollinator border to a garden space, and as a cut flower for arrangements.”
Since Lantanas are drawn to sunshine, your best bet is to plant these flowers in well-draining soil where they can absorb as much vitamin D as possible. Even putting them in the partial shade does them an injustice, as they are more susceptible to insects, disease, and decreased flower numbers. “Lantanas are heat-loving, have a wide color range, and like full sun,” says Tyler. “You can get them in tree form or grow them as a bushy annual.”
Though Lantanas may require frequent watering when they are first planted, they are relatively tolerant of mildly dry conditions and require very little maintenance once they are established. Plus, butterflies tend to love this plant, so you might catch a glimpse of even more of nature’s abundant beauty as the summer progresses!
Fresh herbs are one of the summer’s greatest pleasures, and growing them doesn’t require uber-advanced gardening skills. It’s reasonably little effort for big-time rewards. “Herbs such as basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme all thrive in hot gardens with lower water needs,” says Tyler. Other herbs such as mint, chives, and coriander also do well in the summer. If you’re a fan of Asian cooking, you can explore flavorful options like Vietnamese mint, Thai basil, and lemongrass.
“Well-draining soil and full sun will keep them happy,” Tyler says of the herbs, “and their blooms will keep the bees happy in return!” The bees won’t be the only ones. From grilled chicken with fresh rosemary and garlic to a Caprese salad with torn basil, herbs can elevate a dish from “moderately good” to “memorable” in no time flat. Tyler suggests snipping lower growth for culinary use.
Stay cool and happy planting!
For more landscaping and home design inspiration, visit our Homes archive!