What to Plant in August

What to plant in August-a row of sedum plants covered in clusters of tiny purple flowers.
My Garden Life
June 5, 2023
Table of Contents

August is a great month for enjoying the blooms and bounty of your gardening efforts earlier in the season. It’s not too late to expand your plantings or replace annual flowers that may be looking tired. We have tips for what to plant in August to keep your garden flourishing.

In general, August isn’t a prime month for putting new plants in the ground. However, there are still some options for starting cold-hardy plants from seed, or purchasing seedlings for transplanting, thus extending your harvests and blooms deep into the fall.

In the sections below, we’ll highlight some veggies and flowers that are viable late-summer options throughout many North American growing regions.

Planting in August: General Recommendations

August is a challenging month to start new plantings. Some seedlings won’t survive the intense summertime heat. Others won’t be able to grow quickly enough to make blooms or fruits before the winter frosts begin.

To pick August-friendly veggies or flowers, start by learning your region’s estimated first frost date. That tells you how many days of growth you can expect before freezing temperatures put an end to (most of) your summer harvests and blooms. Additionally, know your USDA hardiness zone and select plants that are recommended for your zone.

Once you know your expected first frost date and hardiness zone, select plants that grow quickly enough to mature prior to that date and/or are cold hardy enough to survive light frosts. Your best options will be varieties that possess both of these traits.

After you’ve made your choices and put your seeds or transplants in the ground, take extra care to guide your seedlings through the intense August heat.

Water frequently. The best time of day for summer watering is the morning. That way, plants have enough moisture to endure the day’s heat. Watering in the afternoon leads to fast evaporation, while evening watering has the opposite problem—excessive overnight dampness can lead to harmful fungal growth.

Flowers to Plant in August

August isn’t a bad month for starting flowers, but it’s a delicate balance. If your region experiences extreme heat, then you may need to hold off until summer’s peak has passed. On the other hand, planting too late may mean that your flowers never get to bloom before the first frosts arrive and put an end to new growth.

Your best bet is to choose heat-tolerant plants and start with transplants, rather than seeds. That way, you’ll reduce the risk of heat damage, and you’ll enjoy blooms sooner rather than later.

Annual Flowers to Plant in August

Here are a few of the best annual flowers to put in the ground in August:

Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)

Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)

Pansies have been a garden favorite since the first hybrid varieties were developed from wild Viola species back in the 1800’s in England. The charming flat-faced flowers and array of colors continue to make pansies a popular choice for garden beds or container plantings. Pansies enjoy cooler temperatures and can be planted earlier in the spring than most other flowering annual plants. Also a good choice for baskets, pots, and window boxes. Wonderful for combination plantings.
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

This old-fashioned favorite is sure to attract attention. Snapdragons bring bright colors to cool season gardens. They bloom all summer and tolerate frost. Cut flowers are long-lasting in fresh bouquets. The perfect choice for beds and borders. Looks great in rock gardens. Perfect for all kinds of containers. Wonderful for combination plantings.
Hybrid Marigold (Tagetes hybrid)

Hybrid Marigold (Tagetes hybrid)

Marigolds bring a non-stop burst of sunny bright blooms to the garden all summer long. Their texture is the perfect compliment to broad leaf and trailing companion plants. Removing spent blooms will assure the most prolific flowering. A great choice for beds and borders. Also superb for baskets, containers and window boxes.
Lantana (Lantana )

Lantana (Lantana )

Lantana are native to several tropical regions and popular as heat tolerant annuals for gardens and containers. Their clusters of tiny blooms come in a good range of colors and are loved by butterflies. They may be upright or trailing, depending on variety chosen, but all have nicely textured foliage and good drought tolerance. The perfect choice for beds and borders. Superb for baskets, containers and window boxes. Looks great in rock gardens.
Wax Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)

Wax Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)

A tried and true garden favorite! Wax Begonia’s beauty and reliable performance make them a “must-have” for most gardeners. Begonias adapt to a wide range of conditions and can be grown in the garden, patio containers, or even indoors if given a bright location. With green and burgundy-red leaf forms available and a many flower-color options, the creative possibilities are huge.
Zinnia (Zinnia marylandica)

Zinnia (Zinnia marylandica)

Features

A very disease and heat resistant species of Zinnia. providing bright color and rich texture to any planting. Removal of spent blooms will assure the most prolific and ongoing floral display.

