16 Popular Perennials You Can Still Plant in July

Just because July is here, doesn't mean you can't make some changes in your garden by adding a few new perennials. There are plenty of options, regardless of the type of space you need to fill. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago hand picks her favorite perennials that you can still plant in the month of July!

In most parts of the United States, your July garden is in the full swing of summer. Some gardens will start to get a little tired, and you’ve likely stepped up your watering frequency due to the increased heat and longer summer days. But what happens when you want to replace a few plants in your garden? Can you plant some new perennial plants in July?

Not only can you plant in July, but it can be one of the best summer months to liven up your garden. Most gardeners are not planting from seed at this time of year. But there’s no reason not to pick up a few of your favorite perennials as transplants from a local nursery in order to replace dying plants that may not have performed as you expected.

While fall or spring are the ideal times for planting, there are still some perennials that are safe to add in July. Continue reading for some summer planting tips, as well as some perennial recommendations to add to your garden in July. Let’s dig in!

Summer Planting Tips

gardener planting Phlox flowers
If you plan to do gardening in July, it’s best to do planting in the evening.

No matter what you are planting, the recommendation is to plant in the spring or the fall because the temperatures tend to be cooler, and water is more readily available in the soil. But, if you are itching to get some plants in the ground in July there are a few precautions I would suggest that will help your plants get off to a good start.

Planting Time

Because the July sun is so warm, opt for doing your gardening and planting in the evening. This will give your plants time to soak up some water before the morning sun and the heat of the following day.

Watering Frequency

Water your plants while they are still in their nursery pot and you are prepping your garden and digging your holes. This will help cut down on the risk of transplant shock. Once your plant is in the ground, water it again.

Because it is so warm in July your plants will need supplemental watering, this goes for established plants as well as newly planted perennials. If you are not sure if your plant is receiving enough water, you can always stick your finger into the soil- it should be moist but not soaked, and also not dry.

Astilbe

Astilbe sp
Astilbe prefers humus-rich, fertile, moisture-intensive soil and partial shade.
Scientific Name: Astilbe sp.
  • Plant Size: 1-4 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

Astilbe plants are a favorite perennial plant of shade gardeners. They have colorful spiky flowers and lacelike leaves. Add astilbe to your shade gardens to add a pop of long lasting color. Astilbe performs well in full shade, but their flowers will benefit from some morning sunshine.

With over 20 different varieties of astilbe in almost every color of the rainbow there is a astilbe for every garden. There are some larger varieties that grow to over three feet that would be great in the middle of a perennial garden, or some of the shorter ones make a nice edge plant.

Bee Balm

Monarda didyma
Bee Balm needs frequent but moderate watering, especially during the hot season.
Scientific Name: Monarda didyma
  • Plant Size: 4 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

Bee balm is a classic garden plant. It is a member of the mint family, and is quite hardy. It’s easily grown from seed or from nursery containers. You can find bee balm in bright shades of red, pink or purple. Growing to four feet, these wildflowers would be pretty on its own in a large swath, or in the back of a perennial garden.

These plants are not technically invasive, but they will spread a bit so be sure to give them space, or choose a large empty space where you don’t mind. Deadheading the flowers will help to prevent them from self seeding, and will promote more flowering throughout the season.

Blanket Flower

Gaillardia x grandiflora
Blanket Flower Regular abundant watering Blanket Flower requires only during dry and hot periods.
Scientific Name: Gaillardia x grandiflora
  • Plant Size: 2 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-10

Blanket flower, or gaillardia, is an easy to grow perennial that prefers full sunlight, heat and poor soil. This plant has been hybridized repeatedly, giving us gardeners many color options but you may be familiar with their bright red, orange or yellow flowers.

Blanket flowers will rebloom for you all season long with or without deadheading. The only downside to this perennial is that it may be short-lived, so be prepared to plant new blanket flowers in a few years because this is a plant you are sure to love.

Blazing Star

Liatris spicata
Blazing Star is an unpretentious plant, that prefers to grow in well-lit places.
Scientific name: Liatris spicata
  • Plant Size: 2-4 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

Blazing star, also commonly referred to as liatris, or gayfeather, is a pretty purple plant that is native to North America. These plants have a grasslike foliage with tall purple spikes of flowers that are actually made up of tiny star shaped flowers.

