Summer flowering plants
Looking to fill your garden with colourful summer blooms? You've come to the right place. We've put together a list of our favourite summer flowering plants for every type of garden.
Agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox)
Many Australian councils have taken to planting agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox in particular) in public areas, and they’ll be in full bloom over summer. The Agapanthus plants grow spherical clusters of trumpet-like flowers atop long, thin, green stems. Aside from the common purple agapanthus, there are white varieties, blue varieties and those with variegated foliage such as A. praecox 'Zambezi'. The best part, one you have agapanthus, they’re easy to self-propagate by dividing.
Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spp.)
The dazzling colours of these climbing beauties comes from the bracts that surround the rather insignificant flower, which is usually a creamy colour. How much your bougainvillea flowers depends on how it is treated. These plants are extremely hardy and will survive without additional water or fertiliser. You could say they thrive on neglect and display a fabulous flower coverage for many months as long as they grow in a well drained soil and receive plenty of sunshine.
Naturally evolved to be radiant white with a yellow-centre, the fragrant frangipani – native to the Americas – is now a commonly grown summer-flowering plant, particularly in warmer and coastal areas throughout Australia. Other varieties have been cultivated to include hues of pink, red and orange.
Gardenia (Gardenia augusta)
Great in mass plantings, for hedging and in large potted situations, the highly fragrant gardenia - whose large, creamy, cup-shaped flowers punctuate a dark green, waxy backdrop of foliage - is gaining popularity and is a great plant in any garden. Just be sure not to situate them somewhere that will cop a beating from the hottest rays of the sun.
Grevillea (Grevillea decora)
Growing well on the west, north and east coasts of Australia, Grevillea decora can grow over twice the height of a tall man. Producing unique, spidery clusters of thick tendrils, grevilleas are extremely unique in appearance and also beautiful. Grevilleas will attract native birds and insects while looking fantastic in your garden. Being Australian natives, they’re also very easy to look after.
Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)
It’s commonplace during the Australian summer to find a sea of purple everywhere you look, and the jacaranda is responsible. Streets everywhere are engulfed by this mighty tree, whose abundance of purple bell-shaped flowers radiate in the warm weather on branches up to 15m above the ground. Once the flowers drop, streets, yards and footpaths everywhere are blanketed in a carpet of purple blooms.
New Zealand Christmas bush (Metrosideros excelsus)
From delicate white buds, the New Zealand Christmas bush produces vivid red clusters of needle-like blooms in summer, each tipped with yellow. Flowers are great for ornamental use, and looks wonderful as part of Christmas decorations. Including them in table-settings makes for a beautiful point of difference.
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Of all the lavender varieties, English lavender (often referred to as true lavender) is the most popular, thanks to its remarkable scent and colour. Its peak flowering season is mid-summer, but its aromatic leaves are fragrant year-round. One of the best known English lavenders is L. angustifolia 'Hidcote', which grows well in cool, mountainous areas like New South Wales’ Southern Highlands and Sydney’s outer western suburbs. Read more.
New South Wales Christmas bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum)
One plant that’s always perfectly dressed to celebrate an Aussie Christmas is the New South Wales Christmas bush. In early summer, this shapely native shrub’s small, creamy-white flowers give way to showy red or pink bracts. Together with pretty, shiny, soft foliage, it’s no wonder this plant is a florist's favourite during the festive season. The best time to pick your preferred variety is when the calyx ripens and colours brightly, between November and December.
Roses (Rosa sp.)
Roses are one of the world’s most beautiful flowers, but the number of varieties can be mind boggling. It’s important to select a rose with a growth habit that suits your garden. Climbers and ramblers are perfect for covering a strong metal frame or pergola. Floribunda roses combine the beauty of hybrid tea blooms with a profusion of flowers and tend to be smaller, bushier and less prone to sprawling. Hybrid teas have attractive buds and good disease resistance, while standard roses look fabulous in formal gardens. Read more.
Heliotrope or ‘Cherry Pie’ (Heliotropium arborescens)
For a vision of violet in your garden, plant this spreading, evergreen, bun-shaped shrub. Its shiny, ovate leaves are complemented by clusters of brilliant purple flowers from early spring to late summer. The flowers release a rich, vanilla fragrance, similar to a baked cherry pie, hence its common name. Some species have such an intense fragrance they’re used in perfume and soaps.
Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Hydrangea blooms are seen in white, pink, blue and every shade in between. White hydrangea varieties always bloom white, however the coloured variety has fascinated generations of gardeners as colours vary depending on soil pH. Acidic soil (a pH of 5.5 or less) produces blue blooms, while an alkaline soil (a pH of 6 or more) produces pink flowers. Just remember, changes to the pH need to be made slowly, and should begin before July for your December blooms. Read more.
Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
Crepe myrtles are among the best garden trees to grow. They’re pretty in every season, available in a range of colours, shapes and sizes, and with the availability of the 'Indian Summer' range, are problem-free. Their crepe-like flowers appear in pale pink, red, mauve or white, and bloom from late spring well into autumn. As the flowering ends, the leaves colour gold and red for autumn.
Murraya (Murraya paniculata)
Also known as cosmetic bark, jasmine orange and orange jessamine, this evergreen shrub makes for a five-star hedging plant and offers a profusion of white, sweetly perfumed flowers from spring to autumn. For a neater, more compact murraya, try ‘Min-a-Min’, a dwarf variety which doesn’t flower as prolifically as other varieties, but grows slowly as a small, rounded mound.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
The flamboyant flowers of hibiscus will light up your garden in summer, generously unfurling new flowers day after day, so there’s always something bold and colourful to enjoy. With flowers in tones of red, pink, yellow, orange and even purple, and single or double, choosing a favourite is one of the hardest decisions to make when buying a hibiscus for your garden.
Royal poinciana (Delonix regia)
Also known as the flamboyant tree, the bright orange-scarlet flowers clusters of royal poinciana herald the coming of summer. Originating all the way from Madagascar, royal poinciana can grow up to 10 metres, but mostly reaches between 3 and 5 metres. Its spreading growth habit means it’s not a tree for a small yard. It's a semi-deciduous tree, shedding its deep green, feathery leaves in spring before flowering, but new ones follow immediately, so it's never without foliage.
Fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica)
Originally from Chile and Argentina, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more enchanting, beautiful flowers (also known as ladies’ eardrops) for your patio or a hanging basket on the veranda. These dappled light-loving plants feature flowers that are mostly crimson with dark red sepals and a purple corolla, and which appear in summer through to late autumn.
Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum)
The name geranium comes from the Greek word, ‘geranos’ (crane), referring to the fruit’s resemblance to the shape of a crane’s bill. This plant’s five-petaled flowers appear in pink or purple-blue shades and develop into long narrow fruits. There are many species, most of which are hardy and some of which are scented. Geraniums will grow in a range of conditions, but thrive in full or half sun.