Summer is a great time to garden, even as a novice. You can start with a garden full of flowers or a group of plants that can be used as cooking ingredients.
Focus on plants that support pollinators. These plants will do good and look lovely in your garden. “Many of our native pollinators are in decline, and providing them with sources of nectar and pollen is one step we can take to support them,” says Jessica Walliser, author of gardening books including “Plant Partners: Science- Based Companion Planting Strategies for the vegetable garden.” She suggests starting with native North American perennials — plants that will live for many years — including coneflowers, perennial sunflowers, milkweed and mountain mint.
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Tara Nolan, author of “Gardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small Spaces,” joined a native plant of the month club last year. Many plant retailers offer this option for both indoor and outdoor plants. some, like the Urban Organic Gardener, send out seeds so you can grow food all year round. “It introduced me to a variety of plants from my area that are perfect for attracting pollinators to my garden,” says Nolan, who runs the website. savvygardening.com alongside Walliser and fellow gardening expert Niki Jabbour. “A new favorite is the prairie smoke, with its wispy seed heads.”
Grow herbs and other edible plants. Why not charm your al fresco dining companions with a homemade basil pesto sauce you’ve grown yourself? “Basil is especially good for summer planting because it thrives in warm weather,” says Walliser. “Planting a few new plants throughout the season results in a continuous harvest due to their staggered growth rates,” she says, noting that the same is true for rosemary.
Rosemary is also a reference for Linda Ly of Garden Betty, a blog dedicated to gardening, homesteading and sustainable living. “If you’re new to gardening, rosemary is as low-maintenance as an edible plant,” she says. “Rosemary can be grown as a culinary herb, pollinator-friendly perennial, or hedge, and it’s an excellent choice for hot, dry climates because it’s very drought-tolerant once established.”
Dan Allen, CEO of Farmscape, California’s largest urban agriculture company, is also a proponent of herbs for new gardeners. “They stay relatively compact and aren’t too prone to pests or disease,” he says.
Or try cherry tomatoes, which work well in larger pots, wine barrels, raised beds or plots grown in the ground, Allen says. They will thrive in hot summer temperatures once they are established. When growing tomatoes, be sure to remove almost any “suckers” or growths that emerge between the main stem and leaf clusters, to ensure the plant has “just a few shoots,” Allen says. “You will be rewarded with a more manageable garden and tastier fruit.”
Take the time to plan for next year. Summer is a great time to think about next year’s garden. “For many plants, summer is not an ideal planting time, as they prefer to be transplanted and establish when temperatures are cooler,” says Allen. But you can find inspiration if you walk around. “Many gardens in your neighborhood will be in full bloom, so now is a great time to get inspired, make a list, and plan ahead for everything you’d like to include in your garden in the future,” he says. . Then research the best time to plant these varieties, whether it’s fall or spring, so you can enjoy them next summer.
Creation of an inner jungle
No garden? No problem. Take advantage of this season to become a full-fledged plant parent in the comfort of your living room.
Consider your schedule. Chances are you don’t spend your summer watering your plants all day; holidays can take you out of the house for days or even weeks. If you’re looking for a plant that will thrive this season but is low-maintenance, go for the money tree, says Lindsay Pangborn, gardening expert at online plant retailer Bloomscape. She says the money tree is perfect for creating a tropical summer vibe in your home, with its large leaves and braided trunk. An added benefit: it is relatively low maintenance, making it ideal for people who will be away from home for long periods of time.
Go for something that thrives in humid climates. Do you have access to a covered veranda? Use the intense summer humidity to your advantage and house a few plants there. Tasha Adams of Hickory Lane Plants, a mobile plant company based in Springfield, Mo., says many plants thrive in high humidity conditions. She says that monstera varieties, especially Monstera deliciosa, are excellent for beginners. “These plants are easy to keep alive and propagate, don’t require difficult care, and thrive in bright, indirect light,” she says. “They grow quickly, produce beautiful foliage and are quite hardy.”
Although many indoor plants thrive in the humidity of summer, you should only place the plants outside once they’re ready, says Anna Johnston, owner and creative director of the plant store. Jungle & Loom. The company offers a variety of plants, including palms, cordyline, and elephant ears, that have been grown in full sun and are ready to live outdoors in the warm months. They will also thrive in medium to bright indirect light when brought indoors. “They won’t get as big in your house, but that might not be a bad thing, because [elephant ears] in particular, can get quite tall in your garden,” says Johnston.
Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.