chicago plants

If you’re thinking about updating your summer landscaping, it’s important to remember that despite the freezing cold winters in the Windy City, Chicago’s summers can be downright brutal. Below, you can learn more about some ornamental plants – trees, bushes, and flowers – that will absolutely thrive in the hot Chicago summer months.


Hellebore is a beautiful option for landscaping in Chicago because it will provide visual interest all year round. In the summer, its long-blooming bright pink flowers add ever-important color while the bright green leaves stay green throughout the winter months. Hellebore performs best in partial shade, and it’s a perennial, so it will bloom again and again as long as it is maintained.


If part of your space is always in full sun, it’s important to find plants that can tolerate those rays without being burned to a crisp. Coneflower is by far one of the best choices here, and the droop-petal coneflowers are actually native to the Chicago area! They come in a wide range of colors, they bloom all summer long, and they will absolutely thrive if left to bake in the hot summer sun. You can expect them to grow to anywhere from 12 to 24 inches tall and about a foot wide, so make sure you plan adequate space.

Smoke Bush

If you’re looking to incorporate some greenery into your landscape, the smoke bush shrub is a fantastic option. It changes color throughout the season – from a stunning coral pink to a golden cream – so there’s always some visual interest. While the smoke bush thrives in full sun, it also fares well in only partial sun, so you can be fairly flexible with its placement.

Creeping Lilyturf

If you’re looking for groundcover with pizzazz, look no further than creeping lilyturf! It looks very much like ornamental grass, and it can survive virtually anything the Chicago climate can throw at it. When the wind blows and the lilyturf moves, its beautiful shine is noticeable from hundreds of feet away. Just be careful when planting; you’ll want to make proper use of edging to keep it within its boundaries. Otherwise, it can easily take over your entire space.


No summer landscape is complete without some hosta, and there are dozens of varieties that fare exceptionally well in the brutal summer heat. These are considered fail-safes because even if you have never grown a plant in your life, you will struggle to kill them. They will survive virtually any imaginable condition, but if you want them to look their absolute best, plant them in a mostly shady area that receives a few hours of indirect sunlight each day.

Whether you’re looking for bold, bright color, evergreen foliage, or even conversation-starting groundcover, these five plants are perfect for Chicago summers – even if you’re not much of a gardener. They’ll look great all summer long, and in many cases, they’ll continue to provide visual interest all year, too!