The weather has started to heat up, and some of those gorgeous spring blooms and buds have started to look a little wilted in the heat. What can you do with the areas of your garden that aren't going to fare well this summer? Well, the big strategy should be to change out aspects of your garden! For the most delicate plants, you'll want to substitute in the hardiest summer annuals you can find.
Spring Plants That Fade With Summer
We've all seen the peeking out of the crocuses and daffodils at times when we are just sure that it is too cold for them, yet even under a late frost they tend to thrive. Pansies are a great spring-time annual, and many of the bulb flowers, like irises and hyacinths, are good options for early spring as well that will come back next year also. Creeping flox and primrose are springtime perennials that will bring beauty back to your garden year after year.
On the other hand, you may be focused on spring time veggies: the cool-weather crops tend to center around quick-to-grow plants like peas and radishes, as well as all manner of greens, from spinach to kale, chard to bok choy. If it works in your climate, rhubarb adds a beautiful pink color to the garden and is so delicious in strawberry rhubarb pie. Add strawberries to that spring planting list too!
One way to make sure your garden stays vibrant all summer, however, is to leave space in your garden for some annuals to be planted as the weather really heats up. Many of the above plants will either stop flowering or reduce their growth, but they can stay in the garden as your annuals take center stage for the rest of the growing season.
Great Options for Hardy Summer Plants
By the middle of summer, there may be brown patches in the grass, and you'll really be longing for some color in the heat waves. Make sure you choose some hardy full-sun annuals that will enjoy the heat as much as a kid at the swimming pool. Petunias, impatiens, and geraniums add bursts of color and are easy to grow. Marigolds and zinnias have vegetable companion planting benefits, providing some natural pest control if you worry about bugs getting into your prize veggies. Choosing annuals and interspersing them where you typically grow your spring plants will give the summer garden beds a new lease and make it clear that summer is here.
For veggies, consider the harvest cycle for your spring veggies, and when they have all reached harvest, you are probably getting into the months of the hottest weather in your area. This is a good time to pull out any plants that won't be producing further and get some summer veggies going. In fact, as soon as you start harvesting from your salad greens or other spring veggies, you can probably start seeds for some of your summer crops. Cucumbers, eggplants, and beans all thrive in the heat and tend to spread, so give them plenty to climb on as they grow. Peppers, squash, zucchini, and melons are all also heat-loving and will thrive in the summer sun. Tomatoes are one of the easiest summer veggies, and getting them started as the heat rises is a great idea.
Autumn Transitions: Back to Cool-Weather Plants
Plan for your autumn garden, again, by examining your seed packets or the information with the varieties of summer plants you've chosen. When they hit their harvest dates, start considering what cool-weather veggies you'd like to plant for a second time - your lettuce beds may have lain fallow for the hottest months, if they are in full-sun, but they will welcome some September or October weather for another growing cycle. Flowering annuals will thrive until different times in the year depending on your hardiness zone, but get all the beauty out of them that you can.
For some crops, like tomatoes, you may be able to continue to get reduced yields through the later weeks of autumn, depending on the variety and your local conditions. One of the best strategies for getting more exact times and dates for these spring-to-summer and summer-to-fall transitions is to keep a garden diary. Write about how your plants are doing on different days. While each year will be a little different with weather and temperatures, you can get a better idea for next year of how quickly your veggie crops taper off and when it is most advantageous to go ahead and switch out crops. Pay attention to where you plant the new crops as well: if you are adding a blueberry bush one year, for instance, it tends to like acidic soil, so pick a spot that has a slightly acidic pH.
With time, your sense of when the seasons are truly shifting for your garden will get even more keen.