25 Summer Plants to Add to Your Garden This Season

best summer garden plants

Finding Lovely

Springtime is all about getting your garden in the ground—but that doesn't mean the planting fun stops when the heat hits. You can keep planting fruits, veggies, and flowers into early summer and seed fall crops in late summer, too. From asters to zinnias, these are the 25 best summer plants you can grow this season.

01 of 25

Beans

closeup of bush beans growing on vine with leaves and flowers

brytta/Getty images

  • Botanical Name: Phaseolus vulgaris
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 6.2

Wait to plant beans until all danger of frost has passed in your region—ideally, soil temps will be at least 60 degrees. Because their roots are delicate, it's best to direct sow pole beans and bush beans. Be sure to provide a trellis for pole beans, which need support to climb as they grow.

02 of 25

Basil

closeup of glossy green basil leaves in garden

DIMITRIS MELETIS/GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 7.0

Summer's best-loved herb thrives in warm, frost-free weather. Plant it along with your tomatoes once all danger of frost has passed. Pinch back the tips of young plants to encourage branching and bushier, fuller growth.

03 of 25

Tomatoes

basket of red and yellow tomatoes on patio with garden and watering can in background

Frederic Didillon/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Solanum lycopersicum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.2 - 6.5

Those in cooler climates might be tempted to plant their tomatoes as soon as daytime temperatures warm up, but chilly nights and spring cold snaps can nip your juicy tomato dreams in the bud. Just remember—don't plant to-MAY-toes until May at the earliest in colder regions.

04 of 25

Eggplant

Vegetable garden with eggplant. The eggplants are very large and purple

tc397/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Solanum melongena
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 7.2

Another member of the Solanum genus along with potatoes and tomatoes, eggplants love hot summer weather. Because these plants need rich soil to thrive, add compost to the soil about a week before you put them in the ground. Install stakes or tomato cages when planting to give your young plants the support they need as they grow.

05 of 25

Cucumber

A closeup of a large, organic cucumber being harvested by hand.

TommL/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Cucumis sativus 
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 7.0

As long as all danger of frost has passed, you can plant cucumbers—whether transplants or seeding directly into the soil. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season, as mini-droughts can make the cucumbers taste bitter.

06 of 25

Okra

Yellow and red okra flower with green stem, leaves, and okra pods in garden

Daniela Duncan/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Abelmoschus esculentus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 6.8

Heat-loving okra is a relative of hibiscus, offering beautiful blooms to enjoy before the plants fruit. Harvest the pods when they're between two and four inches long—any bigger and they tend to have a tough, woody texture—and fry, saute, stew, or pickle them.

07 of 25

Marigolds

bright orange and red marigolds growing against green leaves and stems

MAHANTESH BIRADAR/EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Tagetes
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.5

Cheery marigolds make beautiful bedding plants, but they play an important role in the vegetable garden. Plant them along with crops like tomatoes, eggplants, squash, and cucumbers—it's thought that they help protect your veggies from pests.

08 of 25

Cantaloupe

cantaloupes growing with vines and flowers in garden, a white person's hand is picking one up

tchara/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Cucumis. melo var. reticulatus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 6.5

Few fruits are as satisfying—or easy—to grow yourself as cantaloupe (also called muskmelon). Make sure these spreading plants have plenty of room to grow, or provide a tall, sturdy trellis for their vines to climb.

09 of 25

Zinnias

Assortment of pink, purple, and red zinnias in a flower patch

glennimage/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Zinnia elegans
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 7.5

Bright and colorful, zinnias make a great addition to summer flower beds, cutting gardens, and borders on paths or veggie gardens. They're long-blooming, drought-tolerant, and quite easy to grow, too.

10 of 25

Hibiscus

bright pink hibiscus flower with yellow stamen covered in water droplets with green leaves in garden

HEIKE RICHTER, NEW ZEALAND/GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-draining soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 - 6.8

These tropical beauties naturally grow in hot, humid climates, making them great for summertime planting. In temperate climates, plant them in containers so you can bring them indoors and overwinter them until the following spring.

11 of 25

Hot Peppers

long, curly red chili peppers growing on plants in garden with green leaves

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  • Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 6.8

It makes sense that hot peppers would love hot temperatures, right? These Central American natives thrive in the summer sun. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings, but keep an eye out for flower drop, which indicates that the plant isn't getting enough water.

12 of 25

Coneflower

purple coneflower plants in outdoor garden

JACKY PARKER PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Echinacea spp.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 - 7.2

Known for its purported immune-boosting properties, coneflower also makes a great addition to your flower garden. These colorful blooms attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, too.

13 of 25

Summer Squash

yellow summer squash plants on ground with stems and yellow flowers underneath leaves

Steve Cicero/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Cucurbita pepo
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Loamy, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 6.5

Also called yellow squash or crookneck squash, summer squash has a mild, refreshing, and slightly sweet flavor. Direct seed them once all danger of frost has passed. As with cucumbers, water the soil directly and keep the leaves from getting wet to stave off powdery mildew.

14 of 25

Cowpeas

mix of tan, pink, yellow and green cowpea pods on ground

Kiran Thakur/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Vigna unguiculata
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Sandy, loamy well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 6.5

Cowpeas or field peas love hot temperatures and bright sun. Pick them when the pods are around four inches long and eat them whole, or leave them on the plant to ripen more fully for use as a shelling bean. Leave the pods on the plants for another month or so to fully dry out if you'd like to store them as dried beans.

