What to Plant in Late August?

by Khirstie Evangelista
gardening in August
Ah, late August! That magical time when summer is almost giving its farewell, but the gardening enthusiasm is still high. Ever wondered what you can still plant during this period?

Benefits of Late Planting

Late planting is often overlooked, but it carries with it a myriad of advantages that can elevate the gardening experience for both novices and experts. The subtle magic of sowing seeds when the summer sun begins to wane has perks that are both immediate and far-reaching. Not only does it extend your gardening season, but it also gives you a head start for spring.

You see, when you plant in late summer, you're allowing certain crops and plants to establish strong roots before the winter chills, ensuring a robust growth once spring arrives.

  1. Extended Gardening Season: For the passionate gardener, every opportunity to engage with the soil and plants is a cherished moment. Late planting provides just that. By introducing new plants as others are completing their life cycle, you stretch out the gardening season, ensuring that your garden remains vibrant and productive for longer. It's like getting an extra chapter in your favorite book.

  2. A Leap into Spring: Think of late planting as setting an alarm clock for nature. As other gardens are just waking up from winter's slumber, yours is already bustling with life. Planting late essentially preps your garden for an early spring. This can be especially beneficial if you're looking to have early harvests or vibrant blooms when everyone else is just getting started.

  3. Strengthening Roots: This is where the real magic happens. By planting in late summer or early autumn, the ground is still warm, encouraging root growth. Plants use this time to establish a strong root system, which becomes their lifeline during the cold months. Instead of focusing on shoots or flowers, the plants channel their energy underground, building a solid foundation.

  4. Robust Spring Growth: All the groundwork done in late summer pays dividends in spring. With an already established root system, plants can focus on vertical growth, flowering, and fruiting. This means healthier plants, more bountiful yields, and, in many cases, earlier harvests. It's like giving your plants a head start in a marathon.

  5. Nature's Rhythm: Late planting also aligns with the natural rhythms of certain plants. Some perennials and biennials naturally sow their seeds in the fall, allowing them to start life in the spring. By planting late, you're essentially mimicking this natural cycle, ensuring that the plants grow in conditions they're evolutionarily adapted to.

Considerations Before Planting

Gardening is an intricate balance of art and science, where timing plays a pivotal role. Every plant follows its own rhythm, from germination to flowering, and aligning your planting schedule with these natural cycles increases the chances of success. Planting too early or late can expose plants to unfavorable conditions, potentially hindering growth or even causing their demise.

A primary concern for gardeners is ensuring that new plants have sufficient time to mature before the season's first frost. This pivotal event can severely damage or kill plants, especially if they haven't reached a level of maturity that allows them to withstand the chill. By understanding the average frost dates in one's region, gardeners can gauge the best planting windows. However, it's essential to remember that these dates are general guidelines, and microclimates within individual gardens can create variations.

Nature's unpredictability means that even with meticulous planning, unexpected weather changes can occur. As such, gardeners should always have contingency plans, whether that means employing frost cloths, utilizing greenhouses, or temporarily moving plants indoors. Knowledge of one's garden, combined with an understanding of plant cycles and regional frost dates, is the foundation for a thriving garden.

Cool-Season Crops

As the scorching heat of summer begins to mellow into the cool embrace of late August and early fall, it presents an opportune time for garden enthusiasts to bring forth a verdant burst of cool-season crops. These veggies not only thrive in cooler temperatures but also bring with them a myriad of health benefits and flavors. Here's a look into some of these wonderful additions you can consider for your garden:


If you're looking for instant gratification in your gardening endeavors, radishes are the way to go. As quick-growers, they transition from seed to harvest in a blink of an eye, taking mere weeks to mature. And the best part? The lowering temperatures of late summer enhance their texture, giving them a crispy crunch.
Moreover, the coolness imparts a spicier zing to them, making them a flavorful addition to salads and dishes. Just picture yourself plucking them out on a crisp autumn morning!


The tender leaves of lettuce find their sweet spot in the cooling embrace of late summer. Unlike the harsh heat which can make them bolt and turn bitter, the moderated climate ensures they remain tender and sweet. So, if you sow them during the tail end of August, you're setting yourself up for many fresh, home-grown salads. Their rapid growth ensures that they're ready to grace your dinner table with their freshness in a short span.


