Alan’s Plants for August – BBC Gardeners World Magazine

Alan's Plants for August - BBC Gardeners World Magazine

Alan Titchmarsh reveals how to boost your borders and patios, and keep the colour coming well into autumn, by growing some choice plants for late-summer colour.

The best medicine for a flagging August garden is by bringing in plants that flower later in the year.


The bottle brush plant, callistemon, is native to Australia, but the shrubs are now popular ornamental shrubs due to their vivid flower spikes. Grow in a warm, sheltered spot.

Red bristly flowers of the bottle brush plant


The list of plants for late-summer colour wouldn’t be complete without echinaceas. These hardy perennials can be adapted to suit a variety of planting themes, from tropical to prairie.

Pale-pink echinaceas planted with grasses and canna lilies

Lychnis coronaria

Not only do rose campions (Lychnis coronaria) enjoy heat, they thrive in it and will produce the best leaf colour in dry soils. Deadhead the magenta flowers regularly to prolong the display. Hot spots to fill? Take a look at some of our favourite plant combinations for full sun.

Deep-pink rose campion flowers on silver-green foliage


Cape fuchsias (phygelius) are ideal for subtropical borders and pot displays. The flowers should last into September, but you can keep them going with regular deadheading.

Elongate, mauve-pink cape fuchsia flowers


Scented, hardy and reliable herbaceous perennials, phlox are a late-summer essential. Cut back to the ground when the foliage begins turning yellow in late autumn. Enjoy their heady scent by snipping a few stems and popping in a vase.

Vibrant pink phlox flowers


These elegant perennials are a hit with pollinators and are a real feast for the eyes in late-summer. Grow veronicastrum in a moist, well-drained soil and provide with plenty of organic matter.

Pale-pink veronicastrum blooms planted with complementing purple flowers


Bergamot (monarda) produces unmissable mounds of foliage, topped by dazzling blooms in shades of red, pink and purple. The aromatic leaves give off a lovely, spicy fragrance when crushed, too. Here are 10 more plants with scented foliage.

Fiery-red bergamot flowers

Tips for quick garden revival

  • Water your plants in the evening, so that they have all night to take up the water
  • In hot, dry weather, make watering your containers the priority, as they dry out the quickest
  • Look out for and weaken perennial weeds like bindweed and ground elder by pulling off the tops at ground level
  • If you spot annual weeds, pull them up before they have a chance to set seed
  • Don’t water the lawn – you’ll encourage lusher growth that requires more and more water. Instead, leave it to recover in autumn
  • When mowing, don’t go for a close, stubbly crop – leave a few inches on, which will keep it looking greener
  • Avoid watering plants that are past their best, focus instead on what is or has yet to flower