For many, it’s their favourite season of the year. Summer brings long days, warm balmy nights, and with that usually comes plenty of time in the great outdoors. With all that extra time in our backyards and on our balconies, it makes sense to ensure they’re looking their best.
It’s not all about looks though. If you grow your own produce, you also need to know what to plant, or what you should be harvesting. If you’re into your flowers, you’ll want to know which should be coming into full bloom. And, of course, no matter what you’ve got growing in your garden, you’ll want to know how to increase the longevity of it.
In our summer gardening guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your garden looking schmick during Australia’s harsh summer conditions, including:
1. What to plant in summer
2. What to harvest in summer
3. Watering in summer
4. Pest Control
5. Utilising Shade
6. Nutrients and fertiliser
8. Trimming and maintenance
9. Taking care of potted plants in summer
What to plant in summer
Plant these vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers and plants in summer. Australia is a large country, with many different climates. You’ll have different options depending on where you live!
Sometime it’s hard to strike the right balance between the time you spend maintaining your garden… and the time you spend enjoying it! To keep your garden or plants from wilting in the summer, good preparation is key.
Whether you're in the North of Australia and your plants are expecting to cop drenching storms, or you’re in the South where no two days are alike - we’ve got all the guidance you need to help your seedlings survive, and your mature plants thrive.
Vegetables and fruits to plant in summer
We don’t have any vegetable jokes yet…so lettuce know if you do. Summer is the time to plant your veggies. Plant at the right time and when winter comes around you’ll have fresh produce you can throw into your stews and soups.
But nothing screams Aussie summer more than a slice of watermelon at the beach, or some fresh fruits atop a pavlova on Christmas day. Fruits are mostly in season in summer, meaning you won’t have many options when it comes to planting. Fruits are slightly more temperamental than their veggie counterparts, with many best planted in the spring and autumn months.
Try these vegetables and fruits in your garden this summer!
Herbs grown in summer
With some extra love and attention, you can try planting some herbs in summer.
Whether for aromatics, garnishing or packing your dishes with flavour, herbs are fantastic - and even better when you can get them straight from your garden! Herbs can be wasteful. How often have you bought a bunch, and used it once for the rest to wilt up and end up in the bin? When you have your own herbs, simply snip what you need and you won’t have to make a dash to the shops next time you're cooking.
If exposed to too much heat, however, your herbs could die or bolt. Bolting is when a vegetable crop prematurely seeds, essentially making them unusable. While this might not present for some time, it can occur when a cold spell hits or if there are changes in day length.
With that being said, if you're up for some herb plating give these ones a go!
Flowers grown in summer
Looking to add some colour into your garden? Some beautiful flowers bloom over the summer months. Of course, if you want something already flowering you’ll need a mature plant, you can find some options in our guide to flowers that bloom in summer.
Choosing flowers for your garden is all about the colours and textures you’d like to incorporate - not to mention the fragrance! Making the right choices can really make or break your garden, so ensure you’ve put some thinking into your flower choices before you get your hands dirty.
If you’re inclined to start from scratch and give some seedlings some tender love and care, then here’s some that’ll make your garden pop when they come into bloom.
Plants grown in summer
When it comes to trees, plants and shrubs, you shouldn’t have too much trouble in the summer. Provided your plants get enough water, and some shade (if needed) they should be good to start enjoying straight away. Native plants always make a good choice.
For your garden, you may like to choose some native plants. Native plants are great as they’re usually low maintenance, provide habitat for local wildlife and support a healthy environment. Native plants also look great year round, even when they’re not flowering.
If you’d like to get started with some Aussie natives, you might like to give these options a go:
• Gum trees
• Spider flower
And for something a bit smaller (perfect for one of our balcony boxes)...
• Kangaroo paw
• Native bluebell
• Everlasting daisy
What about rural and outback areas?
Hate to break it to you, but even the most resilient plants can’t take those harsh, rural conditions throughout summer. Extreme heat and dry conditions make it difficult for any new plants to spring to life.
You’ll want to focus on maintaining your garden throughout the summer. Pay careful attention to watering (more on this below) and pay close attention to how your plants are responding to the conditions.
If you’re desperate to get your hands dirty, one of our planter boxes might work for you - you could do some growing indoors, one of our boxes with wheels might come in handy!
What to harvest in summer
So, you know what to plant in summer - but what should you be picking? While specific harvest dates vary slightly across the country, in most cases these delicious fruits, veggies and herbs will be at their best during summer.
As with all seasons, there is some overlap, and some crops that will be available to harvest multiple or many times a year.
Depending how much of a budding gardener you are, here’s some produce you might be harvesting this summer.
Watering in summer
The key to helping your plants survive the heat is good watering. You should water when it is cooler in the mornings and evenings - this will decrease the amount of water that is lost from evaporation. Generally speaking, before 10AM and after 5PM are good times.