Another champion of the cool season is spinach. This green leafy powerhouse is not just a treat for the eyes but also a boon for your health. Packed with iron, vitamins, and a plethora of nutrients, spinach sown in late August grows to be especially lush and tender.
It's a versatile vegetable, perfect for salads, smoothies, and many a culinary delicacy. Planting it now ensures you get a nutrient-rich yield, ready to be added to your meals for that extra health kick.


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Perennials for August Planting

Planting perennials in late summer can be a gift that keeps on giving. By setting their roots now, these plants will ensure your garden remains vibrant for years to come.

Flowering Perennials

The thought of a garden bursting with colors and blossoms is a dream for many, and perennials like asters and mums can turn that dream into a reality. When planted in the waning days of summer, these flowering plants take the time to nestle into the soil, preparing themselves for the cold winter ahead. Their dormancy period during the cooler months is a phase of internal growth and rejuvenation.

As winter fades and spring makes its entrance, these perennials emerge from their slumber, rewarding the patient gardener with a riot of stunning flowers. They not only add aesthetic appeal but also bring in pollinators, enhancing the overall health of the garden ecosystem.

Shrubs and Trees

Beyond the blooms, late August is also the opportune moment to introduce certain shrubs and trees to your garden. These larger plant varieties, with their extensive root systems, benefit significantly from the cooler temperatures that follow the hot summer months. Planting them now gives their roots a chance to spread out and establish a firm grip in the soil. This foundational growth ensures that they are well-prepared to face the seasonal changes, ultimately leading to healthier and more resilient plants.

Come next year, you'll have a garden with robust shrubs and trees that not only offer shade and structure but also play a vital role in the garden's microclimate and habitat.

In essence, the strategic planting of perennials, shrubs, and trees in late August can set the stage for a flourishing garden in the subsequent years. It's a testament to the idea that in gardening, as in life, some of the most beautiful things require patience, foresight, and a touch of love.

Care Tips for Late August Planting

Late summer planting can be a tremendously rewarding endeavor, setting the foundation for robust growth in the seasons to follow. However, it also comes with its unique set of challenges. Addressing these effectively ensures that your plants have the best chance to thrive and flourish. Here's how:


vegetable garden
As August winds down, one could be lulled into believing that the challenges of summer are behind us. Yet, the sun can often retain its intensity, leading to potentially harmful conditions for young plants.
Hydration becomes the lifeline for these nascent greens. Regular and deep watering is essential, particularly during the initial weeks after planting. This not only quenches the plant's thirst but also promotes deeper root growth, allowing the plant to access moisture from further beneath the soil's surface.
However, it's crucial to strike a balance; overwatering can be just as detrimental as under-watering. The key is to maintain consistent soil moisture, ensuring it's neither waterlogged nor bone dry.

Pests and Diseases

garden pests and diseases
The transitional period of late August, with its blend of warm days and cooler nights, can inadvertently become a haven for various garden adversaries. From aphids and caterpillars to fungal diseases, the threats can be manifold.
Regular monitoring is your first line of defense. By routinely inspecting your plants, you can catch early signs of infestations or diseases, allowing for timely interventions. Depending on the issue, solutions could range from natural predators like ladybugs for aphids to organic fungicides for mildew.
Preventive measures, such as proper plant spacing to ensure good air circulation and cleaning up garden debris, can also reduce the chances of outbreaks.


Late August planting requires a delicate touch and keen observation. While the promise of future growth and blooms is exciting, it's the meticulous care in these initial stages that paves the way for a garden's success. Whether it's ensuring proper hydration or vigilantly guarding against pests and diseases, a gardener's proactive approach during this period will undoubtedly bear fruit in the seasons to come.

So, there you have it! A handy guide for all the green-thumbs wondering about late August planting. Remember, gardening is all about experimentation and learning. So, why not give it a go and see what thrives in your plot this season?


Can I plant tomatoes in late August?
While it's late for tomatoes, certain varieties might still thrive if you have a longer growing season ahead.

How often should I water the new plants?
It's essential to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Check every morning and water as needed.

When can I expect to harvest my cool-season crops?
Depending on the vegetable, you can expect harvest times anywhere from 4 weeks (like radishes) to 2-3 months.

Are there any perennials I should avoid planting in August?
It's best to check with local nurseries or gardening experts, as this can vary based on your zone.

Why is late August considered good for planting trees?
This time allows the trees to establish roots before winter, giving them a strong start for the next growing season.