Uses

The perfect choice for beds and borders. Superb for baskets, containers and window boxes. Wonderful for combination plantings. Provides long lasting cut flowers.
Petunia (Petunia hybrid)

Petunia (Petunia hybrid)

Petunias are a classic choice among annuals for their bold, trumpet blooms in a range of single-hued, striped and white-rimmed colors. Plant them en masse for a dramatic burst of color or mix into combinations needing a bit of brightness. The perfect choice for beds and borders. Superb for baskets, containers and window boxes.

Perennials to Plant in August

You can still plant sun-tolerant perennials in August. Late summer is also a good time to start a perennial shade garden, since plants in shady areas will suffer less heat and water stress than ones in full sun. Consider filling your shady areas with hostas.

These clump-forming perennials are ideal for August planting:

Hens and Chicks Indoors (Sempervivum species)

Hens and Chicks Indoors (Sempervivum species)

Features

Natives of Africa and Europe, hens and chicks maybe be one of the most popular succulents among indoor gardeners. These plants form parent rosettes of leaves in a variety of colors depending on the type. These are the hens, which are soon surrounded by smaller rosettes, the chicks—a family grouping that can spread up to two feet if provided the room. The chicks can easily be re-rooted in their own pots and will soon start to grow their own broods of hardy and attractive indoor succulents.

Uses

Perfect for all kinds of containers, dish gardens, and terrariums. Likes lots of sunlight. A south or west-facing window is ideal. Makes a great gift plant especially for those inexperienced with houseplants.
Sedum, Stonecrop ‘Autumn Charm™’ (Sedum hybrid)

Sedum, Stonecrop ‘Autumn Charm™’ (Sedum hybrid)

Features

Distinctive, variegated foliage and long lasting blooms that change color as the season progresses make this a real stand-out selection! The semi-domed flower heads are extremely nectar rich, which makes them irresistible to butterflies. A generally robust, low maintenance plant that creates a definite “Wow” factor and easy color for the garden landscape. U.S. Plant Patent #14,421.

Uses

Classic plants for rock gardens! Makes a dependable mixed border plant. Combines beautifully with small ornamental grasses. Terrific plant for butterfly gardens.
Coreopsis (Coreopsis species)

Coreopsis (Coreopsis species)

Features

This is a plant group for every gardener’s wish-list. Coreopsis are available in a wide range of sizes and growth habits and their incredible tolerance for just about any sunny location makes them one of the most carefree plants around. Low-growing species are ideal for rock gardens, seasonal groundcover and mixed borders. Taller species are excellent in mixed borders, cut-flower gardens, or turned loose in naturalized areas where they readily reseed themselves. Remove faded blooms to extend the flowering season.

Uses

Ideal choice for beds, borders, and cutting gardens. Wonderful for rock gardens and containers. Cut flowers are long-lasting in fresh bouquets.
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

Black-eyed Susan is a hardy North American native plant capable of thriving in just about any sunny location. The cheerful yellow flowers are excellent for cut arrangements. Bees and butterflies flock to the blooms and birds enjoy the seed heads after the flowers fade. Old blooms may also be removed to encourage more flowers. A great choice for naturalized areas.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly weed’s brilliant orange flowers attract butterflies and other beneficial pollinators to the garden. Butterfly weed, also known as orange milkweed, is a native perennial plant that can be found growing in prairies, fields, and along roadways over a wide range of North America. The only Asclepias species to have clear sap and alternate leaves. Perfectly suited to informal, naturalized settings or flower borders.
Ornamental Grass

