In August, many of our flowers are starting to fade for the year. It also is one of our hotter months of the year and it makes it difficult to do much outdoors. However, there are some great plants that start to reach their stride in August and September.

Surprise Lily

Surprise lily is one of my favorite August blooming plants. It is so unique! Surprise Lily is named based on how it grows and blooms. It produces leaves in the spring then goes dormant until it surprises you in the fall with flowers on lonely stalks. The leaves of Surprise Lily are large and strap-like in the spring that fade in May. It looks like the plant has gone dormant for the year with no flowering until August when the light pink, trumpet-shaped flowers appear on a large stalk. Surprise lily is also sometimes called Naked Ladies or Resurrection lily because of how it grows.

Surprise Lily grows best in part shade and average moisture but will tolerate full sun and dry conditions. It grows from a bulb and since the leaves go dormant in June, you need to be sure to mark the location of the bulbs so you don’t damage the plant with summer garden activities. Surprise Lily bulbs can be dug up and divided at least every 5 years. The best time to dig and divide the bulbs is in the late fall, after the flowers have finished blooming. When planting a Surprise Lily, place the bulbs 4-6 inches deep into the soil to ensure best growth, and no additional fertilizer is necessary.

Illinois Bundleflower

Illinois bundleflower is native to the Midwest states, including Nebraska. It is a perennial plant with grooved stems that grow up to three feet tall under normal growing conditions but can grow up to five feet tall under exceptional growing conditions. This perennial has leaves that are bipinnately compound meaning the leaf is divided into leaflets and each leaflet is divided into multiple more leaflets. The overall leaves look almost fernlike. Illinois bundleflower is also called false sensitive plant in some locations because the leaves look and act like the leaves of sensitive plant, which is the plant that folds all its leaflets together when it is touched. 

Illinois bundleflower blooms from June to August with small, one inch, round, white blooms that fluff out around the stalk of the flower bloom. Once the bloom is done, the flower turns into a very unique seedhead and that is the most desirable trait of the plant. The seeds are produced in an interesting pod that is a bunch of flattened, curved pods that are attached in a round shape, it resembles a peach pit. These pods will then stay persistent on the plant into the fall and winter months. 

Native Grasses

Native grasses are also great for the late summer and early fall. They provide us with great fall and winter interest in our otherwise drab landscapes. There are a lot of different plants to choose from for native grasses and they can be used in so many different ways in our landscapes. Some great native grasses for southeast Nebraska include big bluestem, little bluestem, side-oats grama, Northern sea oats, Indiangrass, and prairie dropseed. Native grasses are also great for wildlife through the winter months.

If you have any further questions please contact Nicole Stoner at (402) 223-1384,, visit the Gage County Extension website at, or like my facebook page at and follow me on twitter @Nikki_Stoner 

Nicole Stoner
Extension Educator
Gage County
August 2023