Doug’s favorite late summer plants

Doug’s favorite late summer plants

I talked about these plants on my Organic Gardener radio show. You can listen anytime here, but it’s live on KDKA radio every Sunday at 7 a.m. Believe it or not, lots of people listen that early. My motto is, if I have to get up, you should too!

I wanted to show you some of the plants which have been mainstays in my garden for late season interest.


Ligularia ‘Britt Marie Crawford’ won’t let you down. Photos by Doug Oster

This shade loving perennial was given to me around 15 years ago, when I worked at the PG. The breeder was trying to get the word out on the variety.

I started by planting it under a maple tree, which was not smart, but I was probably in a rush to get it into the garden and the plants just sat there. A few years later I moved it out to a bed right outside the vegetable garden into open shade and they took off. I’ve never watered it and the deer have never touched it.

The foliage is a combination of dark green, bronze along with purple stems. In late July or early August the orange/yellow, daisy like flowers appear.

I love this plants.


This hardy banana might reach 10 feet by the end of the season.

I wrote this story when I worked for the Trib about Damian Ondo and his love of hardy bananas. He was kind enough to give me a few small starts and they have become a favorite, reaching full size at the end of the summer. The banana gets a few hours of sun in the late morning and has grown to over nine feet tall. It give the landscape a unique tropical feel.

After frost, cut the plant to the ground and cover it with a thick layer of straw, and it’s come up every year since.


Phlox is indestructible and beautiful.

I inherited two beds filled with several varieties of old-fashioned phlox. The deer will nibble on them here and there, but I call it selective pruning as it makes the plants branch and put on more flowers. Phlox grows like a weed and many varieties have a wonderful fragrance.


Anemone ‘Queen Charlotte.’

Often referred to as windflower, anemones can be many colors, sizes and forms. It’s the perfect plant for less than ideal conditions. In the perfect spot, it can be a bully. If you have a problem area with part sun, it’s a great, indestructible plant. ‘Queen Charlotte’ is one of my all time favorites, but there are countless cultivars to try. They will bloom in mid-August and beyond in my zone 5/6 garden.


Rose of Sharon ‘Sugar Tip’

I understand the hate for rose of Sharon, as it makes hundreds, thousands and maybe even millions of babies. ‘Sugar Tip’ is bred to be sterile, so no babies. It has white and green variegated foliage for a long season of interest and pretty, double pink flowers. I love all rose of Sharon, for a variety of reasons, but this one is a stand out for sure.


Balsam ‘Peppermint Stick.’

It was Glenn Ribblett who introduced me to balsam. Basically begging me to grow it and even provided seeds for gardeners years ago. He hoped that others would find the same joy in the plant that he had over the seasons. That’s one of the wonderful things about gardeners, they want others to succeed and love to share. It’s an annual plant that self sows like crazy. The seeds are easy to sow, either inside during the spring under lights or outside in the spring. I’ve grown ‘Camelia Flowered Mix’ and ‘Peppermint Stick’ both from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. The flowers from last year’s camelia mix are popping up throughout the garden.I met Glenn and his wife Phyllis online and after talking to them, visited their garden for this story, back when I was with the Trib.

This is a story that chronicles a lifetime of gardening together and shows how things can change overnight.

These are just a few of the low maintenance, late summer winners in my garden. I’d sure like to hear about your favorites. You can either post in the comments or over at my Facebook page.

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