Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > July 2017 > IN THE GARDEN with DOUG - DOG DAYS OF SUMMER / COLOR


So, why do we refer to this time of year as the “dog days of summer”?  The dog days are not just about our dogs starting to pant or us starting to complain about the heat.  Actually, the Dog Days of summer refer to the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, which coincide with the morning rise of the Dog Star, Sirius.  Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, not counting our sun.  Under the right conditions, it can even be seen during the day.  Sirius is one star in a group of stars that form the constellation Canis Major, meaning “Greater Dog”.
Mid-summer does not need to be a tricky time of year for many plants to be showing off some beautiful color.  Yes, we have many annuals continuously blooming this time of year.  But, we have lots of perennials and shrubs that put on a great show this time of year that helps to bridge the gap between summer and fall.  Check out my short list of plants to consider planting now for “cool” midsummer color:
  1.  Rudbeckia “Black-eyed Susan”  -  a great, easy care, very hardy perennial for our area.  Matter of fact, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay recognizes Rudbeckia as a native plant and to be used in creating rain gardens.  Rudbeckia has a daisy-like flower this time of year and comes in shades of yellow or orange with a dark center seed head.  It needs to be planted in full sun.  The flower will attract bees and butterflies. Rudbeckia will spread and naturalize from its own seed.  Lastly, Rudbeckia makes great cut flowers.
  2. Hibiscus syriacus “Rose of Sharon”  -  Some gardeners may refer to this plant as Althea.  The Rose of Sharon is a very hardy, deciduous, sun-loving, midsummer flowering shrub coming into color this time of year.  There are many varieties of Rose of Sharon in various flower color ranging from white, to blue, to pink, to red.  Find a large sunny location because this plant will grow to be 10 to 15 feet tall and about 5 feet wide.
  3. Buddleia “Butterfly bush”  -  I can’t say enough about this plant for its color this time of year.  And, what an attractor for butterflies.  Butterfly bush comes in an array of color and growing sizes.  A very hardy deciduous perennial shrub that blooms off of new growth so, therefore, you can prune the shrub in the winter in order to control the size.  Be sure to plant in full sun.
  4. Eupatorium purpureum “Joe-Pye Weed”  -  Pale pink blooms this time of year.  Mine is just beginning to show color and will continue in bloom until fall.  It is high in nectar and will attract a multitude of butterflies.  Joe-pye weed is considered a native plant to Virginia by the Virginia Native Plant Society.  And, like the Rudbeckia, is recognized by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay as a recommended plant for establishing a rain garden.
  5. Hosta  -  There are hundreds of varieties of hostas that are beginning to show color with their spikes of lavender or white flowers.  A very hardy perennial for any shade garden.  There are big leaf varieties as well as dwarf, compact varieties and all are with green, blue, chartreus, or variegated leaves.
These are just a few plants that I wanted to highlight for mid-summer color.
Other plants that give us mid-summer color:  Crape Myrtle, Coreopsis, Summer Phlox, Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’, perennial hibiscus, and Echinacea. 
So, what have I left off from this blog?  -  daylilies, Russian Sage, Nepeta, Agastache, and sedum.
My point in all of this?  Yes, it is mid-summer and yes, it is hot.  But, we still have lots of plants just coming into their own with beautiful color.
And, remember  -  when making any plant selection – for a successful planting experience it is all about                RIGHT PLANT, RIGHT LOCATION.
                                                                                Happy Gardening!!
Posted: 7/19/2017 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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