After a burst of spring flowers, summer can be a little drab. Summer-flowering shrubs, though, can keep a lot of color in the landscape and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. With just a little planning and planting, they’ll help keep the garden attractive all summer.
The butterfly bush is one of the easiest to grow. Every garden should have at least one. These plants are tough. They’ll grow almost anywhere. And they attract butterflies anytime flowers are present. Most are round or vase-shaped and get 8 to 10 feet tall with age. The leaves are dark green to silver, depending upon the selection. And many selections are available.
The fragrant flower panicles are 10 to 14 inches long. They come in white, pink, lavender, purple, near-red and yellow. Blooming starts in June or July and continues until frost. Removing the spent flowers will keep new blooms coming.
Butterfly bushes transplant easily from containers into well-drained soils. Cut these large plants back to 1 foot in late winter. They’ll regrow completely in the new season and flower abundantly.
Summer-flowering hydrangeas are spectacular for shady areas. When they get the moisture and fertilizer they require to grow well, they produce ample rewards.
The smooth hydrangea forms round mounds of foliage 3 to 5 feet tall. They’re often wider than that. The flowers appear in June and are showy for three to four weeks. Cut the plants back to 6 inches in late winter. They’ll flower next year on the new growth. "Annabelle" is a great selection, with rounded clusters of small flowers 10 to 12 inches wide.
The bigleaf hydrangea produces bright blue flower clusters in Georgia’s acidic soils. The rounded shrubs can reach 6 to 8 feet tall and be nearly covered with electric blue flowers that can last four weeks or more. The reflowering types like "Endless Summer" or "Penny Mac" will keep flowering until frost. The plants need moisture and shade in the heat of the day to prevent wilting.
Our native oakleaf hydrangea has magnificent, white, cone-shaped flower clusters sticking out from the foliage. These 10- to 12-inch-long clusters can develop a pinkish color as they age.
The large, oak-like leaves are dark green and become red in the fall before dropping. The plants can grow 10 feet tall or more, but dwarf forms are available. Oakleaf hydrangeas require good drainage to survive in the landscape. Plants naturally fit at the edge of the forest or woodland.
These summer-flowering shrubs can brighten any landscape. Select plants adapted for your yard: sun or partial shade, moist or dry.
Container plants can be transplanted anytime. Fall-planted shrubs, though, will require less attention to get established for next year. So plan now, plant this fall, and enjoy the color in your landscape next summer.
Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.