What to Plant in August

It's not too late to plant, even in late summer. You can still grow short-season veggies, herbs and flowers in August from seeds or transplants.

Companion Planting And Leaf Texture

Swiss Chard, Kohlrabi And Kale

Swiss chard, kohlrabi and kale are frost-resistant crops you can plant in August. This kale is a curly purple variety.

Photo by: Staff for Tower Hill Botanic Garden at TowerHillBG.org

Staff for Tower Hill Botanic Garden at TowerHillBG.org

By August, gardeners are busy harvesting, weeding and watering edibles and ornamentals planted earlier in the season. But even in late summer, there's still time to plant delicious, nutritious short-season crops and dress up beds and borders with cool-season flowers. Once you know what to plant in August, you can have a bountiful garden even when the temperatures start to fall — and in some parts of the country, certain plants can overwinter.

How to Know What to Plant in August

Some plants will disappoint you if you wait until August to start them. Vegetables like corn, for example, take a long time to mature, and if planted too late in the growing season, the plants will die when frost hits. The same goes for ornamentals like sunflowers; depending on the variety, they can take 80 to 120 days to go from seed to bloom and will perish when the temperatures drop. In general, USDA Gardening Zones 9 to 11 are exceptions. Their mild winters allow gardeners to grow many veggies, herbs and flowers almost year-round.

To figure out what to plant in August, look up the average first frost date in your region or talk to an agent at your local extension service office. If you're sowing seeds, read the seed packets to see how many days each kind of plant needs to mature and make sure there's enough time for it to produce or bloom before that date.

If there's not enough time to plant from seeds, you can grow some veggies, flowers and herbs from transplants. If your first frost date is approaching and you want to grow plants that can't tolerate cold weather, look for varieties labeled "early maturing."

Fortunately, some ornamentals and edibles can tolerate heavy frost and temperatures below 28 degrees, so they're good candidates for late-season gardens. These include spinach, broccoli, cabbages, kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes and turnips.

Others can take a light frost when the air temperatures range from 28 to 32 degrees. These are lettuce, chard, beets, peas, parsley, cauliflower and more. Beet and carrot tops may die but the roots can survive.

Some flowers can also tolerate mild frosts, such as sweet alyssums, dianthus, calendulas, petunias, Shirley poppies, sweet peas and snapdragons. However, some flowers that prefer cool temperatures won't thrive if your weather in August is still warm or hot. Others that can tolerate a light frost will still die in a freeze.

What to Plant in August in Containers

Even pallets can be transformed into planters to grow vegetables. Here broccoli, lettuce and parsley thrive. 

Upcycled Pallets

For mixed containers, make sure your plants need the same basic amounts of sunlight and water. Use large containers for large, individual plants.

Photo by: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo by Melissa Caughey

For mixed containers, make sure your plants need the same basic amounts of sunlight and water. Use large containers for large, individual plants.

You may be short on garden space if you're still picking and cutting veggies, herbs and flowers in August. Unless your plants are finished and ready to pull anyway, try planting in containers. Pots are especially good for fast-growing radishes, salad greens like lettuce and spinach, and herbs like arugula.

What to Plant in August: Vegetables

Collard Greens with Frost

Collard Greens Can Handle Frost

A light frost isn't always a bad thing. Some greens, like collards, taste better after the first frost.

Photo by: Debbie Wolfe

Debbie Wolfe

A light frost isn't always a bad thing. Some greens, like collards, taste better after the first frost.

Again, be sure the veggies you plant in August have time to mature before the average date of your first frost. Not all the veggies, herbs and flowers listed below can be planted in August in all regions. For example, depending on the variety you're growing, corn can take 60 to 100 days to mature, so only gardeners in the Southwest can sow seeds in August and harvest a crop before frost.

If you don't have time to plant seeds in August, use transplants. Transplants reduce the time plants need to reach maturity. Another option: grow plants that tolerate frost and cold weather. The cold triggers greens like collards, for instance, to convert their starches into sugars so they taste sweeter after frost. These are good candidates for a late summer garden.

