Summer Whites

I have always been attracted to white flowers.  There’s something soothing about them, especially during the hot summer months.   And, while I appreciate colorful annuals and perennials, white blooms make me feel cooler, even if the thermometer says it’s hot.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanilla Strawberry,’ the flowers start out white and turn shades of pink and red later in the fall.

Below is a list of some of my favorite summer whites growing at Gibbs Gardens, including shrubs, trees, annuals and perennials.  If you are looking for ways to cool off, consider adding some white flowers to your garden.  Gray foliage makes a good companion for white flowers and can also provide a transition between masses of bright colors in your landscape.

Shrubs and Trees

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Diana’ – This stalwart shrub pumps out white flowers for weeks in summer.  Reported to be sterile, it sets very few seeds.

Hibiscus ‘Diana’ blooming in August.

Hydrangea paniculata – There are numerous selections with white flowers. An old-fashioned plant, it is also known as the pee gee hydrangea.  This species and its different forms thrive in full sun.  I especially like ‘Limelight’ with flowers that start out chartreuse before they turn white.   ‘Tardiva’ has been around for a long time, but is still a favorite of mine for its late season white cone flowers (August) and its toughness.  If it gets too dry, it will droop, but all it takes is some water and it quickly bounces back.

Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez’ – This crape myrtle gets to be the size of a small tree.  It has beautiful white flowers and striking cinnamon bark that glistens in the winter landscape.  Give it plenty of space.


Gaura lindheimeri – A tough perennial, butterfly gaura is native to Texas and Louisiana.  Once established, it is drought tolerant.  Thriving in heat and humidity, it grows 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.  The white to pink flowers occur on airy stems.   At Gibbs Gardens, we pair it with lambs ears, duranta and begonias.  Look for it near the Gazebo.

Gaura linheimeri
Gaura linheimeri

Kalimeris pinnitifida – Also known as the double Japanese aster, this perennial produces masses of 1inch double white daisies with a yellow center.  It grows 2 to 3 feet tall and provides a great filler in the perennial or annual garden.  Plant it in full sun or part shade.

Kalimeris with lambs ears.


 Begonias – Wax begonias are great for lighting up the shade garden, with white green and white Caladiums.  This combination looks great for months.

Caladiums and wax begonias, a perfect combination for shade.

Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ – This drought tolerant annual reminds me of Baby’s Breath and blooms until frost.  Great for a filler in the border or in containers.

During the hot summer months, it’s best to plan your garden work and visits during the early morning hours.  Visit the Gardens this summer and enjoy a cool morning stroll between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.