Ornamental Grass

Ornamental grasses are a gardener’s dream! They offer a perfect combination of dramatic form, low maintenance, and year-round interest, all available in a wide range of colors, sizes and textures. Grasses also add a dimension of sound and movement to the garden as the long, loose foliage shifts and rustles in the breeze. An excellent focal-point for container plantings too! Makes a dependable mixed border plant. Creates a pivotal accent point in any garden. Provides dramatic color and form to autumn and winter landscapes.
Daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Daylily (Hemerocallis hybrid)

Daylilies are tough and adaptable, yet their form is elegant and refined. Each trumpet-like bloom of a daylily only lasts for one day. Most varieties offer up daily blooms for several weeks and some rebloom throughout the entire summer. Plant a mix of daylilies with different colors and bloom times to assure a colorful garden for months. Combines beautifully with ornamental grasses.
Common Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)

Common Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)

Daisy-like blooms in sunset hues, their petals edged in fringe, brighten the garden well into autumn. Blanket flower is native to much of North America, the aristata species is tough choice that thrives even in poor, sandy soils. Ideal choice for beds, borders, and cutting gardens.
Common Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Common Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple coneflower is a prairie native that makes a tough, self-reliant garden plant. The flowers attracts butterflies to the garden and if you don’t deadhead the blooms, birds will visit to feed on the seeds. Cut flowers are long-lasting in fresh bouquets. Perfectly suited to informal, naturalized settings.

Vegetables to Plant in August

Veggie crops you start in August must be fast-growing and cold-tolerant. The seeds you sow will sprout in the heat of summer but must be capable of bearing fruit in chilly temperatures.

A few of the very best options include:

Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Features

Fresh Lettuce leaves provide the ultimate crispy crunch to a multitude of delicious recipes. This is an ideal vegetable for beginning gardeners with small space gardens because it can be planted among later summer vegetables and does well in containers. Leaf lettuce is at its best when used immediately after picking. Plant new crops about every two weeks to enjoy fresh lettuce throughout the growing season.

Uses

Add leaves to salads, sandwiches or use as a garnish. An excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Wash fruits, vegetables and herbs thoroughly before eating.
Carrot (Daucus carota)

Carrot (Daucus carota)

Carrots are fun and easy to grow and they don’t require a lot of garden space. They are available in a variety of colors and shapes beyond the traditional long, orange roots most often sold commercially. Different varieties offer different advantages in terms of harvest time, adaptability to soil types, and disease resistance. Do a little research to find the varieties best suited to your location and growing season. Carrots keep well if stored in a cool, dry location.
Beets (Beta vulgaris)

Beets (Beta vulgaris)

Features

Beets have been a staple in the human diet for thousands of years. The wild ancestor to today’s beets grows in the regions near the Mediterranean Coast and references to beets have been found in ancient Greek and Mesopotamian writings. All parts of the beet plant are edible and highly nutritious. They are a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Uses

Delicious baked or boiled. Cooked beats can be chilled and chopped for condiments, sliced in salads, or prepared as a cold soup. “Borscht” is a chilled beet soup popular in Eastern European countries. Beets may be canned or frozen for later use. Greens can be eaten fresh when young. Older greens can be cooked similar to spinach. Wash fruits, vegetables and herbs thoroughly before eating.
Peas (Pisum sativum var. sativum)

Peas (Pisum sativum var. sativum)

A triple-purpose variety! Can be used as a snow pea (pod and all) when young, as a snap pea, or regular shell pea when mature. A must for every vegetable garden. Superb for eating fresh or added to a variety of dishes. Delicious when boiled or stir-fried. Delicious when lightly steamed and covered with cheese sauce or melted butter. Wash fruits, vegetables and herbs thoroughly before eating.
Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Kale provides a steady supply of nutritious, leafy greens over a long season with little care. Once the plant is established in the garden, harvesting fresh, outer leaves will encourage continuous growth. Snap or cut each leaf off where it meets the stem to help keep the plant healthy. High in vitamins A, C and K among other nutrients. Excellent for flavoring a variety of dishes. Delicious when lightly steamed or boiled. Superb for adding flavor to soups, stews and casseroles.
Broccoli (Brassica hybrid)

Broccoli (Brassica hybrid)

Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins A and C! Plants produce flavorful dark green heads densely packed with florets on thick stems. Cut the head down to smaller florets to make preparation easier. A must for every vegetable garden! Delicious when lightly steamed and covered with cheese sauce or melted butter. Slice raw into salads or cook. Serve with dip on a vegetable tray.

