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This week is National Gardening Week, and there’s no better time than early summer to start your very own garden. What are you going to plant, though? Most plants are just like people— they have preferences when it comes to the climate and conditions of their homes. Here are a few flowers, vegetables, and plants that thrive during Southern summers in the River Region (Zone 8A). 

Flowers and Plants

Marigolds grow and thrive in hot climates, and they even do well in areas that don’t get much rain. That means they’re right at home in the River Region! Make sure to water your marigolds at the base to prevent mildew from growing on the leaves and flowers. 

Verbena flowers also thrive in hot and humid climates. Regularly trim verbena to keep the flowers blooming all summer long. 

Gardenias typically flourish in hot, humid climates with lots of sunshine, but they do need a little bit of shade in the afternoons. It’s important to keep the soil damp around gardenias to help them grow well. 

Hydrangeas are beautiful flowers that come in a range of colors, from baby blue to hot pink. They need damp soil and shade in the afternoon. 

Daylilies typically open up in the morning and close at nightfall. They’re very low-maintenance and don’t require a lot of attention. There are several different varieties of daylilies, and they can be pretty fragrant! 

Black-eyed Susans are small wildflowers that grow very well in our Southern climate. They usually do best when they’re planted in their own space because they tend to be competitive and choke out other plants and flowers. Make sure to place these flowers in full sun!  

Geraniums are fragrant and colorful flowers that grow best with lots of light and warm temperatures. Avoid overwatering these flowers— they won’t thrive in soil that’s constantly wet. 

Elephant ear plants are lush and leafy, and they grow well in warm, humid climates. These plants can grow to be very large (over 8 feet per leaf in some cases!), so it’s important to place them in areas with plenty of space. 

Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs

Strawberries are considered to be beginner-friendly since they don’t require a lot of maintenance or attention. They do need direct sunlight for most of the day, and they grow best in raised beds or areas with plenty of drainage. 

Tomatoes are a bit more involved than other vegetables, but they do grow very well in our warm Southern climate. They need direct sunlight during the day, and they need support while growing. You can do this with cages and stakes. 

Summer squash grows excellently during humid Alabama summers. It’s important to plant your squash in fertile soil that drains well. 

Thyme needs lots of sunlight, so it thrives during summers in the River Region. It’s very easy to grow and doesn’t require much attention outside of watering it regularly. 

Basil is extremely low maintenance and doesn’t take up a lot of space. Whether you plant your basil in the ground or in a container, make sure it’s in a spot that gets direct sunlight for most of the day. 

Here are a few local places where you can pick up your plants and flowers this summer: 


Prattville/ Millbrook/ Wetumpka