15 of 25

Winter Squash

harvested orange honeynut and dark green acorn squash in sunlight

Barbara Rich

  • Botanical Name: Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita pepo
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 7.0

Winter squashes like butternut, honeynut, acorn, kabocha, pumpkins, and kuri love warm temperatures, unfurling their long, trailing vines as they grow—so be sure to give them lots of space. As fruits form, place something underneath the squashes like a stone or brick to keep them from rotting on the vine.

16 of 25

Sweet Potatoes

red sweet potatoes just harvested on dark brown soil surrounded by green sweet potato leaves

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  • Botanical Name: Ipomoea batatas
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.0 - 6.5

Yes, you can grow your very own sweet potatoes! Purchase sweet potato slips, or sprouts, and about a month until after the last frost to plant them, as they're very sensitive to cold. Harvest and cook small amounts of the edible greens as you wait for the tubers to fatten up in early fall.

17 of 25

Lantana

bright red and yellow lantana flowers in green bush outdoors

FAUSTINO CARMONA GUERRERO/EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES

  • Botanical Name: Lantana camara
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 6.5

Just because spring is over doesn't mean you can't plant flowers! Choose a cool, overcast summer day to plant a lantana shrub in your garden. They make great statement plants, set apart from bedding plants to adorn your garden on their own.

18 of 25

Malabar Spinach

shiny green malabar spinach leaves with dark red stems and tiny pink flowers

daoleduc/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Basella alba or Basella ruba
  • Sun Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Soil Type:  Rich, moist soil
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 8.0

Native to tropical Southeast Asia, this heat-loving vine can be grown as an annual in temperate climates. It's an excellent cooking green, with shiny green foliage and bright red stems. Be sure to provide it with a sturdy trellis or other support to climb.

19 of 25

Asters

purple and yellow aster flowers with green stems and leaves in garden

Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Symphyotrichum
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Loamy, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 5.8 - 6.5

Plant colorful, late-blooming aster varieties in summer to get beautiful blooms all the way through fall's first frost. These daisy-like plants bloom when days begin to shorten in fall. They're perennials, so choose a planting spot where you won't mind them coming back year after year.

20 of 25

Brown-Eyed Susan

closeup of bright yellow brown-eyed susan flowers with brown centers and green leaves in background

Timothy Carroll/EyeEm/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Rudbeckia hirta
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.8 - 7.7

Bold, bright brown-eyed susans are a low-maintenance, easy-growing addition to any flower garden. Once they've established, simply deadhead spent blooms to keep the plants looking fresh and promote new growth.

21 of 25

Beets

white person's hand pulling up dirt-covered beet with red stems and green leaves from dry brown soil with spade nearby

Mint Images/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Beta vulgaris
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type:  Loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.2 - 6.8

As you make your summer planting plans, don't forget to think ahead to fall. To get another round of cool-weather crops like beets from your garden, direct-seed in mid-to-late summer once night temperatures have begun to cool off.

22 of 25

Collard Greens

overhead view of leafy collard green plants in garden with moist brown soil below

Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala
  • Sun Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.5 - 6.8

Like its close relatives kale and cabbage, collard greens can be planted in spring or fall. Sow seeds directly into the soil in midsummer, about two months before your region's last frost date. You may want to cover the plants with a floating row cover to protect them from pests like harlequin beetles, which tend to be more persistent in summer than in early spring.

23 of 25

Broccoli

closeup of small broccoli head growing on stem surrounded by long green leaves in garden

ZenShui/Laurence Mouton/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea var. italica 
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained, loamy soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 7.0

Broccoli loves the cool shoulder seasons of spring and fall. For a late-season crop, seed in July or August, then harvest when the heads are about the size of your fist—any later and the tightly-packed buds will begin to open. If winters are mild in your region, you can also sow in the fall for a spring harvest.

24 of 25

Cauliflower

closeup of white head of cauliflower growing in garden surrounded by long, wavy green leaves

tc397/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 7.0

Cauliflower is another cool-season plant that can go in the ground in early spring or late summer. Shoot to plant seedlings about two months before your last frost date for a fall crop—ideally, daytime temperatures will be below 75 degrees. For colder climates, look for varieties that mature in just two months, since the plants can be damaged by frost.

25 of 25

Spinach

overhead view of shiny green spinach leaves growing in garden soil

lisalson/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name:  Spinacia oleracea
  • Sun Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Soil Type: Well-drained soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0 - 7.0

When the days start getting shorter in late summer, cheer yourself up by planting fall crops like spinach. Direct seed spinach varieties about two months before your first fall frost date, then plan to harvest four to six weeks later. In temperate climates, you can keep sowing seeds into the fall so the plants will overwinter for you to harvest in spring.

Article Sources
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  1. Aucoin M, Cooley K, Saunders PR, et al. The Effect of Echinacea Spp. on the Prevention or Treatment of COVID-19 and Other Respiratory Tract Infections in Humans: A Rapid ReviewAdvances in Integrative Medicine. 2020;7(4):203-217. doi:10.1016/j.aimed.2020.07.004

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