Facebook is at its finest lately. It’s the season when gardeners share photos of what’s happening. Early tomatoes earn well-deserved bragging rights and perennial flowers are at their photogenic mid-summer peak.
When selecting perennials for flowerbeds and landscapes, it’s most rewarding to include a variety of types so something is blooming in spring, summer and fall, creating ever-changing interest during the growing season. Perennial flowers that bloom continuously from spring until fall haven’t yet been created.
Following are perennials that bloom at summer’s height.
Lily. True lilies, which have leaves spaced along an upright stem and grow from an underground bulb, are perhaps the most dramatic summer blooming perennial. There are several lily classifications, and all deserve a prime spot in the perennial garden. Asiatic lilies display perky, upward-facing flowers in many colors. Trumpet lilies exhibit huge, regal, horn-shaped blossoms with a heavenly fragrance. Breeders have even developed hybrids between lily species, such as the newer orienpet types.
Daylily. Although not true lilies, these hardy perennials have strap-shaped foliage that originates from a central crown arising from fleshy roots. There’s a color for everyone, and the newer hybrids are vast improvements over grandma’s daylilies, with vibrant shades and huge flower sizes and fascinating forms.
Phlox. Called tall garden phlox, or Phlox paniculata, these hardy perennials provide tall accents to the perennial flower garden in a rainbow of colors including white, pink, rose, lavender, purple, and two-tone. Older varieties are susceptible to foliage mildew diseases, which cause the leaves and stems to decline. Look for newer varieties that list disease resistance. A great cut flower for summer bouquets.
Shasta Daisy. Classic white daisies spell happiness wherever they’re planted. Look for newer, named hybrids which have larger blossoms, and heights specified for either tall or short locations.
Coneflower. Also called echinacea, these colorful perennials are pollinator and butterfly magnets. They’re not as long-lived as some perennial types, but well worth planting for their three or four-year span. Included on most lists of deer-resistant plants.
Rudbeckia. These bright, sun-colored perennials are nick-named black-eyed Susan. Great choices for the pollinator garden. Keep withered blossoms removed for extended flower production. Rabbit and deer resistant.
Monarda. Also known as bee balm, the colorful shades of red, rose, and lavender are available in tall and dwarf varieties. Older types are susceptible to foliage mildew diseases, so check label descriptions to locate disease resistant varieties.
Coreopsis. Low-growing mounds of yellow, pink or white are perfect additions to the flower garden edge.
Astilbe. Plant breeders have been busy, creating shades of pink, rose, red, lavender, purple and apricot. These feathery flower forms can be grown in shade or sun, and some varieties even have burgundy foliage.
Veronica. With spike-shaped flowers of lavender, purple, blue and pink, friendly bees and butterflies are sure to find them.
Perennial Geranium. The mound-shaped form fits well at the edge of flower gardens or landscapes. Although it resists rabbits, butterflies love it, and it can be grown in partial shade.
Hosta. No list of summer perennials would be complete without hosta. Best known for their colorful foliage, most types are best suited for shade or part shade. Label descriptions will indicate varieties that will tolerate sunshine. Some hosta varieties have beautiful, fragrant flowers well worth enjoying, while others have less-attractive stalks that can be removed as they form.
Do you have extra garden produce? North Dakota State University Extension Master Gardeners are once again collecting gardeners' excess vegetables to help feed the hungry. From the eight collection sites, Master Gardeners will haul the produce to Fargo's Emergency Food Pantry and Moorhead's Dorothy Day House.
Produce will be collected Mondays from July 26th to the first frost at the following locations:
Fargo: The Bowler, 2630 University Drive S.; Longfellow Recycle parking lot, 2939 Elm St. N.
West Fargo: Holy Cross Catholic Church, 2711 7th Ave. E.; Community Presbyterian Church, 702 Sheyenne St.
Horace, N.D.: In front of the water tower on Main Street.
Harwood, N.D.: Sheyenne Gardens, 17010 29th St. S.E.
Moorhead: Trinity Lutheran Church, 210 7th St. S.; The Village parking lot, 815 37th Ave. S.
Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at email@example.com.