Planting & Caring for Summer Flowers

We have officially passed the frost free date in May which means it’s time to plant those beautiful summer flowers! From this point on, when correctly cared for, you will get beautiful color from your flowers all the way until the first frost of Fall which typically doesn’t happen until mid to late October. You have two options for planting summer annuals:

  1. Plant in various types of pots/containers
  2. Plant in ground

You’ll want to select the appropriate flowers for your project. One of the most important things is making sure what you choose is appropriate for the amount of sun you have and when you get that sun.

    • Shade – 1-2 hours of sun or no sun at all. Some (but not all) great choices are Coleus, Caladium, some Begonia cultivars, Impatiens, & Boston Ferns, English Ivy. You can even mix in Hosta in shady pots for a boost of foliage color.
    • Part Shade – 2-4 hours of sun a day – this is morning sun only and not hot afternoon sun. Some great (but not all) choices are Fuschia, Impatiens, Coleus, Persian Shield, Boston Ferns, & Lobelia.
    • Partial Sun – 6 hours or less of sun every day – usually the first half of the day and not the hot evening sun. Some (but not all) great choices are Begonias (the Bronze leaf tolerate more sun than the green leaf), New Guinea Impatiens, sun loving varieties of Caladium and Coleus, Sweet Potato vines,
    • Full Sun – 6 plus hours of sun every day – hot afternoon sun is perfect for these! Some (but not all) great choices are Lantana, Petunias, Million Bells, Cosmos, Verbena, Marigold, Zinnias, & Dahlias.


For container planting, you will need the following:

  • A container with adequate drainage. The bottom of your container should have a hole or multiple holes to allow water to flow through and drain out. When this hole is absent, water will build up at the bottom and eventually rot the lower roots causing poor plant growth or death. If you have a pot that you just love that doesn’t have drainage holes then there are a couple ways to work around it.
    • Often the correct type of drill bit can create the holes you need.
    • Plant your flowers in a plastic nursery pot that is slightly smaller than the pot you are going to use and set it inside the pot. You can remove the plastic nursery container to water and drain and then place it back inside of the decorative pot.
  • A potting mix – NOT garden soil or topsoil. Potting mix is specifically tailored to be lightweight to allow for water to flow through. Typically, a potting mix is actually soiless. Garden soils or topsoil will compact in a pot and not allow water to drain as needed and will cause poor plant health or death.

When planting container plants, make sure that as you plant that you do not plant too deep. The top of the soil of the plant should sit right at soil level. Gently tamp down soil as you fill the pot to fill in air pockets. Fertilizer isn’t a gimmick – it really does make a big different in the appearance and health of your plant!


  • Leave the top 1″ of the pot unfilled to help keep water/soil runoff when watering
  • Top the potting mix with a thin layer of Pine Bark Soil Conditioner for a nice finished look and moisture retention
  • Fertilize containers with a balanced water soluble fertilizer every 4th-5th time you water such as Fertilome’s Blooming & Rooting formula or All Purpose 20-20-20 Water Soluble.
  • Fertilizing hanging baskets is extra important because of their lower soil content. Fertilizer washes out of hanging baskets quicker than other containers.

The possibilities are endless for container plants. When planting, you can go full and dramatic with a mixed planter or simple with an arrangement of multiples of the same flower. Hanging baskets of lush Boston Ferns, Petunias, or mixed flowers look great hanging from porches. Window boxes can be filled with plants to create a beautiful full spilling and upright effect. For a successful mixed container – just follow this simple recipe of Thriller, Filler, Spiller.

    • Thriller will be an upright grower such as Salvia, Angelonia, Elephant Ear, Dracena Spike, Caladium, Grasses such as Juncus or Purple Fountain, & Cordyline. These can be planted in the back or middle area of the planter
    • Filler are going to fill out your pot and can be plants such as Supertunias, Petunias, Diamond Frost, Celosia, Coleus, Dusty Miller, Persian Shield, Verbena, or Lantana depending on the variety. These will be planted around your thriller around the pot. Don’t be scared to combine more than one filler!
    • Spiller these spill over the edges of the pot and create a softness. Try ornamental Sweet Potato Vines that come in a variety of colors, Creeping Jenny, English Ivy, Alternathera, Bacopa, Alyssum, Million Bells, & Lobelia.

Mixed Windowboxes of Purple & Green Sweet Potatoes, Marigolds, & Coleus. 


For planting in ground, most importantly is making sure you have good quality well-drained soil. If you have not planted in a particular area before, it’s likely you have clay soil typical of our area. Add a soil amendment, such as Daddy Pete’s Composted Cow Manure or Daddy Pete’s Nursery Blend, by mixing it in with your exisiting soil with a half and half blend of the existing soil and the amendment. Measure the area or spot you want to plant in and purchase the correct number of plants according to their spacing needs.

You can plant individual plants such as tropicals like Mandevillae, Hibiscus, or Plumbago or mass plant together groups of flowers such as Begonias, Salvia, Marigolds, Lantana, Verbena, Petunias, & Impatiens.

TIP: When planting, mix in a granular slow release fertilizer such as Evergreen’s Bloomkote or Flower Booster formulation. Top dress with Bloomkote slow release fertilizer monthly through the growing season.

Need help picking out the right plants? Just visit our greenhouse team and we’d be happy to help you pick out the perfect flowers! Take a picture of your plant tags, too! Plant tags can actually provide some very helpful information.

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