Summertime has arrived in our area with temperatures soaring into the 90’s. While some of your plants may be showing signs of stress, there are others that thrive in this hot, sunny environment. In fact some of my favorite summer annuals are those that perform well in the garden under these conditions while putting on an amazing show of color.
My first heat loving favorite is angelonia which isn’t familiar to many people. Light and delicate in appearance, this plant is Colorado tough and can take all of the heat you can give it. Sometimes called summer snapdragon because its flowers resemble a smaller version of a snapdragon, it grows well in full sun or part shade. Reaching a height of 18 to 24″, they will put on a glorious show once they begin blooming. They are available in white, pink, and blue/purple shades. Angelonia are easy to care for because they don’t require deadheading, but pinching them back in midsummer by about half will help to control their growth. Be sure to fertilize these plants on a regular basis for an outstanding display of summer color. These plants are best used in containers or as bedding plants.
The second plant you may want to try is lantana. Lantana is an old fashioned favorite and I love them because once they are established, they aren’t fussy and require very little care. They’re a great choice too if you don’t remember to water very often because they will be happy with a good soaking every couple of days. This is a plant that requires deadheading however in order to encourage reblooming. Cut them back by a third and they’ll rebound quickly to bloom again. Unfortunately they can be a magnet for white flies but their aroma and unpleasant taste make them deer resistant.
Portulaca or moss rose is another one of my favorites. This bright little succulent is often used as a ground cover, in a hanging basket, or as a bedding plant and I love using it in a pot on the table on my porch. Best of all, because it is a succulent, it doesn’t take frequent watering. Portulaca is an easy care plant that doesn’t require deadheading. Bright and beautiful, it comes in shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink. This plant stays small – usually 4-8″ and will help attract butterflies to your yard. A close cousin is purslane which is also a great choice for baskets and pots.
Another favorite of mine is flowering vinca. This is a tough, tough little plant despite its delicate appearance. I used to plant it in a flower bed that got constant traffic from my kiddo when he was little along with our dogs and it always popped right back up after being trampled. It stays short reaching a height of only about 10″. Vinca’s dark green foliage and flowers in shades of red, pink and white, make this a great choice for any garden. It is easy care as well because it’s also somewhat drought tolerant and requires no deadheading.
My final heat loving favorites are zinnias. Zinnas have been around forever and you probably saw them in your grandmother’s garden at some point. Zinnias can be easily started from seed and are available in a wide range of colors and heights. They will require deadheading to perform at their best and will love all the heat and sunshine you can provide. They are going to need more water than some of the others I’ve mentioned, but the show they put on will be worth it.
In our high, dry Southwestern climate, beat the heat by including one of these heat loving, drought tolerant favorites in your landscape for a burst of color that will last throughout the summer!