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Favourites because of their long-flowering habit and their profusion of blooms, petunias are often regarded as symbols of summer. They're available in a wide range of colours and varieties; single or double blooms, with all sorts of exuberantly ruffled, picotee, veined and striped petals. You can choose grandiflora types for large trumpet-shaped flowers, or smaller-flowered, hardier multiflora varieties. They're even available as trailing and cascading varieties, that spill over the edges of hanging baskets or pots. They're excellent for borders, mass beddings, potted gardens and classic choices for hanging baskets. They even have natural pest repellent properties!
After they've flowered, it's recommended to pinch them back to encourage them to stay compact - and produce more flowers.
Sunflowers are the essence of summer and their big bold yellow flowers look like pure, distilled happiness. They’re a magnet for bees and other pollinators, as well as hungry birds. Sunflowers have the remarkable ability to turn their faces, to follow the sun across the sky (until the flower heads mature, after that they're fixed in one direction).
Sunflowers are easily grown from seed and are beloved by children. Almost every part of the plant can be eaten, so they’re useful as well as good-looking!
There are lots of sunflower varieties to choose from, including the tall giant forms, which can reach up to 5m tall and typically take up to 12 weeks to bloom. Due to their extreme height and large heads, they can become quite top heavy (especially once the flower heads are full of seeds), so they will need protection from strong winds and rain and may require staking to prevent them from toppling over. If you don’t have the space, you can choose dwarf or smaller varieties. They grow between 30-50 cm tall and only take 8-10 weeks to flower. Both compact and tall growing varieties are available in the classic golden yellow hues, but they’re also available in orange, bronze, russet reds and bi-colour combos.
Sunflowers make a great school holiday seed-sowing project for kids, who will be certain to vote for the extra tall (up to 5m!) Sunflower Ginormous FlowerZilla with its classic, sun-facing, large yellow heads.
Also known as black-eyed Susans, coneflowers or marmalade daisies, rudbeckias are members of the daisy family, native to North America. Some species are perennial, with masses of bright orange-yellow dark-eyed blooms that reflect the warm colours of summer. Rudbeckia hirta cultivars (usually grown as annuals) are available in a much wider range of colours, ranging from rich yellow and gold, through pink tints, to coppery browns and deep sumptuous reds.
Rudbeckias enjoy growing in full sun and will tolerate extremely dry conditions once they’re established. An added bonus is their flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.
Yates Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy' is a uniquely romantic, richly-coloured selection, with flowers shading from deep crimson to carmine red and dark chocolate eyes. It's a real beauty in a vase, too.
For a mass of small flowers in summer that carpet large areas with stunning blooms, Phlox are the perfect choice. Phlox will grow rapidly to blooming stage. If sown direct where it is to grow, it'll produce a mass of summer colour.
Super hardy, no-fuss Phlox grows in both sunny or part shade conditions and look fabulous against along borders, fences, hanging baskets or as cut flowers.
If you love poppies but want a low maintenance version, you can’t go past the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Great for the easy care garden, cottage gardens or in pots for a burst of colour. Sun loving California poppies have satiny-sheened petals in shades of white, cream, pink, yellow, orange and scarlet. These warm, glowing colours contrast with the blue-grey, ferny foliage. Sow seed direct into prepared garden beds.
Yates California Poppy Thai Silk has exquisite ruffled blooms featuring lustrous, silky, rosy pink petals with touches of cranberry and lemon. Easy to grow and drought tolerant, they bloom all summer and are ideal for planting in drifts of shimmering colour, or at the front of a border.