21 Herbs and Vegetables To Plant This August
Are you looking for some vegetables and herbs to plant this August? There are many different options to choose from, despite it being in the summer! In this article, gardening expert Logan Hailey walks through her favorite garden grown herbs and veggies to start planting in the heat of the summer!
Don’t worry, it’s not too late to add fragrant herbs and delicious veggies to your summer gardens! In fact, August can be prime time for planting fast-growing crops for flavorful fall harvests. It’s also a great opportunity to make the most of companion planting for pest-repelling and pollinator-attracting benefits into the autumn months.
Depending on your growing zone, both annual vegetables and perennial herbs can benefit from getting established in the heat of summer’s glory. Northern gardeners may be just getting their tender annuals in the ground while southern growers are planting for autumn harvests.
Anyone who loves to pickle or ferment their harvests will definitely want to take advantage of August-sown herb successions of common herbs like basil, dill, cilantro/coriander, and parsley. This is also a great opportunity to get fall brassicas, greens, and roots in the ground. Let’s dig into the best vegetables and herbs to plant in August based on your region.
Is it Too Late to Plant in August?
There is a common misconception that spring is the only time for planting a garden. In reality, vegetable and herb farmers all over the country are continuously planting crops throughout the year, including during the warm summer months.
If you love herbs and greens, there is a wide array of options for mid-summer sowing:
Hardiness Zones 3-5
In far northern zones 3 through 5, summer has hit its peak glory. These ultracold climates have a short frost-free window, so August is ideal for direct sowing quick-growing annuals like basil, chives, and autumn greens. You can also transplant perennials like rosemary, lavender, sage, and thyme.
Hardiness Zones 6-8
In milder climates like zones 6 through 8, you can seed another round of basil, oregano, dill, kale, radishes, or broccoli to follow up any dwindling plantings from early spring. August is also a great time to establish Mediterranean perennials like rosemary, lavender, and thyme. If you want to grow coriander (the seeds of cilantro), the long, hot days will quickly trigger bolting and seed production.
Hardiness Zones 9-13
In subtropical and tropical zones 9 through 13, you can plant ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, and even garlic for herbal enjoyment. Almost any of the previously mentioned herbs can be grown as perennials in areas with little to no frost. On the veggie side, you may opt for heat-tolerant brassicas and fall carrots. In hot climates, August and September are also great times to establish fruit trees.
Vegetables For August Plantings
As long as you don’t get any mega-heat waves, August can be prime time for establishing your favorite fall veggies. Pay attention to the days to maturity and germination requirements for each crop to make sure you get the timing right.
You will also want to ensure you have reliable irrigation and maybe a little shade cloth to protect baby plants from the harsh sun.
Broccoli can take up to 80 days to mature, so it’s best to get it in the garden in early August so you can enjoy October and November roasts. Summer-planted broccoli often needs to be started indoors in June or July, then transplanted in August.
This ensures that the broccoli develops in warm weather and then flowers during the cooler season.
The best varieties for summer plantings and fall harvests include ‘Belstar’, ‘Marathon’, ‘Sweet Stem’ and ‘BC1611’. The latter two are actually broccolini varieties that offer a continuous harvest of delicious tender broccoli sprouts rather than a big head.
Pro Tip: If you get heavy freezes in the fall, those quicker-maturing “stem broccoli” types ensure that you can enjoy sweet broccoli until the weather goes down below 25°F. Broccolini is actually my preferred way to eat broccoli because it is easier to prepare and produces lots of shoots instead of a single head.
Broccoli’s cauliflower cousins are equally as eager to get established in the late summer. They average 70 to 80 days until harvest and many of the best varieties have equal parts heat tolerance and cold adaptation.
You’ll want to establish seeds in May-June and transplant in the garden around July or August. While cauliflower is frost-tolerant, it’s important to seed early in areas with early freezes because it still needs time to establish its roots and shoots.
Great summer-planted and fall-harvested cauliflower cultivars include ‘Amazing’, ‘Skywalker’, ‘Denali’, ‘Lavender’, ‘Snow Crown’, ‘Bishop’, and ‘Synergy’. For areas with extra hot August weather, try planting ‘Flame Star’ or ‘Vitaverde’ colored cauliflowers.
You are probably noticing the fall brassica pattern by now. Cabbage is another cole crop that makes use of the warm August and September weather to get established before it starts heading up and accumulating sugars in October. Fall cabbages average 50 to 60 days to maturity and tend to perform better than their spring-planted counterparts.
However, prolonged nighttime temperatures under 50°F can cause premature bolting in some varieties. If you think a cold front is coming at the end of the summer, use row covers to protect young cabbage plants.
Fall napa and Chinese cabbage varieties like ‘Miss Hong’, ‘Minuet’, or ‘Bilko’ are perfect for August planting. For classic kraut and storage cabbages, opt for ‘Tiara’, ‘Storage No.4’, ‘Tendersweet’, or ‘Ruby Perfection’.