After you have watered, take note of your soil to see how far the water has penetrated. If you have mulch, you’ll want to ensure the water has penetrated the mulch and soil… otherwise your plants wont get their drink!
Generally speaking, the majority of roots of trees and shrubs are about 20-30cm deep, and flowers and veggies about 10-15cm. This should be a good indication of how much water you need to apply to your garden. If you are watering well, you should be able to return an hour or two after and the soil should be moist around these depths.
Your garden doesn't need to be watered everyday, even in summer. Usually one to two times a week of thorough watering is enough, and is actually better for your garden than little water less often. If there is a week of extreme heat, you may like to water an extra day or two. You should be guided by the condition of your soil, and the appearance of your plants.
Possums, bats, birds and… rats! These pests may bother you in summer… and steal fruits off your trees you’ve waited so long to eat. It’s not always the most pretty option, but netting can save your produce from pests.
If you do choose to install some netting, you’ll want to ensure it’s secure (or you may as well have done nothing to begin with!).
When it comes to planter boxes the same principles apply. Unfortunately, with many pests hungry and thirsty during summer, they’re looking for places to hide and get some good tucker. Your planter box might be a good option!
Some herbs and plants with a strong aroma may also deter certain pests. Garlic may keep bugs away, sage could deter slugs and cabbage moths and mint deters ants and aphids.
Shade is important for all types of plants and crops. Many simply can’t survive a full day of Australia’s sun. It’s important to research plants before choosing a spot, ensuring that the position you choose for them will be suitable year round. You could use shade cloth if your plants are already established.
It’s no good planting something in a more exposed position during the winter when there’s shorter days, if it won’t be able to survive summer’s long days!
If you do have some plants that don’t seem to be enjoying extra sun, you also have the option of installing a shade cloth. People use shade cloths year round, usually to protect crops from direct sunlight but still allowing them to enjoy some warmth. A shade cloth for your crops or more sensitive plants could save them from the summer sun.
Planter boxes are also great for all types of herbs and crops, as you can move them to ensure they’re getting the right amount of sun and shade - right across the year. A number of our planter boxes are available with wheels, making them super easy to roll in and out of the sun. You can shop the range here.
Nutrients and fertiliser
There isn’t a heap of fertilising that needs to be done during summer. And it’s likely that you may only actually grow one or two of these plants yourself - usually citrus.
Fertilising in summer is important for these crops:
• Citrus (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange etc.)
The most common plants people have to fertilize in summer are citrus trees. Citrus trees require fertiliser in all seasons, except for winter. An established tree will need 2kg per year, plus manure (chook, cow or horse). If your citrus tree is young, add 10% (200 grams) in its first year, and increase by 10% every year thereafter.
What about herbs?
Herbs aren’t big feeders, so don’t require much fertiliser. However, in general you can fertilise herbs once or twice a year - usually when you plant them and again in the middle of summer.
If you grow herbs regularly in a patch or planter box, all that you’ll usually need is organic fertiliser which can be mixed through your soil prior to planting.
Mulching in preparation for summer is essential. Mulch serves a dual purpose, it protects from the sun and helps soil retain moisture and nutrients. You should ensure your mulch offers 2-3 inches of even coverage.
Mulch acts like a blanket, providing insulation and keeping the roots of your plants cool through the hot summer months. You have a number of options when it comes to the type of mulch you choose for your garden. Straw, grass clippings, bark and wood chips are just a few common choices.
Trimming and maintenance
While many believe pruning is only important in winter when plants are dormant, summer is actually a very important time for maintenance.
First things first, when gardening in summer be careful with how long you’re out in the sun. The safest option is to do your gardening in the early mornings or evenings where possible.
You should aim to keep all of your garden in check throughout the summer. Pruning in summer will help with flowering and fruiting into the other seasons of the year. Pruning also has a host of other benefits you may not be aware of. It prevents disease and encourages new growth which is critical to the long term health of your plants.
Taking care of potted plants in summer
Potted plants need some extra attention in the summer. Pots which are made from stone, terracotta or concrete are especially susceptible to retaining excessive amounts of heat.
If possible, it’s best when there is extreme heat to move these plants into shaded or sheltered areas.
What about new plants?
The plants that will be struggling to survive the heat most are your seedlings. If you’ve planted during summer, you can get some fantastic growth - but you just need to give your seedling some extra attention.
Pay close attention to watering, ensuring the soil is not drying out too much. You could also give your seedlings some extra protection by installing a shade cloth for a couple of weeks to help them in their early growth.
Looking for more ways to bring your garden to life in summer?
Get into the summer spirit with one of our thoughtfully designed, premium timber planter boxes for your home, backyard or balcony. Shop our range of premium planter boxes and get gardening!