Q: I’m ready to think about planning summer garden colors; what are some options?

A: As the weather warms, many of us are ready to start thinking about adding bright, expressive summer colors to our gardens. Check out photos online of some of these recommended plants and ‘ooh and ahh’ over the latest in nurseries before springtime arrives.

Some plant nomenclature can certainly intrigue you, almost as if you could enjoy a meal based on their names. How about a very cute daisy named “Cupcake Banana Cream” biden? Or a “Cora XDR Punch” vinca or “Cha Cha Cherry” penstemon? Uncommon plants such as a “Dahlighful Tupelo Honey” dahlia or “Fancifillers Guacamole” Plectranthus will also delight your plant appetite.

True edibles like ornamental peppers make great pops of color in the landscape. Try “Sedona” or “Hot Pops” for bright splashes of reds, yellows and even purples. Though edible, they may be very spicy, so use caution when sampling out of your garden!

The brightly colored daisy relatives “Cherokee Sunset” rudbeckia and “Zahara XL Fire” zinnia are summer garden favorites and great pollinator plants. “Butterfly Red and Graffiti 20/20” pentas mix with white, pink and lavender clusters of tubular, nectar-rich flowers that are butterfly magnets.

Many botanical gardens, including Mercer Botanic Gardens, work with wholesale growers to curate their latest selection of plants and often plant trial displays to see what plants grow well or what may not hold up in our summers! Don’t be surprised if the gardens have some small, flashy displays that may disappear if they falter in mid-season.

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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