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The Right Plants for a Summer Garden in the Carolinas

Gardening continues to top the list of American hobbies. Research by Bigger Garden in 2023 found “approximately 55% of American households garden.” That’s around 71.5 million households and over 185 million people. Plus, “Of those gardeners, 18.3 million are new to the hobby.” Where you garden makes a difference to what you can successfully grow. This roundup shares suggestions of the best heat-hardy plants for a summer garden in the Carolinas.

Benefits of gardening

Gardening gets you outside and can help you meet your weekly goals for moderate activity. Being out in the sunshine and fresh air can help you de-stress and lower your blood pressure.

If you’re growing produce, you can also enjoy the health benefits of adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Plus, you get to sit outside and enjoy watching the progress of your bounty of blooms.

No matter what you plant, you may find gardening makes you happier overall. Those who work in communal gardens often enjoy better self-esteem and a greater sense of community.

Even if you’re weeding in the solitude of your own backyard, growing something is thought to help your outlook on life. As Gwenn Fried, manager of Horticulture Therapy at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation, puts it, “Growing something green, something real, something alive, is a hopeful thing to do.”

Planting your summer garden: Sunny areas

Avid gardeners want lush landscapes year round. That means you need some plants that can withstand steep summer temperatures in the Carolinas. Here are some popular options for the sunny spots in your garden:

  • Asiatic lilies: Enjoy big, showy flowers each year from this perennial grown from a bulb in full sun to partial shade. Deer like to snack on this one, though, so keep that in mind.
  • Zinnias: These fast-growing vibrant annuals can provide a burst of orange, yellow, or pink.
  • Succulents: Drought tolerant succulents are great for high heat and can also typically survive the milder winter weather in the Southeast.
  • Black-eyed Susan: Officially named Rudbeckia, these cheerful flowers are deer resistant and attract butterflies and bees.
  • Bee balm: This perennial also attracts pollinators and has fragrant leaves with clusters of pink to red flowers.
  • Lavender: Add this herbaceous perennial for a burst of purple in the summer months when lavender blooms in small spikes of pale flowers.
  • Yucca: Also called Spanish bayonet, the Yucca is native to North Carolina. This perennial grows in full sun and blooms mid-summer to attract butterflies with its large, creamy white flowers.
  • Crinum lilies: Best for moist soil, Crinum lilies thrive in humidity and heat. Their large, fragrant flowers bloom in late summer.
  • Phlox: A good choice for the beginner gardener, Phlox loves sun, blooms in the summer, and is known to be easy to care for and generally pest free.
  • Coneflowers: Native to South Carolina, Coneflowers come in many bright colors and enjoy full sun.
  • Crape myrtles: These fast-growing smaller, lower canopy trees can provide shade and color. The long-lasting blooms can come in many beautiful colors.

Summer garden in the Carolinas: Shaded areas

Even in the shade it can get hot in the summer season. These options can survive sweltering temperatures and don’t need you to find more sunny real estate in your garden. You might try:

  • Caladiums: A tropical foliage good for partial to full shade, caladiums have pink and green leaves.
  • Heuchera: Also known as coral bells, these evergreens come in a range of colors to fill out garden beds with rich hues.
  • Hosta: Good for a shade garden protected from deer, hostas are large, leafy plants that will flower in mid-summer with purple trumpet-shaped flowers.
  • Lenten rose: Also known as Hellebore, this is popular shady landscapes with poor-quality soil conditions. It’s showy pink and white flowers will bloom in early spring but the leaves are evergreen.
  • Fatsia japonica: Commonly known as a big-leaf paper plant, or fig leaf palm, these evergreens tolerate drought once established and grow better in shaded spots. If exposed to direct sun or wind, leaves will brown.

Other tips for your summer garden

Your plant choice isn’t the only seasonal consideration. Keep these other gardening tips in mind this summer if you’re living in North Carolina or South Carolina.

  • Fertilize: This is your last chance to fertilize until 2024. That’s because any new growth on your landscape plants may not have enough time to survive the first hard frost of the fall.
  • Prune: You can trees such as maple, birch, and elm trees, coniferous evergreens, and overgrown hedges this month. But then you’ll want to wait until cold weather comes to prune again. You might also remove faded blooms from perennials to encourage a second blooming.
  • Spray: Watch out for tomato blight and treat if necessary. Also, keep an eye out for insects on your other plants. If using pesticides, it’s a good idea to prefer organic solutions. Follow the instructions on the label before spraying.

Looking for the right place to grow your next garden? Saussy Burbank offers distinctive, high-quality homes in and around Charlotte, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach. Find out more today.

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