Summer heat does not have to be a problem for your flower garden.
Summer heat can devastate a flower garden if you plant the wrong flowers. Not all flowers suffer during summer’s scorching heat waves however. Here are six colorful annual flowers that can take the heat and continue to produce vibrant flowers all summer long. Some of the flowers offer added benefits of attracting hummingbirds and butterflies for added color and interest.
Blue Mist Flower (Ageratum houstonianum):
Heat is no problem for Blue Mist Flower. Puffy clouds of blue flowers cover the plant all summer long and continue to the first frost. Ageratum is native to Mexico and Central America and can really take the heat. Several varieties of Blue Mist Flower are available from garden centers and seed catalogs. Some varieties, like Ageratum ‘Blue Danube’ grow only grow six inches tall while Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’ grows up to 30 inches tall. Shorter varieties are perfect for edging flower beds while taller types are good choices for the middle of beds and useful as cut flowers. Seeds are available from Burpee.com. Blue Mist Flower performs best in full sun but will tolerate some shade.
Blanket Flower (Gailardia pulchella)
Blanket Flower is a refined native American wildflower that has become become increasingly popular recently. Flowers are a bicolor mix of orange and red in exotic combinations that some say resemble the intricate designs of native American rugs and blankets. Over the past several years, plant breeders have expanded the color range of Blanket Flower to include orange, tangerine, and burgundy. Gailardia ‘Goblin’ is a dwarf floriferous variety, 8-10 inches tall, with orange and red flowers that bloom all summer and early fall. Plant in a sunny spot. Gailardia will grow in hot, inhospitable places where other plants fail (even Iraq)! Survives periodic drought once established. Plant in the spring or fall from six-packs, quart pots, or 1 gallon containers. It can be grown from seed, too. For best results, plant in full sun.
Madagascar Periwinkle or Vinca (Catharanthus roseus)
Madagascar Periwinkle (also known as Vinca) features dainty five-petaled flowers that adorn glossy green leaves all season. Flowers of Madagascar Periwinkle include pink, deep rose, red, blush, scarlet, white, white with a red-eye, lavender blue, peach, apricot, orchid, and burgundy. Plants grow about 12 inches tall and wide. Madagascar Periwinkle is best used to create splashes or masses of color in flower beds. Plant in well-drained soil and water once a week once the plants are established. Plant in a different place each year to avoid disease problems. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Plant from six-packs or larger pots in spring or summer. Madagascar Periwinkle may live over the winter in mild climates. Plant in full sun to partial shade.
Lantana (Lantana camara)
Bright, colorful flowers cover Lantana plants throughout the summer. Flower color ranges from orange and red bicolor combinations, pink, red, orange, yellow, and gold. Some spreading varieties even have purple and white flowers. Lantana thrives in the heat and tolerates dry deserts or hot, humid climates with ease. Butterflies love the nectar-rich flowers and birds eat the shiny black fruits. Plant Lantana from 4 inch pots or 1 gallon containers in the spring and watch it take off during the heat of summer. Each plant can spread to 2 feet across and 1 or more feet tall in one season. Some of the best varieties of Lantana are ‘New Gold’ (yellow), Pinkie (pink and cream), and ‘Dallas Red’ (reddest of all Lantana). In USDA climate zones 9 to 11, Lantana is an evergreen shrub and will live for many years. In colder climates, Lantana makes a great addition to a flower garden. Lantana tolerates drought but it needs lots of sun to make the most flower blossoms.
Moss Rose (Portulaca)
Moss Rose is an annual succulent spreading groundcover with that bears bright ruffled flowers in a range of appealing colors. The most popular colors of moss rose include chiffon pink, peach, sunny yellow and ivory. Plants grow between 4 and 8 inches tall and spread 12 to 18 inches. Plant at the front of a flower bed or plant in between shrubs. They can even be planted in pots and allowed to trail over the edge to soften the rim of the container and add drama to a mixed planting. Moss rose is one of the easiest annual flowers to grow and Moss Rose is grown inexpensively from seed. Renee’s garden sells seeds of the “Pastel Sundial” mix which features large semi-double flowers. Plant in full sun. Drought tolerant.
Angelonia is a bushy annual flower that loves hot summers and rewards gardeners with lots of lovely orchid-like flowers. Recent innovation in breeding have produced new shades of purple, lavender, pink and white flowers. Hummingbirds flock to the sweet nectar in the flowers. Angelonia plants grows anywhere from 14 to 24 inches tall depending on the variety. The ‘Serina’ series produces smaller, more compact plants while ‘Angel Face’ by Proven Winners grows up to 2 feet in height. Angelonia ‘Serina’ was named a Louisiana Super Plant for 2011 due to its excellent performance in the heat. Use the taller varieties in the middle of pots and container gardens. Smaller varieties work well in flower beds. Water regularly if rainfall is sparse.
For Best Results
A little soil preparation goes a long way. To get the most out of your flower garden, amend the soil with compost before planting. Compost helps improve the soil, increases drainage and water retention, adds nutrients, and helps cultivate healthy soil microorganisms. Healthy soil helps plants do their best under adverse conditions, like summer heat waves and drought. Soil preparation is a secret that professional gardeners use to make sure their gardens do at their peak and produce the most color possible.
Summer can be tough on plants. By selecting plants that can tolerate and thrive in the heat, your garden can give color through the ‘dog days’ of summer. Try some the plants featured in your next planting.