There are varieties of blazing star in shades of white and red as well but purple is the true Blazing star is an easy to care for perennial and is tolerant of most growing conditions, as long as it is getting enough sun.

You can find blazing star in nursery pots at your local garden center, and also as corms. Corms are similar to bulbs, but they behave in different ways. Corms are dormant portions of stems that will produce shoots and roots. Blazing star is also native to North America, which is good news for gardeners that prefer native wildflowers.

Blue Fescue

Festuca glauca
Blue Fescue is easy to care for and provides a shade for a decorative flower bed.
Scientific Name: Festuca glauca
  • Plant Size: 6-12 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

Blue fescue is a great little ornamental grass that has many uses in the garden. Its foliage is a pretty silvery blue adding a nice softness to perennial gardens. Blue fescue is drought tolerant, making this a great plant to add to your summer garden.

You can plant blue fescue by seeding or find it in gallon pots at your local garden center. This is a low maintenance perennial and doesn’t require much else from you other than mulch. As with most ornamental grasses, blue fescue will benefit from division every few years.

Because this is such a small grass, you can divide your blue fescue by digging it out of the ground and cutting it in half with scissors or garden shears. There are a few varieties of blue fescue available, my favorite being ‘Elijah Blue’.

Catmint

Nepeta sp
Catmint is a perennial plant that prefers to grow on stony, dry soil.
Scientific Name: Nepeta sp.
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet, some species are larger
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Nepeta, also known as catmint, is an easy to care for, sun loving perennial. The foliage of catmint is a soft silver,  and the spiky long blooming flowers  are a pretty shade of purple. This plant makes a beautiful border, but it is also a really great plant to pop into your full sun perennial garden.

Catmint attracts pollinators and will keep your bumble bees happy all summer long. Nepeta can tolerate some drought once it is established in your garden. It can also tolerate some partial shade, but the plant size and blossoms will be much larger in the full sun.

Foamflower

Tiarella sp
Foamflowers need regular watering in the summer, especially if recently transplanted.
Scientific Name: Tiarella sp.
  • Plant Size: 1 foot
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

This is  a great easy to grow ground cover for the shade. This perennial spreads quickly  through runners. Runners are sort of like underground branches that come from the crown of the plant and branch out. The best part about this plant is the plentiful flowers which are white, and yes, look like foam.

They appear in the late springtime amidst mounds of green foliage that will last all season long. In warmer climates the foliage is evergreen and offers a pretty bronze color to your fall gardens. These flowers and their pretty foliage pair well with hostas, and many other shade perennials. This is also a great perennial to plant under trees in a woodland setting.

Garden Phlox

Phlox paniculata
Garden Phlox grows well both in the sun and in partial shade.
Scientific name: Phlox paniculata
  • Plant Size: 3-5 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

Garden phlox, also known as tall phlox, are very pretty low maintenance plants with clusters of brightly colored flowers. Keep these summer bloomers in the sun to help prevent powdery mildew, which won’t harm the plant but can take away from the beauty a bit.

In warmer climates garden phlox can tolerate a bit more shade. These flowers come in white, pinks, and purples. These colors are vibrant. The foliage of these plants is nice, but nothing special unless you purchase a variegated leaf variety such as ‘Nora Leigh’.

Deadhead your garden phlox to keep the blooms coming. Aside from deadheading, these plants really don’t  need much more from you other than typical watering. Overwatering can lead to powdery mildew.

Hardy Geranium

Geranium bohemicum
Hardy Geraniums are highly resistant to pests and diseases, and have low maintenance requirements.
Scientific Name: Geranium bohemicum
  • Plant Size: 2 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Hardy geraniums, also known as cranesbill or perennial geraniums, are low growing flowering perennials. The foliage is a gorgeous true green with pretty cut leaves which can vary depending on your chosen variety.

The flowers may be purple, pink, or white and look similar to the annual geranium you may be familiar with. Geranium loves full to partial sun, making it very versatile in your gardens. Geraniums are a foolproof garden perennial that requires little maintenance and really are self sufficient once established.

