What better way to enjoy entertaining at home than in a garden full of flowers? Summer has plenty of colourful and easy-to-grow options. Here are some of our summer favourites to plant in your garden to bring it to life during the festive season.

Gardenia (Gardenia augusta)

With its creamy white blooms and dark green foliage, gardenia is a shrub that can be relied on for flowers and perfume all summer long. This is a plant to feature in the garden or a pot, or to grow as a dense evergreen hedge to around 1m high. For a low-growing variety look for ‘Radicans’. Water well, feed with specialised gardenia food in spring and summer and deadhead spent blooms. Gardenia grows in sun or with shade from the hot afternoon sun.

 

Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

Not only will hydrangeas bring flower colour all through summer, but a potted hydrangea also makes a great Christmas gift. There are many new and exciting varieties to buy to add to your garden. Hydrangeas flower blue in acidic growing media, and pink if soil is alkaline. Specific soil treatments are available to help change your hydrangeas' colour. White hydrangeas stay white regardless of soil pH. Grow hydrangeas in a south- or east-facing garden. In a sunnier situation, plants need extra water especially on hot days and may need to be shaded on heatwave days to avoid flower burn. Prune flowered stems in winter.

 

Hibiscus

For a tropical feel, grow hibiscus. There are many bold varieties to enjoy in a rainbow of colours including pink, red, mauve, white, yellow and orange. Grow hibiscus in full sun in the ground or in a large tub, but make sure they are sheltered from winter frost.

 

Roses (Rosa)

Roses come in all shapes and sizes from small bushes to vigorous climbers. They need full sun to thrive. Select the colour and scent you like by buying roses in summer while they are in flower and plant them straight into your garden for instant effect. Deadhead after each flush of flowers or pick flowers to enjoy inside in a vase. A light summer prune in mid-summer encourages even more flowers in autumn. Hard prune in winter when plants are dormant. Fertilise regularly from spring to early autumn with rose food.

 

Frangipani (Plumeria)

Frangipani has real wow factor in full bloom with cream and yellow fragrant flowers. There are also varieties with yellow, apricot, red or multi-toned flowers to add even more colour to the garden. Grow these subtropical plants in a warm, sheltered, sunny spot such as against a north-facing wall. Frangipanis are deciduous so lose their leaves over winter. Feed in spring with a complete fertiliser.

 

New South Wales Christmas bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum)

This small native tree has white flowers in spring followed in December and January with terracotta to red toned bracts. NSW Christmas bush grows naturally in sheltered moist areas but does well in gardens with regular water and shelter from hot afternoon sun. Lightly prune after flowering or pick stems to use indoors for festive decoration. Feed with a native plant food in spring.

 

New Zealand Christmas bush (Metrosideros)

For a hit of red and green check out this native from New Zealand that flowers not just for Christmas but from late spring right through summer. New Zealand Christmas bush's flowers resemble a small red bottlebrush set among dark green leaves. This tall shrub can be grown as a clipped hedge or left to form a small tree. There are also variegated forms. Best in full sun or with a little afternoon shade.

 

Bougainvillea

It is hard to beat bougainvillea for bright colour in the garden with its long-lasting flowers in purple, pink, orange and white. These ‘flowers’ are colourful bracts around a small, white insignificant bloom. While bougainvilleas can be large thorny climbers, there are also smaller, shrubby forms such as Bambino Series, which are ideal for containers or a small patch of colour. Plant in full sun on a strong support (for climbing forms). Fertilise in the warmer months with specialised fertiliser.

 

Geranium and pelargonium

Geraniums and pelargoniums are easy-going, long-flowering small shrubs which bloom all summer long with red, pink, mauve or white flowers. Zonal geraniums are a great choice for pots. Ivy geraniums and the hybrid forms such as ‘Big Red’ make eye-catching hanging baskets. Choose pelargoniums for no-fuss seaside or drought hardy plantings. Prune in autumn or whenever it is needed to keep plants compact.

 

Petunia and calibrachoa

Petunias and calibrachoas are colourful annuals that flower all summer long. They can be grown in the garden, pots or hanging baskets and relish a warm, sunny spot. Flowers are pink, purple, yellow, orange or white. For instant colour, buy small potted plants in flower or start with a punnet of seedlings. Tip-prune young plants to encourage bushiness and extra flowers, then lightly shear after a flush of flowers to encourage more growth. Feed regularly with liquid fertiliser and keep plants watered when conditions are hot and dry. Potted plants and hanging baskets need daily watering.