As the peak of summer approaches and fall gardening prep begins, you can still plan for a bountiful fall harvest. Keep your garden thriving with these vegetables, herbs, and flowers during late summer.
Know Your Average First Frost Date and Choose Hardy Plants
Before you begin planting your late summer plants, find the average first frost date in your area. Knowing frost dates can help determine if your plants will mature before the colder weather hurts them. Some hardy vegetables can tolerate some light frost and low temperatures.
For best results, refer to the information on seed packets for their ideal growing window and resistance to cold weather. Vegetable varieties can differ in their fall and winter hardiness.
Mid- or late-summer is not too late to start growing tasty herbs outside or by a sunny window. Although the heat can kill vulnerable herbs like cilantro, a few heat-tolerant herbs can thrive in bright and dry conditions.
- Basil: Basil plants love to soak in direct sunshine and can grow quickly when grown from seeds. Be sure to provide them with well-drained soil. Basil seeds can germinate 5-10 days and can be harvested in 60-80 days.
- Dill: Dill plants love sunny locations. They can take about 10-14 days to germinate and 40-55 days to harvest. Dill can be vulnerable to damage from transplanting. It prefers to take root in one location and stay there.
- Rosemary: Rosemary thrives in sunny environments but can also grow in cool weather. They can be tricky to grow from seed, so we recommend buying starter plants in containers for lower maintenance growing. Before the first frost, bring the pots indoors and place them by a sunny window.
- Thyme: Thyme prefers full sun environments and can thrive in the heat. When grown indoors, place it near a sunny window.
- Tarragon: French tarragon can suffer in hot environments but varieties like Spanish or Mexican tarragon are quite the opposite. Best of all, these perennial herbs keep coming back every year.
- Sage: This shrubby perennial prefers to be planted in full sun. It takes about 7-21 days to germinate and 80-90 days to harvest.
- Mint: Mint can be planted in late summer when the temperatures start to go down. It prefers indirect sunlight with some shade during the hot afternoon sun and moist soil. It can handle a light frost.
Annuals are plants that live for just a single season. Late summer planted annuals can be planted in mid-to late-August, as long as the temperatures aren’t high enough to cause heat stress in plants. Planting in containers can help your plants remain healthy throughout the season.
- Marigolds: Add a pop of color to your garden with vibrant marigolds. These annuals prefer full sun and are resistant to pests and deer. Since they grow small, they can be placed along the front edge of the flower bed. Just keep them away from dogs and cats since they can be toxic.
- Alyssum: These short annuals can grow throughout the fall and winter in areas that don’t get frost. They like it better in full sun locations and require regular watering but need well-draining soil.
- Celosia: Celosia is a beautiful annual that grows best in full sun and requires regular watering.
- Petunias: Petunias are a popular choice and can withstand full sunlight. Just watch out for aphids and mites. Using insecticidal soap can help.
- Coleus: Choose a coleus variety that thrives in full sun environments and does not require a lot of maintenance. If your leaves are starting to look dull, they are getting too much light. Coleus is toxic to dogs and cats.
- Buenos Aires verbena: Verbena loves the sun and can resist dry conditions. It can also attract bees and butterflies.
- Calendula: Calendulas seeds can be planted in September to flower around May. Plus, they can attract bees and butterflies.
- Purple hyacinth bean: This warm-season climber prefers the heat. Sow it now for a wonderful display in early- to mid-fall. Soak them for a day before planting.
- Zinnias: In warm soil, zinnias can germinate fast and can bloom in only one month after planting. Grow them in a sunny location. Seeds should sprout in about a week.
Late summer is an excellent time to plant drought-tolerant perennials for spring or early summer blooms. Late summer planted perennials can develop roots during the fall in preparation to flower the following year.
When planting perennials, make sure they get enough water, especially if your area is known to be extra hot and dry. Adding mulch can help retain the soil’s moisture. Consider planting these perennials during late summer.
- Dahlias: These long-flowering perennials can be planted in August in containers. You have tons of varieties to choose from in a range of heights. They can remain healthy until the first frost.
- Snapdragons: Snapdragons are technically perennials but have traits of annuals. They can attract pollinators and add color to your garden. If planted from seed, they won’t bloom until late May.
- Daffodils: Daffodils can be planted in September in full sun or part shade. These bulbs should bloom in spring.
- Sedums: Sedums are a good option to plant in August. Place them in a sunny area with well-drained soil. They can flower through the fall and provide nourishment for bees and butterflies late in the season.
There is still time to plant veggies late into the summer and harvest before the first frost. Root vegetables, leafy greens, and other vegetables can be planted from late June to August. Consider these late summer planted vegetables for your summertime garden.
- Beets: Go with the heat-resistant Beta vulgaris variety, a heritage beet known for handling summer temperatures well. Beets can mature in about 50 days.
- Broccoli: Plant broccoli about 85 days before the first frost, usually mid-to late-August. Fertilize after three weeks and ensure the soil remains moist and in a sunny location.
- Kale: This cold-hardy leafy green can be planted in late summer or early fall. It can be planted in August and mature in the fall.
- Carrots: Carrots can be planted from late July to early August, allowing you to harvest them in the fall.
- Brussel sprouts: Plant a second-season garden with Brussel sprouts. They can yield a harvest through the early winter. For best results, opt for a variety with a short growing season like Oliver, Royal Marvel, and Bubbles varieties that are ready for harvest in about 12 weeks.
- Collard greens: Collard green seeds can be planted about 8-12 weeks before the first frost. You can use cold frames or row covers to keep them growing through the snow.
- Cauliflower: Plant cauliflower in late August to early September, roughly six weeks before the first frost. Cauliflower can thrive in locations with about 6 hours of direct sunlight. If it gets too hot, though, provide cover to give it some shade.
- Onions: Cold-hardy onions are ideal for late summer planting. Plant them in areas with full sun exposure.
- Cucumbers: Start your cucumbers in August to have a great fall harvest. They are low maintenance and can survive temperatures below 60º F for short periods of time.
- Radishes: Full sun exposure and radishes go hand in hand. Radishes can be planted in two-week intervals for a continuous harvest.
- Spinach: Spinach loves locations with total sun exposure and menial shade. Plant spinach in early August if the soil isn’t too hot.
Late Summer Lawn Care
Caring for your lawn during the summer can help it stay healthy year-round. Consider these tips during late summer to keep your garden looking bright and colorful.
- Water in the morning: Water your lawn from 6-10 a.m., when temperatures are the coolest. Early-morning water can give your lawn the hydration it needs for the day. Watering at night can keep the leaves damp for longer, increasing the risk of a fungal infection.
- Keep your mower blade sharp: A dull mower blade can tear grass, leaving behind ragged leaves instead of clean cuts. Mowing your lawn with a dull blade can lead to lawn discoloration, increase the risk of diseases, and make your grass less resistant to the summer heat, dryness, and pests.
- Remove weeds: Pull out any pesky weeds and use a spray-on weed killer to keep them from growing back.
- Fertilize grass: Warm-season grasses such as Centipede grass, Zoysia grass, Bermudagrass, Bahia grass, St. Augustine, and Carpet grass grow best when applying fertilizer in the late summer.
Wilco Farm Stores: For All Your Late Summer Planting Needs
Prepare for a successful late fall or early winter harvest with Wilco Farm Stores. We’ve got the right gardening supplies and seeds you need to keep your garden going strong from mid-summer to the first fall frost and beyond.