Keep your garden spectacular all season long

Coneflowers or echinachea bloom from now until fall.

Low-maintenance hollyhocks grow in difficult spots, need little water and attract bees.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with as a gardener is maintaining a wide variety of flowering plants over the course of a season.

Something should always be blooming, whether it’s spring or approaching fall. This is harder than it sounds — and it’s particularly difficult to orchestrate so your garden always features something spectacular, especially in the dog days of summer.

My goal is to always have a star take the stage as another finishes its solo, a sort of landscape symphony of rotating acts. You don’t want any lulls in your garden season with nothing pretty to look at.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of heat-
tolerant plants. But these are my personal favorites this summer, which help keep my garden interesting until it cools off.


(hyssop or hummingbird mint)

If you want butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, this is the plant for you. It’s incredibly hardy, comes in an array of colors and is a useful addition to a landscape.

It’s heat-tolerant, drought-
tolerant and can grow to the size of a medium shrub if you let it get that big. The spikes of flowers attract pollinators like no other in my garden. If you plant it, be careful to put it in well-drained soil. It hates being soggy, any time of year.



These are my go-to plant when nothing else seems to grow in a particularly difficult spot. I never water them, they just grow along a really hot fence bordering my garden. The only problem they have this time of year is with a spider-mite attack, but that’s easily remedied (insecticidal soap or just dousing them with a strong spray of water). Hollyhocks are dependable, bees love them and they’re the lowest-maintenance plant in my yard.



(California and Icelandic)

I just love poppies. If you’re looking for a splash of color and a variety of shades that bloom anywhere from spring to late summer, poppies are a hit. I was surprised at how heat-tolerant these delicate, papery flowers turned out to be, and at how little water they actually need once they’re established. The California poppies, in particular, are doing so well in a dry area of my yard that I suspect they could become a little invasive. Although the individual blooms aren’t that long-lived, they tend to shrivel just in time for one to open up.




This hardy flower shows up mid-July and keeps on blooming until fall. Bees and butterflies love these tall, sturdy blooms.

They come in a few different colors, but I find that the pollinators prefer the purple flowers to the reddish-orange and white ones. Echinacea is a perennial and I’ve never had one die off from a hard winter.



(ice plant)

These awesome little succulents are so incredibly vibrant, like little fireworks in the midst of a droopy, scorched landscape. Your only real danger in growing them is that you will overwater them or plant them in a low spot, where water gathers and freezes in the wintertime and they won’t survive. Just be cautious with the water once they’re established, plant them in a sheltered area or where it won’t get too soggy this winter and they’ll be back every year.

Ice plants provide incredible groundcover and I find that they even compete a little bit with bindweed — I rarely have to weed them out. But grasses will encroach, so be careful if you plant them next to a lawn.



You can help beautify the Colorado State University Extension gardens, learn about weeds and earn a free ticket to the fair today!

From 8:30 to 10 a.m., members of the public are invited to pull a bag of weeds in the garden and earn a free fair ticket. Meet at the CSU Extension office at the west end of the Mesa County Fairgrounds parking lot. Bring gloves if you have them; hats are advised.

Snacks and water will be provided.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.


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