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Upper Midwest Gardening: Hot Summer Planting Tips

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Start with good soil, and then add the right plants and your Upper Midwest garden will dazzle even when temperatures sizzle.

upper midwest

The heat this summer has been a scorcher. Today the mercury flirted with the big 100 (as in degrees). Here are some tips for cooling off your dry and hot garden.

Good soil

Keeping any garden going during summer's hottest days is hard, but it's especially difficult in front-yard strip gardens--the parcels of property that fall between the sidewalk and driveway. But take a look at the garden above--it's cool as a cucumber. And it's what you can't see that makes this garden thrive. Generous amounts of organic matter, compost and manure mixed into the soil create a healthy home for plant roots while boosting the soil's ability to retain moisture. On top of the soil a thick layer of mulch (2 to 3 inches) helps keep the soil cool and slows evaporation. Do these things before planting and you'll be able to grow a broader range of plants that will sizzle with color even in the dog days of summer.

cool-blue ageratum amid hot-pink petunias

Mix in cool colors

Soft, fluffy cool-blue ageratum looks refreshing amid hot-pink petunias. Both can take the heat and thrive in full sun.

Ageratum is slightly fragrant and a magnet for bees and butterflies. It's a self-sower; look for volunteers next year! The petunias are heat-loving annuals that thrive on neglect. This one is from the "wave" series--it spreads like crazy! They do extremely well in window boxes too.

phlox

Plant heat lovers

Phlox are heat-loving perennials and stars of the summer garden. They are easy to grow, attract bees and butterflies and look really cool in vases. (So keep the shears handy.)

upper midwest

Celosia's velvety flames seem to taunt the summer sun. This eye-catching annual sets the garden on fire in brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange. They'll grow in beds, borders and containers.

upper midwest

Daylilies shrug off the heat. 'Little Wine Cup' produces abundant fragrant flowers every day. (Thus the name--daylily flowers last just one day.)

More hot-summer garden tips:

  • Deadhead daily to keep the garden blooming.
  • Water extra on really hot days.
  • Feed flowers with a water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks.