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8 Great Plant Combinations for your Summer Garden


By Naomi Jones

Spring is a great time to plan your planting schemes for the summer. Getting plants or summer bulbs planted in spring gives them time to settle before waking up in their new location, so they’ll establish quicker and create a good display in their first year.

Liatris Spicata

When choosing plants for your garden, you can’t go far wrong as long as you go for varieties that suit the growing conditions. As long as they’re thriving, they’ll look great. When it comes to combining different varieties, make sure they are all happy with the same conditions. For example, grow shade-loving varieties together in shady spaces, and sun-loving varieties in sunny spots. If you have particularly extreme conditions, such as a sun-soaked dry border, an exposed garden or damp, shady or boggy garden, always choose plants that will tolerate those conditions.

What Should I Plant Together?

Another thing to consider when deciding on a planting combination is growing heights and habits. Tall plants with flower spikes provide contrasting structure in the border when planted next to more bushy plants. Low-growing plants can make the perfect low-level interest, covering the stems of tall plants behind and creating a gradient of flowers. If you’re planting in containers, you should choose compact varieties, ideally with good drought tolerance (unless you are happy to water them every day in summer).

Liatris Spicata

Also, get the timings right. All plants have a season of interest, so good to choose varieties that will provide this at the same time, or successively with an overlap if you want an extended season of interest.

Colours can be a bit of an afterthought. Flowers always seem to complement each other and it’s always worth giving every colour a chance, even those that you might not like on their own. For example, I often hear people say that they don’t like yellow or orange flowers. Agreeably, some can be a bit brash to look at close up, but they’re so important for balancing any colour scheme, and for bringing out the blues, purples and pinks.

Here are some great summer garden plant combinations with all of the above considered:

Dahlia, Daylily and Astilbe

These three thrive in a sunny location and flower continuously throughout summer, providing a long-lasting display in warm shades. Best suited to growing in the border, with low-growing astilbe at the front and the dahlia and daylily behind. The dahlia and astilbe both make great cut flowers, so you can cut them and enjoy them in a vase too.

Featured plant combination:

Summer border combo

Gladiolus, Begonia and Lily

This combination will provide a showy display throughout summer with contrasting colours and structures. All three tolerate full sun or partial shade and can be grown in borders or containers. The begonia is the lowest growing, so it needs to be planted at the front with the gladiolus and lily behind. Begonias and lilies flower repeatedly for months, and the gladiolus will provide a fresh spike of colour in July and August. Gladiolus and lilies are also excellent cut flowers.

Featured plant combination:

Summer border combo

Iris, Gypsophila and Peony

Perfect for a cottage-style garden, these plants combine soft pastel shades pinpointed with eye-catching dark iris. All three varieties are excellent cut flowers and will be in flower at the same time, so you can enjoy this combination in the home as well as in the garden. All three will thrive in a sunny border and can tolerate partial shade. The peony and gypsophila reach a similar size and can be planted next to each other with the irises planted in a swathe running through them.

Featured plant combination:

Summer border combo

Lily and Calla Lily

This would make a stunning container display in and sunny or partially shady, sheltered position, both varieties flowering repeatedly throughout summer. The calla lily has a low, lush leafy habit and will provide a striking contrast below the taller stargazer lilies. A combination like this looks great in a modern or contemporary garden. The fragrant stargazers make excellent cut flowers.

Featured plant combination:

Summer border combo

Crocosmia, Dahlia and Polianthes

This combination will grow well in a sunny border, providing a robust display of bright, impressive flowers for many months during summer. All three varieties make excellent cut flowers, the polianthes is also highly fragrant. The crocosmia is the lowest-growing variety, so plant this one at the front of the border with the dahlia and the polianthes behind it. Dahlias aren’t frost hardy, so they will need to be lifted and stored during winter.

Featured plant combination:

Summer border combo

Begonia and Strawberry

This is a great solution where space is limited. Both begonias and strawberries have a trailing habit and look great cascading from pots. The begonias provide a great display of flowers all summer long, and the strawberries will trail below them during June and July. Strawberry ‘Lambada’ (pictured) is a heavy cropper with deliciously sweet fruit, but please don’t eat the begonias! Plant this pair in a large container so that both varieties have space to grow, and position in a sunny spot.

Featured plant combination:

Summer pot combo

Nerine, Agapanthus and Calla Lily

The three varieties in this lovely combination overlap flowering times, providing continuous colour from July right through to late autumn. All are ideal for growing in large containers or borders, in full sun or partial shade. The agapanthus and nerines produce tall stems with large, globe-shaped flower clusters at the top, and these can be under-planted with the calla lilies to produce a dense, leafy and floriferous display. You can also use agapanthus and nerines in bouquets.

Featured plant combination:

Summer border combo

Liatris, Canna and Dahlia

Create a lush, tropical look in a sunny border with this big, bright trio. Cannas have wonderful, large striped leaves which are provide excellent interest throughout summer, packing an extra punch during August and September with big orange blooms. Dahlias and cannas always make a great pair. Dahlia ‘Bishop of Oxford’ has dark purple foliage which provides a nice contrast to the green canna leaves. The upright, purple flower clusters of liatris add extra vibrance and contrasting structure.

Featured plant combination:

Summer border combo


"8 Great Planting Combination Ideas for your Summer Garden"
is a guest blog written by:

Naomi Jones
Author of Garden Nomey blog


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