Purple Daikon Radish
Thanks to their vibrancy and unique flavor, purple daikons are my all time favorite fall root. They are best seeded in the summer and sweetened during the cool weather of fall.
This Korean-type radish is elongated like a white daikon, but with vibrant fuschia tie-dye skin and interior. They maintain their purple color when cooked and add a gorgeous hue to fermented kimchi.
They take longer to grow than your classic salad radishes– around 50 days– however, they reward your patience with a longer storage life and far more flavor. ‘KN Bravo’ is the most commonly grown purple daikon, however some specialty seed companies offer heirloom types.
Swiss chard can be grown virtually year-round in many climates, but early spring successions have often dwindled off by the time August rolls around. Direct seed or transplant into the garden and provide consistent irrigation to enjoy an abundance of rainbow greens by October.
The main advantage of August-planted chard is that you can harvest its outer leaves all the way up until the first hard freeze. You can even grow it as baby greens for a quick 1-month reward! Go for the classic ‘Bright Lights’ rainbow chard variety or select your favorite seed colors on their own.
An underrated crop for succession planting, carrots make great August planted crops. If you truly love the sweet, nutritious roots, you should be sowing them every 2-3 weeks all season long! This means that you will have new carrots coming up just as you begin to harvest the last batch.
Varieties like ‘Bolero’, ‘Narvik’, ‘Napoli’, ‘Dragon’, and ‘Mokum’ are particularly adapted to summer plantings for fall harvests. They take 55-65 days to establish and accumulate extra sugary flavor during the cooling nights of October.
Pro Tip: Carrots are particularly finicky to moisture during their germination. If your region is known for very dry August weather, be sure to overhead irrigate your carrot patch daily and cover with a layer of row fabric directly on the soil surface. Patience and moisture conservation are key to getting the seeds to come up.
One of the most is notoriously cold-tolerant veggies, spinach is a must for August planting. But that doesn’t mean it won’t take advantage of the quick growth opportunities of mid-to-late August! As long as the soil is cooler than 85°F, spinach should germinate just fine.
You can direct seed spinach throughout late summer and early fall to enjoy continuous cuttings. The best cultivars includes ‘Auroch’, ‘Lizard’, ‘Kolibri’, ‘Kookaburra’ and ‘Acadia’. Many of these can even survive through the winter in zones 5 and warmer.
Although they’re most popular in southern cuisine, collard greens can be equally as exciting for northern gardeners. At just 50 to 60 days for maturing, August-planted collards are ready to start harvesting by early October.
Like their cauliflower and broccoli cousins, it’s usually best to start seedlings in May or June. The optimum ambient temperature for collards is around 60 to 70°F but some varieties will still produce a good crop under warm conditions.
Choose ‘Flash’, ‘Hi-Crop’, or ‘Top Bunch’ for nice rounded collard leaves that are slow to bolt and cold-tolerant.
Mustard seeds get all the attention in the condiment world, but mustard greens are actually a nutritional powerhouse that adds a nice peppery flavor to fall meals.
They take just 20-40 days to establish, depending on your preference for baby greens or full-size leaves. ‘Ruby Streaks’, ‘Miz America’, ‘Scarlet Frills’, and ‘Wasabina’ make for delicious colorful, spicy additions to salad mixes and sautes.
You can’t plan for an autumn garden without kale! While some kale plantings last all season long, I often find that my spring-planted kale is a bit tired by the time August rolls around.
Planting a new succession of frost-hardy kale varieties like ‘Winterbor’, ‘Red Russian’, and ‘Black Magic’ ensure that you get delicious fall and winter harvests in one.
Pro Tip: Kale is best enjoyed in late fall when light frosts have allowed sugars to accumulate in the plant’s leaves. About 2 months after planting, begin harvesting outer leaves first and let the inner stems grow into their full curly sweet glory.
Herbs For August Plantings
To make most of your August herbal plantings, be sure you provide ample irrigation to combat dry summer weather. Take advantage of companion planting combos that provide dappled shade for tender herbs to feel protected from the heat.
It’s hard to think of a more heat-tolerant, sun-loving herb than basil. This Italian classic (as well as its Thai and holy basil relatives) will take off like lightning when seeded in August.
If you didn’t start any basil indoors this spring, this is the perfect window of time to sow basil seeds directly in the garden. Warm soil temperatures and loads of sunlight will help seedlings take off super quickly.
With a mid-August sowing, you’ll have an abundance of pesto-ready basil come September. You can continuously harvest this herb until the first frost of fall. If I can anticipate a cold front, I prefer to cut down the whole plant and hang it to dry for winter seasonings.
Pro Tip: Choose slow-to-bolt varieties like ‘Genovese’, ‘Prospera’, and ‘Everleaf’. Harvest the tips regularly to encourage bushier leaf production instead of flowers.
This allium-family perennial will quickly germinate and take root in partially shaded areas of the garden with warm, rich soil. August is a great time to sow clusters of seeds that will be able to establish strong clumps before fall frosts come around.
By late September and early October, you can get your first harvest of garnish-ready leaves. Chives will come back year-after-year in zones 3 through 9. Once mature, they even provide 3-4 harvests per season when cut at ground level.
Fresh lemon balm (Melissa offinalis) leaves make refreshing ice water infusions, relaxing herbal teas, and delicious salad garnishes. The distinct lemony floral flavor stands out on the plate and in the garden.
You can direct seed this easy-to-grow perennial any time from August through early fall. It is a hardy perennial in zones 4 through 9 but should be heavily mulched overwinter in areas that get below 0°F.
Summer cucumbers wouldn’t be the same without dill leaves and seeds. Whether you forgot to seed dill in the spring or you just want a second round for fall, August-sown dill will yield September dill leaf harvests and October seed harvests that are just in time for pickling and preserving.
Pro Tip: Sow successions of dill every 3-4 weeks throughout the spring and summer. You can start harvesting leaves as soon as the plants are established. Wait to harvest seed heads until the seeds have just started turning golden-brown.
Another garden favorite, parsley can take up to 3 weeks to germinate and 80 days to mature. So, if you want to enjoy parsley-garnished holiday roasts, you’ll need to get started in August! Seed parsley directly in the garden in moist, fertile soil. Once established, it will only need occasional irrigation.
You can pull side stalks and leaves as needed throughout the fall. In zones 5 and warmer, parsley may even overwinter as long as it has well-drained soil and mulch.
One of the most classic perennial herbs, Rosemary thrives in the hot, dry slopes of the Mediterranean. Its delicious flavor and the aromatic scent make it a delight in the garden as an ornamental, culinary herb, or even a pest-repelling companion plant.
August is a lovely time to transplant rosemary into your perennial garden beds. You will want to start with rosemary seedlings or established “teenager” plants from a nursery store. Those with the strongest root ball will have the easiest time getting settled into their new home before cold weather arrives.
This hardy evergreen shrub is reliably perennial in zones 6 and warmer. In colder zones, you may want to establish it in a pot that can be brought indoors for the winter.
Like rosemary, lavender is a Mediterranean native that is remarkably resilient in the face of droughts and heat. It even tolerates poor sandy or gravelly soils!
In zones 5 through 8, the best time to transplant young lavender plants is in spring or summer so they have time to establish their roots before frosts come around in the fall.
In zones 9 through 10, hold off on planting your lavender until September or October. Either way, be sure you choose a lavender variety that is suited to your region and preferences.
Coriander (not cilantro!)
In spite of its common pairings with heat-loving tomatoes, cilantro is a cool-weather crop that prefers shorter day lengths. It tends to prematurely bolt (go to seed) during long, hot summer days. But this can actually be a good thing if you want to try your hand at growing coriander!
Coriander is just a fancy name for the seeds of cilantro. If you plant cilantro seeds during August in zones 6 through 9, it will send up small lacy flowers that turn to fragrant seeds come August. You can dry these seeds and grind them for use in any recipe calling for coriander spice.
In cooler climates, you may be able to get away with August-sown cilantro that will stick it out through the heat and provide reliable leaf harvests.
Pro Tip: If you prefer cilantro leaves rather than seeds, try growing it in the dappled shade near trellised tomatoes or cucumbers. Choose bolt-resistant varieties like ‘Calypso’ or ‘Santo’ for delicious fall salsas.
A uniquely knobby root, tumeric typically falls under the herbal category. Traditionally used in Thai or Indian curries, turmeric has also found its way into superfood smoothies, supplements, and veggie dishes.
This heat-loving tropical plant can be grown outside almost year round in zones 8 and warmer. Let the “seed turmeric” nubs (actually pieces of the rhizome) scab over before planting them in your August garden.
In zones 7 and colder, you may need to sprout turmeric roots indoors earlier in the spring or in pots so they have enough time to mature before cold weather hits.
Like turmeric, ginger is a spicy rhizome that absolutely loves hot, sunny weather. It is a long-season annual in zones 8 and colder but will remain perennial in subtropical zones 9 through 12.
Plant ginger rhizome chunks mid-summer in the garden or in containers and begin digging up the roots as soon as a few months later. You can also bring ginger plants inside over winter to allow for larger rhizomes to get established.
It may look like a common ornamental grass, but Lemongrass is a delicious, fragrant, zesty flavoring for soups, curries, and roasts. It loves the hot weather, so it’s best to transplant lemongrass seedlings in early August in a sunny part of the garden with plenty of access to water.
Summer and fall vegetables are amazing on their own, but homegrown herbs and spices take dishes to the next level. If you want to enjoy autumn harvests both, August is perfect for getting both annual and perennial plants established before the weather cools. Surprisingly enough, August can be a great month for some perennial plants too.
Because the soil is warm, you can direct seed most of these crops right into your garden beds. If properly timed, you’ll have plenty of abundance for pickling and preserving to enjoy throughout the winter.