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Enjoy a Rainbow of Colors in Late Summer Gardens

  • Gibbs Gardens

    Rick Cannon

No matter where in Georgia you garden, summer heat and periods of wet followed by periods of dry can present a challenge to even the most seasoned gardeners. July and August can be both challenging and rewarding for gardeners and plants alike. The good news is that there are a wealth of annuals that not only bloom for months but thrive, even during the dog days of summer. 

Visit Gibbs Gardens and the many other gardens on the North Georgia Garden Trail for inspiration for your summer garden, and follow these tips for creating and maintaining brilliant color in your own yard this summer.

Annual Combinations

Pentas 'Graffiti Rose,' Duranta 'Gold Edge,' and Scaevola, a great combination for full sun. Butterflies are drawn to pentas.
Pentas 'Graffiti Rose,' Duranta 'Gold Edge,' and Scaevola, a great combination for full sun. Butterflies are drawn to pentas.

Despite the heat or maybe because of it, many of these beauties come into their own in late summer. Whether you grow them as bedding plants, or create color combinations for containers, annuals give you a big return for a small investment. They provide a continuous riot of color, weaving together to create a unique tapestry — in the landscape or spilling out of containers. It’s almost as if they have been waiting for just the right moment to take center stage.

Window boxes in late July at Gibbs Gardens with Caladium 'Red Flash,' begonias, chartreuse sweet potato vine called 'Margarita,' red Salvia, Duranta 'Gold Edge' and Tibouchina with purple velvet-like flowers. This combination thrives in part-shade. Photo by Erica Glasener
Window boxes in late July at Gibbs Gardens with Caladium 'Red Flash,' begonias, chartreuse sweet potato vine called 'Margarita,' red Salvia, Duranta 'Gold Edge' and Tibouchina with purple velvet-like flowers. This combination thrives in part-shade. Photo by Erica Glasener

Because they complete their lifecycle in one growing season, gardeners can experiment with colors and textures without making a long-term commitment. And, there are selections that shine for sun and shade. 

Tips for Caring for Your Annuals

Combining annuals and perennials can extend the season of bloom in your garden. Pictured here is the perennial Black-Eyed Susan (gold flowers) with annuals including Caladium and red salvia in the pool gardens at Gibbs Gardens. Photo by Rick Cannon
Combining annuals and perennials can extend the season of bloom in your garden. Pictured here is the perennial Black-Eyed Susan (gold flowers) with annuals including Caladium and red salvia in the pool gardens at Gibbs Gardens. Photo by Rick Cannon

1. Start with healthy plants.

2. Group plants together with similar cultural needs. Consider not only whether they like sun or shade but how much moisture they need. Some plants need lots of regular moisture while others will tolerate periods of drought.

3. Use a potting soil that drains easily but also holds moisture.

4. Plants in the ground will survive for longer periods without water than container plantings. 

5. When you water, water thoroughly. For containers-water until the water rushes out of the holes in the bottom of the pot.  Repeat this several times and then wait for the soil to dry out (dry to the touch) before you water again.

6. Fertilize on a regular basis using a liquid fertilizer.

7. Dead head flowers. Remove spent blossoms to encourage the production of more flowers over a long period of time.

Green and white Caladiums with begonias-perfect companions for a shady border. Photo by Rick Cannon
Green and white Caladiums with begonias-perfect companions for a shady border. Photo by Rick Cannon

Planting in Late Summer

There's still time to perk up your summer garden by adding some annual color. Plant up a decorative container with brilliant combinations that will bloom until frost.

To see a beautiful display of late summer color, visit Gibbs Gardens. For more information, visit gibbsgardens.com or call 770-893-1881. Please note seasonal hours; call for information. 

Erica Glasener

Erica Glasener is the marketing manager for Gibbs Gardens. A horticulturist, author and lecturer, Erica was the award-winning host of HGTV’s “A Gardener’s Diary” for 14 years. Erica is the author of “Proven Plants: Southern Gardens.” She is also the co-author with Walter Reeves of “Getting Started with Gardening in Georgia,” and “Month-by-Month Gardening in Georgia,” revised edition.

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