Lemon Balm in a Raised Bed with Other Herbs

Lemon Balm Growing in a Raised Bed with Other Herbs Including Tarragon

Mint, thyme, chives, sage, oregano and the lemon balm are cold-hardy herbs that come back as perennials.

Photo by: Shutterstock/redzen2

Shutterstock/redzen2

Mint, thyme, chives, sage, oregano and the lemon balm are cold-hardy herbs that come back as perennials.

What to Plant in August: Herbs

Butterfly on Marigolds

Butterfly on Marigolds

Marigolds in autumnal colors brighten gardens until the first frost. Some may live a little longer if they're well-watered, mulched and protected with frost cloth until the real cold weather arrives.

Photo by: Angie Sparks/American Meadows

Angie Sparks/American Meadows

Marigolds in autumnal colors brighten gardens until the first frost. Some may live a little longer if they're well-watered, mulched and protected with frost cloth until the real cold weather arrives.

What to Plant in August: Flowers

These are perennials unless otherwise noted. As with vegetables and herbs, start with transplants, not seeds, if you expect frost before these flowers have time to bloom.

  • Alyssum
  • Aster
  • Bearded Iris
  • Cleome (annual; hardy in Zones 10-11)
  • Chrysanthemum (hardy or garden mums are perennials; florist mums are hardy in Zones 7 to 9)
  • Daylily
  • Hydrangea
  • Marigold (cold-hardy annual; killed by frost)
  • Pansy (short-lived perennials; usually grown as annuals because they dislike heat)
  • Petunia (tender perennials, hardy in Zones 9 to 11; often grown as annuals)
  • Peony
  • Sedum
  • Snapdragon (tender perennials, hardy in Zones 7 to 11; often grown as annuals)
  • Viola (short-lived perennials; usually grown as annuals because they dislike heat)

Tips for Success for Planting in August

  • Keep your plants watered and mulched.
  • Garden in the morning, when it's cooler and plants are under less stress.
  • Use frost cloth for protection from light frosts.
  • Pot up herbs or flowers you want to overwinter indoors.
  • Remove plants that are dead or finished, and consider planting a cover crop.
  • If your weather is cool enough, plant pansies and violas, flowers that dislike the heat.

Next Up

Companion Planting With Cilantro

Cilantro serves as a powerful companion plant in the vegetable garden, attracting beneficial insects that prey on insect pests of a variety of crops, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, beans and more.

Celebrate Birthdays with Birth Month Flowers

Like gemstones, birthday month flowers have different meanings. Which one is yours?

How to Grow and Harvest Rosemary

If planted in the right spot, rosemary is very easy to grow. Find expert advice and simple ideas for growing and using rosemary plants.

Egyptian Walking Onions

These perennial onions travel across the garden over the years as their ingenious top-set bulblets take root to create new plants. Learn more about this perennial vegetable, including how to grow it in your garden and use it in the kitchen.

Growing Monarda: When to Plant and How to Grow Bee Balm

Your garden will be buzzing—with helpful bees and compliments—when you plant colorful monarda, or bee balm.

How to Grow Pumpkins

These autumn favorites are one of gardening’s most fun plants to grow — and they’re really a cinch. Learn how to plant pumpkins and how to care for a bumper crop in your garden.

How to Replant an Overwintered Pot in Spring or Summer

So, you left your pot filled with tender perennials or annuals outside all winter? Whoops! Don't worry, it happens. We'll show you how to determine which plants are ready for another growing season and how to replace the dearly departed with new plants.

Why Are My Tomato Leaves Turning Yellow?

Tomato leaf discoloration can be caused by a number of factors, including nutrient deficiencies, plant diseases and cultural problems. We’ll help you narrow down the cause of yellowing leaves on your tomato plants and find solutions to help.

How to Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot

Got an ugly black spot on the bottom of your tomatoes? Never fear. It's a common problem that's easier to fix than you might think. HGTV expert Gayla Trail, of YouGrowGirl.com, offers advice.

How to Grow Cucumbers

Get advice for planting, growing and harvesting cucumbers, including suggestions for types and varieties to grow, companion plants, plus tips for solving common cucumber problems.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.