Ever heard of echinacea? It's purple coneflower. And it’s got cheery daisylike flowers and a couple months of bloom time (July to August). There are other color varieties, but purple is the most popular. They love sun, and they’ll survive if there’s a dry spell. Bonus: They’re loved by bees and butterflies.
Take a close look at a dahlia, and you might recognize its cheery face—it’s a relative of the sunflower but actually a member of the aster family. Dahlias are super cool when it comes to variety. There are teensy ones. There are giant ones—called dinner plate—because they are literally as big as a dinner plate. Get ’em short or get ’em tall, and get ’em in an amazing range of colors. If they’re not hardy in your Zone, you can dig up the tubers (which look kind of like a potato) and stash them over the winter.
They're old school but still awesome. Your parents, your grandparents—they probably grew zinnias, and for good reason. They're tough, can grow in a snap from seed, and like dahlias, have lots of colors and types. They're an annual, except in the warmest climates, but they're a quick grower so that makes up for it. They don't need much—other than lots of sun.
Phlox puts on a show with clusters of petite flowers in a range of colors that grow up a taller stem. They’re great for bouquet height or to fill in the big holes. The variety determines the bloom time—some spring, some summer. Never buy one that isn’t labeled disease-resistant; powdery mildew is easy for these flowers to pick up otherwise.
You also can call it globe amaranth, but whatever you call it, just plant it. It’s an annual and has these great circular flower heads (they dry well, if you’re into that). They love sun and come in lots of shades—orange, yellow, pink, white, and purple. Bonus: Just toss a handful of seeds into your garden—that’s it.
Like coneflower, sunflowers are natives—great for all those funky bugs, bees, and birds you want in your garden. Some are short, some are tall (think 16 feet), some are classic yellow, while others tend toward orangey-red hues. They’re all simply stunning, though, and if you save the flower heads you can harvest the seeds for planting the next year. Plus they’re tough and love the heat and sun.
Black-eyed Susan and sunflowers have a lot in common because they're in the same family. The blooms on the black-eyed Susan tend to be smaller, as does the plant size. They're a native wildflower (hello birds, bees, and butterflies) and bloom a staggeringly long time—summer through early fall if the weather is right.
There are tree peonies, herbacious peonies, and itoh peonies (which are actually a cross between the first two). Doesn’t matter the type; you’ll know the many petaled and distinctly lush blooms of the peony when you see them. The standard color is a pastel pink, but red, yellow, and white have all made popularity inroads. Peonies will finish blooming once the weather turns hot.
Yarrow is like phlox—it's great for those fill-in spots in bouquets, especially with the clustery blooms that span out over a flat top. These perennials are tough growers that don't mind the heat or dry spells. They're long bloomers, too, midsummer until early fall.
Don't be scared—growing roses doesn't have to be hard, and nothing beats a bouquet of rose blooms. There are literally thousands of rose types, and some are fussier about their care than others. Go for a hardy variety (we like David Austin, shrub, or hybrids) that's also resistant to a lot of the diseases and pests that bug the more delicate types.