If you want more flowers in your garden, and you want them fast, May-June is a great time to add new plants to your flowerbeds and pots. At this time of year, you can buy plants that are just about to come into flower and, after the last frosts, plant them straight out into the garden where they will romp away. But with so many plants to choose from, how do you know which are the easiest plants to grow and which will give you the most flowers?
We’ve chosen 10 plants that are easy to grow and will flower right through summer and into autumn – some will even give you year-round colour and interest. All of the plants are perennial, so if you plant them in May-June, you can look forward to flowers within weeks and for many summers to come. There are colours and shapes to suit every taste and every style of garden, and they’re all great for attracting bees and other pollinating insects to your garden.
If you’re looking to add some instant colour to your flowerbeds from June until the first frosts, penstemons are a great choice. Most varieties flower for months and are equally at home in the middle of a border or growing in a pot. The tubular flowers look like a small foxglove, they come in a range of colours and are popular with bees. Grow in full sun or partial shade. Penstemons are short-lived perennials that can suffer in cold, wet winters. Take summer cuttings to make new plants to replace any you lose over winter.
Height:60-90cm Spread: 50cm
Lavender is a fantastic all-rounder – it can be grown in pots or in the ground, it’s evergreen, with wonderfully fragrant leaves, fantastic for pollinators and suits different garden styles, from cottage gardens to contemporary schemes. English lavender and most hybrid types are hardy and can be left in the garden all year. French lavender is only frost hardy, so is best kept in containers and protected over winter. Grow lavender in full sun in well-drained soil. Cut back after flowering to prevent stems becoming woody.
Height: 50-80cm Spread: 60-90cm
Salvias really earn their keep in the garden. The great range of forms and colours ranging from electric blue to deep purple, crimson to yellow, makes them indispensable garden plants. The nectar-rich flowers are magnets for bumblebees and butterflies. There’s a great variety to choose from, including tender bedding salvias and hardy perennials that come back year after year. All of them thrive in full sun and most flower from mid-summer to autumn. If you have heavy soil, add gravel to the planting hole to aid drainage.
Height: 40cm-1.5m Spread: 30-50cm
When looking for plants for shade, you can’t go wrong with heucheras. Their leaves come in an array of vibrant colours from orange to purple, black to lime green, giving you almost year-round colour. And in summer, spikes of tiny flowers, often in contrasting shades to the leaves, add to their appeal. Great in pots or as groundcover plants for the front of a border.
Height: 25cm Spread: 35cm
If you want vibrant summer flowers that will keep blooming into autumn, the large, daisy-like flowers of heleniums are guaranteed to please. With blooms in hot yellows, orange and red, they look fantastic planted in drifts through a mixed border and can also be grown in pots. They combine well with ornamental grasses and other daisy flowers such as echinaceas and rudbeckias, and they are great for bees. Heleniums also make good cut flowers.
Height: 90cm Spread: 60cm
Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’
This is a beautiful, floriferous, woody-stemmed wallflower, bearing masses of purple flowers on tall spires, for months on end. In mild areas, it can flower virtually all year round. Grow Erysimum ‘Bowles’s’ Mauve’ in sun or partial shade. It’s a short-lived perennial, but is easily replaced with young plants made by taking cuttings.
Height: 45cm Spread: 50cm
Cranesbills, or hardy geraniums, are easy to grow, they thrive in shade and flower for months – many until the first frosts. They have saucer-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, white or blue. Hardy geraniums are fantastic for pollinators such as bees and hoverflies. Grow in sun or shade. Cut back after flowering to encourage a second flush of blooms.
Height: 20-50cm Spread: 30cm-1.2m
Hebes, or shrubby Veronicas, are low-maintenance, evergreen shrubs. They are excellent in shrub borders, used as ground cover or low-growing hedging – they make a great alternative to box plants. Pollinators love the spikes of small flowers that are produced in early summer. Varieties such as Hebe ‘Frozen Flame’ have leaves that turn purple from summer to winter, adding extra colour to your borders. Grow in full sun to partial shade.
Height: 50-1m Spread: 50-1m
Gaura are pretty, deciduous perennials, that look great in a cottage garden or prairie border. They have small starry flowers in white or pink, appearing from early summer right through to autumn. Their delicate stems are particularly useful for linking together other plants in a flowerbed, or they can be grown in containers. They tolerate partial shade.
Height: 50-90cm Spread: 50-60cm
Verbascums are stately perennials that are ideal for adding height and structure to planting schemes. Their elegant spires of summer flowers, in shades of pink, white, yellow, orange or even blue, look equally at home in a cottage garden or a manicured border. Grow in sun or partial shade. They are short-lived perennials, so it’s well worth propagating verbascums to get new plants for free.
Height: 70cm-1.5m Spread: 30-60cm