By Holly Crossley published
Knowing what to plant in July is handy for any garden lover. Many flowers reach their prime this month – if you've been growing for a while, your plot is likely to be bursting with blooms. But as you'll know, it's never worth resting on your laurels (not for too long anyway). With gardening, it's always good to think ahead.
There are plenty of perennial and biennial flowers that you can start sowing in July, ready for planting out next year. With a few varieties, you can even collect the seeds from existing plants in your flowerbed ideas to use, or take cuttings. Now is also the time to consider autumn planting and get some of those contenders started, too. And not everything has to be sown or grown from scratch – if you fancy a beautiful rose garden in your plot, now is a good time to plant one.
What to plant in July: 10 top flowers to grow
Choosing what to plant in July can get a little overwhelming – there are so many options to pick from. So, to give you a helping hand, we've rounded up our top flowers to get sowing and growing this month. You'll find plenty of expert tips too, to ensure your garden planter ideas and borders put on a show-stopping display.
Penstemons look rather similar to foxgloves due to their bell-shaped blooms, and come in a rich spectrum of colors – from vivid cerise (try 'Garnet') and deep purple to bright white ('Snowstorm). They offer their display throughout summer into early autumn, are relatively low maintenance, and make ideal additions to cottage garden ideas. They're also loved by pollinators.
If you already have some in your garden, they're likely to be holding your interest this month. If you want more for next year, now is a good time to take cuttings. As Lucy Chamberlain for Amateur Gardening advises, all you need to do is snip the tops off non-flowering shoots.
You'll need to follow the softwood cuttings approach for propagating penstemons. Our guide on how to take cuttings from plants has in-depth advice, but here's a quick reminder on how to do it:
- Use a sharp knife to take cuttings around 4–5in (10– 12cm) long, cutting just below a leaf node, from non-flowering tips.
- Carefully remove the bottom two leaves and trim the top and side leaves by up to one-third to reduce their surface area. This will prevent moisture loss.
- Dip the cut ends in hormone rooting powder. Then, gently push them into a 50:50 mixture of compost and perlite.
- If you are taking lots of cuttings, you can put them into modular trays. Otherwise, you can plant up to five in a 3.5in pot.
- After your cuttings have taken root, they can be left undisturbed over winter or potted on individually.
If you don't want to wait, you can also plant up new, potted penstemons from a garden center. Get them in as soon as you can, so that they have time to establish before the winter. They favor moist but well-drained soil, positioned in full sun to partial shade. If your garden only has heavy soil, you can add plenty of grit to the border to improve it prior to planting.
It's a good idea to feed them weekly in summer for the best results, and don't forget to mulch them annually.
Roses are on many gardeners' favorite flower list – beautifully scented, wonderfully romantic – what's not to love?
June is often thought of as peak time for roses, and by July, many earlier varieties have begun to fade. However, as Graham Rice for Amateur Gardening explains, there are plenty of long-flowering roses which will grace the garden with blooms right up until autumn. And when it comes to what to plant in July, it's not too late to add roses bought in pots from the garden center to your plot.
Graham shares his planting tips:
- 'In their first weeks their only source of moisture is their original rootball, so water daily at first,' Graham says. You can add a weak liquid feed as well, he adds.
- Plant the rose in a slight dip – this allows water to gather above the rootball and then soak down to where it's needed.
- In windy situations, discreet supports will prevent the wind loosening the new roots.
You can find more top tips on how to grow roses in our guide.
Graham also suggests some glorious rose varieties to try for long-lasting blooms:
- Bonica – a vigorous and prolific rose that flowers right up until late autumn and then offers eye-catching red hips. The blooms start as rich pink buds, opening to a brighter shade before fading to almost white. They reach a height of around 4ft.
- Old Blush – a variety with large, cupped, rain-resistant blooms in a rich crimson hue. It also has a lovely fruity fragrance. Grows to around 3ft.
- Flower Carpet White – this rose flowers continuously into late autumn, sporting semi-double white flowers with yellow centers. It's a good choice for containers, so consider using it for your patio gardening ideas. This variety doesn't grow too tall, but it can spread to around 4ft wide.
Echinaceas make a fabulous addition to the border with their show-stopping structure and vivid color. They flower from July to September, and their daisy-like blooms are ideal for herbaceous or prairie-style beds.
You can sow these perennials now to plant out next year. Anne Swithinbank for Amateur Gardening explains how:
- Sprinkle seeds thinly across the top of wide, shallow pots and cover lightly with compost.
- Seedlings generally appear by three weeks. When large enough to handle, transplant one per 3.5in pot.
