Molly Peach-Dancing In Flower Fields

The Best Plants for Summer Gardens

For the past two summers, I worked in the annual section of a gardening centre and learned a lot about plants and gardening, like the different types of flowers such as annuals, which are flowers that don’t come back after the winter and need to be bought again, and perennials, which are flowers that will come back year after year. If working at a garden centre has taught me anything, it’s that there are popular flowers, and then there are favourite flowers. So here’s my list of annual flower favourites that people love to buy for their summer gardens, plus two of my own personal favourites and some gardening tips.

Gardening tip: It’s best to water your plants and flowers first thing in the morning before it gets hot! This way the plant can suck up all the water without losing some of it to the heat.


Geraniums are the #1 favourite flower for summer gardens. These flowers like full-sun and some shade, so they’re not picky about placement. They have long stems with multiple buds of flowers at each head, and beautiful large, circular leaves with a deep green colour that curve up at the edges. They come in a multitude of colours: red, pink, white, purple, and salmon, and can also grow to be pretty tall, about one to two feet.


Impatiens have dark green leaves and the most delicate petals. These are the most popular annual flowers for shady summer gardens as these flowers do not like the sun. Their leaves and flowers can actually burn if they’re put in even partial sunlight. They lay pretty low to the ground, but can grow in height over time. These also come in multiple colours: white (the most popular), pink, red, purple, salmon, and orange.

Gardening tip: To ensure you’ve watered your plants enough, follow this rule: count to three while watering them, then stop. Once all the water has been soaked up by the soil, water them again while counting to three once more. That should be enough water for the day! If it’s an especially hot day, check the soil when you get home from work or in the mid-afternoon, and if it’s bone-dry, give them another watering, counting to three only once. 


Petunias are a full sun flower. Their trumpet-shaped petals love to face the sky and soak up all those rays! Their max height is one foot tall, and it is imperative that these flowers are not overwatered. If they are, their thin, delicate petals will begin to rot, so if there’s a heavy rain one day, just keep an eye on them. Petunias come in white, purple, red, pink, yellow, salmon, and black, more often than not with multi-coloured petals, like purple with white specks, red and yellow stripes, and pink outer petals with a white center. 

Gardening tip: You can also check to see if your potted plants need water by touching the soil or lifting the pot. If the pot is light, it needs more water, and if it’s heavy, then it’s probably fine (and trust me, you’ll be able to tell if it’s too light or heavy).


Celosia is one of my favourite annual flowers because they have such a different look to them. These plants form clusters of their bright flowers that almost look like tiny, brightly-coloured pine trees. They are soft to the touch, and can have red-tinged or bright green leaves. They love sun, but can also handle partial shade, and they’ll grow to a max of three feet tall. They come in orange, red, yellow, purple, and dark pink (I personally love the purple and yellow ones). 


Coleus technically doesn’t have any flowers, but I love it because its leaves are so diverse, and they make a great addition to any summer garden. These prefer shade, but can deal with some sun, and they don’t get very tall. Their leaves are large and come in the most wonderful colours like bright green, rusty orange, purple centers with green edges, a deep red, and a purple so dark it almost looks like navy blue.

Gardening tip: It’s important to deadhead your flowers after a rainy day, or when you start to notice that the flowering head is past its prime. This means lightly snapping or plucking the dead or dying flowering buds and leaves off. This will ensure the plant stays healthy, and a new bud can then grow in its place! Each type of flower has a different point on the plant where it’s supposed to be plucked or snapped, so make sure you Google this before trying it out!

So get out there and have some fun in the sun with your summer gardens!