Other veggies you can start from seed in August include turnips, spinach, arugula, endive, pak choi, and radicchio. Meanwhile, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, and herbs like basil or cilantro are all options for buying as transplants.

Can You Plant Shrubs and Trees in August?

Summertime, including August, is generally not a good season for tree planting. Newly planted trees don’t cope well with the summer heat. However, prime tree-planting season is right around the corner—September and October are ideal months for putting trees in the ground.

Some shrubs can be planted in August. Stick with species that can handle hot weather and make sure you provide plenty of water. Some varieties you can plant now include:

Shrubby Cinquefoil ‘Jackmanii’ (Potentilla fruticosa)

Shrubby Cinquefoil ‘Jackmanii’ (Potentilla fruticosa)

A charming display of colorful, dainty yellow blooms. Extremely hardy, versatile and low maintenance shrub. One of the best plants for adding lasting color to hot, dry situations. Wonderful for mixed borders and rock gardens. Beautiful grouped or massed in a shrub border or foundation planting.
Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Features

An evergreen in its warm, native zones Oleander is wonderful as a house or patio plant in cooler locations. An abundance of blooms, set against a backdrop of narrow leaves makes for a spectacular summer display. When overwintering indoors, reduce watering until growth picks up in spring.

Uses

A classic favorite for landscape focal points. Ideal for borders, hedges or as a specimen plant. Excellent for planting along fences and walls.
Yucca Indoors (Yucca elephantipes)

Yucca Indoors (Yucca elephantipes)

Features

Yucca is a plant of strong lines and symmetry with its spiky leaves radiating out from the base in an attractive display of nature’s architecture skills. Striking as a solo specimen in an entry way. Also provides nice contrast to groupings of softer houseplants.

Uses

Perfect for all kinds of containers. Makes a breathtaking potted specimen plant. May be displayed outdoors in warmer weather. Makes a lovely gift!
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Crape myrtle is a versatile plant that can be grown as a small tree or large shrub. Displays decorative peeling bark, dark green leaves and long-lasting clusters of flowers over a long season. Easy to maintain and a fast grower available in a wide array of colors. Ideal for borders, hedges or as a specimen plant. Best planted in groups. Great for privacy screening on decks or blocking unsightly views.
Juniper (Juniperus species)

Juniper (Juniperus species)

Features

Attractive, evergreen foliage provides interest year ’round. Easy to maintain, no pruning needed. Display improves with each passing year. Adds a touch of class to any garden planting.

Uses

A classic favorite for landscape focal points. Provides dramatic color and form to autumn and winter landscapes. Excellent for planting along fences and walls.
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)

Features

A fine choice for the landscape, offering yellow flowers and red fruit. Bright green foliage changes to orange, scarlet, and red-purple hues in autumn. The tiny thorns that earn Barberry its common name, make it a favorite for barrier hedges.

Uses

A classic favorite for landscape focal points. Best used in groups and shrub borders. Useful in small gardens where season long interest is needed.

A Few More August Gardening Tips 

While you may choose to do some planting in August, this month is typically more about enjoying and maintaining the garden that you worked hard to establish during the spring and early summer.

Your August gardening tasks may include:

  • Water regularly and thoroughly for protection against the hot, dry weather
  • Watch for pests and diseases that thrive in late summer. Promptly remove affected foliage. 
  • Touch up your mulched areas to make up for material that blew away or decomposed. Mulch helps with moisture retention and temperature regulation.
Woman with hand pruners deadheading a tiger lily plant in a perennial flower garden with purple coneflowers in the background.

If your summer-blooming flowers have begun to droop, then August is a good time to practice deadheading. Deadheading flowers involves removing spent blooms before they set seeds. Deadheading keeps flowers looking their best by removing withered material, while also helping the plant to redirect its energy into producing additional blooms.

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