Hollyhocks

Alcea rosea
Hollyhock is a perennial plant that is usually grown as an annual or biennial.
Scientific Name: Alcea rosea
  • Plant Size: 3-8 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

If hollyhocks is not the ultimate cottage garden plant then I don’t know what is. These tall flowers make the perfect addition to the back of your garden. Hollyhocks comes in a rainbow of colors making it a great fit no matter what your color scheme may be.

The only downside to this plant is that it is a short lived perennial, meaning it may not live beyond two or three years. Hollyhocks are easily grown from seed, which should be done in the spring.

However, they are also available in bareroot form, as well as in nursery pots. These beauties bloom in mid-summer, so if you get them in the ground in early July you may still be able to enjoy the show this year!

Lamb’s Ear

Stachys byzantina
‘Lamb’s Ear’ leaves are oblong-elliptical, densely pubescent with silvery hairs.
Scientific name: Stachys byzantina
  • Plant Size: 18 inches
  • Sun exposure: full to partial sun
  • Plant zone: 4-9

Lamb’s ear is a really nice choice for a ground cover in your perennial gardens. Most gardeners will choose lamb’s ear for its foliage which is a soft silver. The flowers of lambs ear are purple  spikes.

You can leave the flowers, but if you cut them back it will encourage more foliage growth. This is a very low maintenance plant once it is established, the only takeaway is to keep the leaves of this plant dry or they will rot.

Pachysandra

Pachysandra terminalis
Pachysandra does not require much care, and is tolerant of almost any soil type.
Scientific name: Pachysandra terminalis
  • Plant Size: 6 inches
  • Sun exposure: Full to partial shade
  • Plant zone: 4-8

Pachysandra is a lush green ground cover that is known for its ability to spread and create a nice blanket of foliage with tiny white flowers beneath the canopy of a tree. You will find these plants sold at your garden center in flats of about 24 plants.

When you bring this flat home carefully break the plants apart as they have likely rooted together and already begin their spreading process. Plant these little guys about 6 inches to one foot apart, don’t worry they will fill in the gaps in about one growing season.

These are great plants to use under trees because their roots will not interfere with the tree roots. Keep them watered and moist through the first growing season and you will be rewarded with low maintenance plants in the future.

Perennial Sunflower

Helianthus sp
Perennial sunflowers are from the same species as the annual varieties, but they rebloom each season.
Scientific name: Helianthus angustifolius
  • Plant Size: species dependent, 3 feet to 10 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant zone: 4-8

If you love the classic annual sunflower, you will love any of the species of perennial sunflower. These flowering perennials are multi stemmed with many flowers, but will still come in the classic varieties of yellow that you would expect from a sunflower.

Perennial sunflowers grow well in poor soil and are tough plants. These flowers will bloom in mid to late summer and last through the fall.

Russian Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia
Russian Sage produces small purple flowers, prefers full sun.
Scientific name: Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Russian sage is a great drought tolerant plant that has a very long bloom period lasting from summer through the fall. This fast grower produces purple flowers that are almost blue. They are spiked flowers that sit on top of pretty silver foliage.

These plants can reach up to five feet in height. Be careful of planting Russian sage in the shade. It really needs full sun, or it will begin to flop and get leggy. Once these plants reach full height you may want to use some sort of support to keep it upright. Pruning is required in the fall or spring. To encourage more bushy growth cut the plants back to one foot in height.

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium
Yarrow will need regular watering only if the summer is dry.
Scientific name: Achillea millefolium
  • Plant size: 2-3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant zone: 3-9

Yarrow is a really lovely wildflower that is just as tough as it is pretty. This perennial is very tolerant of poor soil, and some drought making it a great choice for a summertime planting. Yarrow comes in many colors ranging from yellow to pink. The foliage is feathery, and almost has a fernlike look to it. Plant yarrow in a butterfly garden to help attract pollinators.

This plant is considered invasive in some areas, so do some research on the type of yarrow you choose so you don’t push out the other plants in your garden. Another option is to plant yarrow in an area where you don’t mind it taking over and enjoy every little flower!

Final Thoughts

Do not be afraid to plant perennials in the heat of the summer. Just remember to follow the few tips that I mentioned above, and be patient! Any one of these perennials can brighten up your garden, regardless if you are planting for full sun, or partial shade. Most plants are very resilient and only require a little bit of extra help to get them on their way!

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