August is a great time for planting a variety of different vegetables and flowers – so this article should definitely help you. I was born in August so it’s my favorite month 🙂
August is a good time to plant vegetables such as carrots, spinach and beets, and flowers like snowdrops, tulips and daffodils. You can also plant many bulbs and seeds in pots, like parsley and sage. However, it’s not recommended to plant trees and shrubs in August, especially fruit trees.
Let’s look at all of this in more detail – and drill down (pun intended) into what you can and can’t plant in the beautiful month of August…
Is August a Good Month For Planting?
If you want a late fall or winter harvest, August is a great time to get planting in your yard. You can also plan ahead by getting your spring flowers ready now. You’ll be pleased you did, when your garden bursts into color next April.
As it’s pretty late in the year for planting, you’ll need to make sure your tender new crops won’t be affected by frost. We always say that the best way to do this is to work out when your first frost normally occurs, then count backwards. So say your first frost typically happens in the middle of November, you’ll need to plant a 12-week crop (like potatoes) in early August.
You also need to know your local climate. For example, the scorching summers in the south make August planting quite tricky: it’s perfectly possible, but you’ll need to spend a lot more time watering tender young growth than northern gardeners will.
Each region has its own climate, and the more you know about yours, the more successful your gardening ventures will be.Before you start, take a look at the USDA plant hardiness zone map. This is a standardized guide to planting and plant care that all gardeners and growers use, and it’s really well explained in this short film.
Knowing your zone will help you choose the right plants and take care of them appropriately. We’ll talk pretty generally about August gardening in this article. Please adjust our recommendations for your own hardiness zone.
What Flowers Can You Plant in August?
In most regions, August is a good time to get ready for the spring. It won’t take long to get a few bulbs in the soil, and you’ll be really pleased that you did when those early blooms start to brighten your still-wintry garden. Here are a few of our favorite flowers for August planting:
- Daffodils. These much-loved spring flowers grow from bulbs, which depending on your climate, can be planted in August and September. They should bloom in early spring
- Tulips. Like daffodils, get these bulbs in the ground now for a gorgeously colorful display next year. Choose a range of shades for a spectacular effect
- Iris. Plant iris tubers in August, so they have plenty of chance to bed in before the frosts. These should produce beautiful blooms in the early spring
- Peonies.These are typically planted in the fall for a spring blooming. However, if it’s not too hot, you can plant them towards late August, giving them the best chance of establishing their roots before the frosts
You can also plant flowers that will bloom during the fall and even the winter.
- Chrysanthemums. These are fall-flowering plants, which can be planted into moist soil in August for a display that runs from late September until the first frost
- Autumn crocus. Plant the bulbs in the ground in August, and you should see some pretty pink flowers in the fall. Interestingly, the foliage doesn’t grow until the spring: you’ll just get the flowers on bare stems in the the fall
- Snowdrops. These are for the cooler regions only. Plant the bulbs in a shady spot in late summer or early fall. They’ll be one of the first flowers to welcome in the spring, often pushing their way through the snow
What Vegetables Can You Plant in August?
There are lots of vegetables that can be planted in August. If you follow the “counting backwards” rule, an early August planting session could result in a table groaning with home-grown produce for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
It’s too late to plant from seeds in most cases, so we’re talking about planting seedlings, baby plants. You may have already grown seeds to seedling stage yourself, or you can pick up young plants in your garden center.
Again, check your local growing advice and hardiness zone; but in general, here are some good crops to get in the ground in August.
- Brassicas. You can plant so much from this iron-rich family at this time of year. Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, broccoli… All should do well planted in August, and will give you a fabulous late-fall harvest
- Kale. Yes, this is a brassica too, but it’s a super-tough one, and can even grow during the winter under some fleece. It’s one of those plants that tastes better if it grows through a frost. If you want fresh greens in the winter, plant some kale now
- Carrots. Again, these seem to taste sweeter after exposure to frost
- Spinach. Plant it now for an October harvest. If you grow it under cover, it should grow throughout the winter
- Beets. These need to be planted in the late summer if you want the tasty roots (the beetroot) to develop. If you plant them in the fall, you’ll only get the leaves
- Lettuce. This plant is tougher than it looks. Plant it in August for lovely fall salads. Try Winter Density for a really hardy variety
- Potatoes. This really depends on where you live. If your frosts are late in the season, you can plant seed potatoes in early August for November harvest. However in many regions, this may still be a bit too late.
What Fruits Can I Plant Out in August?
August is still a bit too early to plant most fruit trees and shrubs. Trees need to be planted well before the first frost, to give their root systems time to settle before the ground hardens.
You can plant fruit trees in the late summer, provided you’re willing to put in the time and effort to keep the soil moist. The soft but damp ground of the fall is the ideal time to plant fruit trees, so just wait a couple more weeks before you start digging.
What Can You Plant in Pots in August?
You can plant plenty of food crops and flowers into pots in August, even outdoors. Here are a few you can try:
- Lettuce. Grow a large pot of lettuces to keep by the kitchen door, for easy-to-grab leaves throughout the fall
- Herbs. Try an herb garden in a pot, full of wonderfully aromatic plants like oregano, parsley, cilantro, and thyme
- Bulbs for the spring. Plant daffodils and tulips into pots to be ready for next season
- Vegetables such as kale, carrots and beets can be grown in large, deep containers
Can I Plant Seeds & Bulbs in August?
Yes, you can plant bulbs in August. As we already discussed, it’s a great time to get your flowers ready for the spring. Daffodil and tulip bulbs are great favorites among most gardeners, and you can also plant autumn crocuses and snowdrops for the fall and winter.
Seeds are a bit trickier. It’s hard to imagine on a hot August day; however, those pesky frosts are growing closer… Only plant seeds now if you know they will either grow to harvest level in the next 6-8 weeks, or if they will survive a winter underground, ready for the spring. Try poppies, coneflowers, and calendula seeds for a springtime display.
Can You Plant Trees & Shrubs in August?
August isn’t the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Young trees need plenty of time to establish their root systems, so yes, you do need to get them in the ground well before the first frost. However, they also need plenty of water to keep the soil moist, and that’s harder to come by in August than October.
Our rule has always been: when the leaves start to fall, it’s time to plant new trees. The fall provides the young tree with rich, moist soil, and the tree or shrub has plenty of time to stretch out those roots before the ground hardens.
If you have to plant a tree or a shrub in August, you’ll need to commit to regular watering. If you can, wait a few more weeks until the weather naturally turns cooler and wetter.
What Herbs Can I Plant in August?
There’s a great choice of herbs that thrive if planted in August and the early fall. You could try:
And of course, you can grow most herbs on the windowsill at any time of year.
Rounding Up: What Jobs Can I Do in The Garden in August?
Well, we reckon the best garden jobs in August involve cooking and eating outside in your yard! Make the most of the warm weather by relaxing in a shady spot with a cool drink, or firing up the grill for a barbecue with friends.
In August, yard jobs involve making sure your plants stay healthy in warmer weather, and keeping on top of feeding and watering them. And of course, there’s the regular grill cleaning after those barbecues…
If you want a larger yard project in August, check that everything is ready for the fall. Make sure that gutters and drains are clear and working: you don’t want all those leaves descending on an already-blocked drainage system.
Want to know what you can plant in September? Read the next article in our planting calendar…
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >