Late summer and early fall can be challenging times for Southern California gardeners, usually the hottest months of the year, but also the time when we move to outdoor living and want our gardens to shine.

In the months of August and September, it’s neither too late for summer nor too early for fall to plant two of our color favorites, Salvia (salvation in blues, purples and pinks) and Rudbeckia, commonly called Gloriosa Daisies (Glory in shades of yellow and orange).

Gloriosa Daisy

The Salvia family is a big one, so we have selected some of the best to recommend for your success. In general, Salvias will naturalize in the garden, need little maintenance or water, sulk a little in the winter and bloom like crazy with sun and heat. Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ is my own favorite, a recent introduction with compact growth and deep blue flowers.

Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’

Salvia leucantha ‘Santa Barbara’ blooms with purple flowers and will naturalize in the garden for year after year bloom.

Salvia ‘Santa Barbara’

Salvia ‘Waverly’ is taller than the preceding two choices and has blue and white flowers.

Salvia ‘Waverly’

Finally, Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’ produces large, vibrant pink flowers on a relatively small plant.

Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’

I love Rudbeckias because they speak both summer and fall and will bloom from August through October. Once again, there multiple versions, so Rogers has boiled the selection down to a hand full that have proven to be the best. Rudbeckias also make terrific cut flowers.  Rudbeckias want all the sunshine they can get and regular garden water. They also make terrific pot plants.

Starting again with my personal favorite, ‘Irish Eyes’ has tall, strong stems, golden yellow petals and, the source of its charm, a green eye in the center.

Irish Eyes

‘Indian Summer’ has a growth habit similar to ‘Irish eyes,’ but the eye is a rich burgundy brown that compliments the radiant yellow petals.

Indian Summer

‘Denver Daisy’ has a brown eye in the center and the brown color radiates about half way out the yellow petals.

Denver Daisy

‘Tiger Eyes’ is a more compact grower with a brown eye and yellow-orange petals.

Tiger Eyes

If your garden needs a shot of color now, I urge you to look for “salvation and glory” with these sure winners.