- Move or divide up large clumps in spring with a sharp knife.
If you already have some potted up from last year's sowings, or have bought one from the garden center, you can plant them out all the way up to September. Just ensure you keep them watered during droughts, Anne adds. They like a sunny spot in well-drained soils. Avoid moving them around once they're in.
Here are some of Anne's suggestions for echinacea varieties:
- Summer Cocktail – a compact plant that's good for containers filled with well-drained compost. The flowers open in shades of orange yellow, but change to a rich salmon color over time, with dark cone centers.
- Tomato Soup – red-flowered echinaceas like these are rather spectacular, however they are less tolerant of wet than other varieties. Be sure to plant them in soil which drains well, especially in winter.
- Marmalade – if you're looking for something undeniably showy, then this is a great pick. Its double blooms and bright orange hue makes it a true feature in the border.
Echinaceas are another plant that's well-favored by pollinators. Looking for more of the best bee-friendly plants? Our guide has plenty of pretty picks.
Forget-me-nots, with their delicate yet bright blue flowers, may be small. But that doesn't stop them from being positively charming. You can plant their seeds now to enjoy their pretty blooms next spring.
As the team at Thompson & Morgan advise, you can simply mimic the natural process that follows their spring flowering by sprinkling the seeds directly into outdoor soil. This can be done from May all the way up to September. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, you may wish to thin them out to encourage stronger growth. Keep the area moist but not waterlogged.
The best spots for forget-me-nots is somewhere with well-drained soil which has been improved with plenty of organic matter. They thrive in dappled shade, so make lovely additions to shade garden ideas.
Wallflowers, otherwise known as erysimum, offer glorious spikes of colorful blooms that bees and butterflies adore.
The purple 'Bowles's Mauve' is a well-known favorite, flowering from March right up until early autumn. Alternatively, for blazing red tones, try 'Fire King' – it won't flower for as long as 'Bowles's Mauve' but is certainly a stunning addition to the border.
If you've bought a plant from a garden center, these guidelines will help you add it to your plot:
- Start by watering the plant in its pot thoroughly.
- Pick a sunny spot with well-drained, moderately fertile soil and dig a hole twice the size of the pot. Add grit to the bottom of the hole if your soil is heavy, to improve drainage.
- Add a layer of good multi-purpose compost to the hole, then plant your wallflower, with the top of the root ball level to the top of the hole.
- Fill the remaining gaps in with a mixture of soil and compost.
You can also plant wallflower seeds now, for flowers next spring. Suttons explains how:
- Sow the seeds in a seedbed away from the final growing spot.
- Make sure the seedbed has a fine tilth for easy germination. This should usually take around 7–14 days. Thin them as they grow, to achieve a spacing of 6in (15cm).
- In fall, transplant the plants into their final spot in your garden. Pick somewhere with sun or partial shade. Space them about 12in (30cm) apart, and pinch out their growing tips to encourage bushiness. Add good-quality organic matter or well-rotted manure to the soil before planting.
- For heavy soils, fork in horticultural grit and seaweed meal too.
Our guide on how to grow flowers from seed has more top tips.
Another perennial which you can start growing from seed now for flowers next year is delphiniums. These showy spikes make ideal additions to the back of billowing borders as they can tower over 6ft tall. Offering clustered blooms in white, blue, pink and indigo, they make some of the best cutting garden flowers. You may even have some in your garden right now – their peak blooming season is June–July.
Growing them from seed is much cheaper than buying plants from garden centers, so is the way forward if you're after cheap garden ideas. And now is a good time to do so, directly into the soil outdoors:
- Choose a sunny spot with fertile and moist yet well-draining soil.
- Work organic matter into the top 6–8 inches of soil before levelling it out.
- Sow your delphinium seeds evenly before covering with a light layer of fine soil.
- Firm the soil lightly and keep it moist but not waterlogged.
- Your seedlings should emerge within three to four weeks. Once they have three sets of leaves, thin them out to around 18in (45cm) apart.
If you prefer, you can start them off in trays outdoors or in a seed bed, and then transplant the seedlings in autumn to their final growing position. Our dedicated feature on how to grow delphiniums has more advice should you need it.
Whether you go for white, purple or apricot, foxgloves are a well-loved summer bloomer. A cottage garden staple, these tall flowers make great additions along garden fence ideas or the back of a flowerbed. And right now is a good time to get sowing.
As Tamsin Hope Thomson for Amateur Gardening says, these plants are self-seeders. However, if you want a little more control over where new plants end up, you can cut down the flower spike before the seeds are released, then shake it to catch them. You can collect and sow these seeds from now up until August.
'For the best results, sow in small pots and keep under cover in a coldframe,' she says. You can also overwinter them in a frost-free greenhouse. Either way, they should be ready to plant out the following April.
A top tip is to not cover them in soil when you sow them. Instead, lightly press them in, as the seeds need light to germinate.
'Hollyhocks are known as the "backbone of the garden" for a reason,' says Ruth Hayes of Amateur Gardening. 'Usually standing at least 3ft tall, they tower over other summer flowers adding height and colorful definition.'
They're one of the best cottage garden plants – try 'Halo Apricot' for dusky pink blooms, or 'O'Hara' for red pom-pom ruffles. Or, for modern garden ideas, why not opt for 'Black Knight' with its striking, glossy, inky-hued petals?
If you're wondering what to plant in July, then these make a good contender. You can sow the seeds now, ready to be planted out when they're large enough in autumn. Here's how:
- Sow the seeds undercover for the best results, scattering them thinly onto levelled seed compost that has been dampened with fresh tap water.
- Cover with a layer or vermiculite or compost, add a lid and germinate on a sunny windowsill.
- The seedlings can be potted on into individual 3in pots when they are large enough to handle.
- When planting outside, don't put your young hollyhocks in soil where the plant has grown before, and always give each one plenty of room.
- Hollyhocks are vulnerable to the unsightly fungal disease hollyhock rust. Although it can be treated with fungicide, it's better to give them a good start with fresh soil and lots of space.
Although they are hardy perennials, it's best to use cloches to protect your young plants from the cold winter weather, adds Ruth.
From the showy yellow-white and red 'Crimson Star' and the opulent spikes of 'Black Barlow' to the gentle pastel shades of 'Winky Rose', aquilegia is an early-summer flower which offers all sorts of stunning looks.
As Tamsin Hope Thomson for Amateur Gardening explains, they are prolific self-seeders. And just like with foxgloves, you can collect up the seeds before they disperse (once the seed heads have turned brown), to sow them straight away in trays of compost. Once they have germinated, thin them out and then, when large enough to handle, pot them on individually in a coldframe. Plant them out in autumn, 12in (30cm) apart.
Alternatively, keep the seeds in labelled paper envelopes to plant in March. New plants probably won't look identical to the parents, Tamsin adds.
10. Violas and pansies
Fall may seem a mere dot on the horizon right now. However, if you really want to get prepared with what to plant in July, then start thinking about flowers for the colder seasons. And some of our personal favorites have to be violas and pansies.
You can sow these seeds now so that they're ready to be planted in September, explains the team at Thompson & Morgan. And it's not too difficult to do.
It's fine to use a soil-less compost, but add a bit of extra perlite if you suspect the drainage to be poor, they say. Then, cover the seeds with a thin layer of vermiculite and place in temperatures of 59-65°F (15-18°C) to germinate. 'High temperatures and fluctuating moisture levels are the most likely causes of failure,' they add.
When large enough to handle, plant out the seedlings in trays or small pots and grow on in a coldframe until it's time to plant. They make lovely additions to containers and window box ideas.
More top tips for growing flowers in July
It's good to know what to plant in July to get ahead, but don't forget to keep maintaining the blooms you already have, too. There are a few simple jobs to do this month which will keep your garden looking glorious:
- To encourage longer flowering, deadhead bedding plants and repeat-flowering perennials.
- Taller flowers such as lupins and delphiniums may need additional supports.
- Feed and mulch borders and containers, and keep them well-watered in periods of drought. Our ultimate guide to mulching has everything you need to know.
- Watch out for aphids – you can learn how to get rid of aphids in our handy guide.
- Some spring-flowering shrubs will need pruning now, such as lilacs, flowering quince, and forsythia.
Can you plant bulbs in July?
You may associate flowering bulbs with spring. Of course, there are plenty on offer then, from show-stopping tulips to cheery daffodils. However, there are a good few varieties which will flower in the fall, and these can be planted in July.
Varieties include nerines, autumn crocuses, Cyclamen hederifolium, and the beautiful Gladiolus murielae. Our guide to planting bulbs is full of practical tips.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!
Herb garden ideas: 15 ways to grow herbs outdoors and in
Ideas Take your pick from these herb garden ideas and you'll always have a fragrant collection of culinary delights to choose from
By Sarah Wilson • Published
Monty Don shares a winter apple tree pruning warning
Gardens He explains why too much pruning could potentially lead to a vicious circle and ruin your fruit tree
By Millie Hurst • Published