Several years ago, the National Garden Bureau issued a list of plants that will withstand dry, hot summers. Once again we share some of them with our readers.
Long lasting annuals or perennials have many similar qualities. They are heat tolerant and drought tolerant. Some of these are best grown from seed. Some searching may be needed to find sources of seed or plants, but the search will reward you with enduring plants and flowers next summer.
Among the best are:
Begonias – Fibrous rooted or wax begonias. Native to the tropics, these plants have either green or bronze foliage. Once established, these plants are durable and need less water than other annuals. They are reliable bloomers in full sun to partial shade. Flower colors are pink, rose, white and bicolors.
Butterfly Weed – Asclepias. This perennial is native to North America and gets its name because it’s attractive to butterflies. Growing two to three feet tall, its blooms can be cut and used in arrangements.
Cleome – Spider plant. This tall plant is native to the Caribbean and thrives on hot, dry conditions. It can reach up to six feet tall in full sun. Colors are limited to violet, rose and white.
Coreopsis – Pot of gold. Native to North America, these yellow or red daisy-like flowers will grace a garden all summer and fall.
Cosmos – Mexican aster. Native to Mexico, these plants range from a dwarf form of 12 inches in height to a bushy six feet tall. Very heat and drought tolerant, cosmos prefer infertile but well drained soil for prolific blooms. Cosmos are available in a wide color range from yellow to scarlet, to pink, rose and white.
Globe Amaranth – Gomphrena globosa. This annual is native to the tropics. There are dwarf varieties, as well as taller ones that reach up to two feet. New colors include lavender, rose, pink, and strawberry.
Nicotiana – Flowering tobacco. Bursts of tubular, star-shaped blooms are held above the lush green foliage. Plant height can be dwarf, bushy bedding plants or up to six feet. Native to South America, Nicotiana is an annual to Zone10 where it is a perennial. Flower colors are pink, rose, red, lime, or white. Breeders are working on new colors.
Sunflowers – Helianthus. Sometimes “planted” by squirrels or chipmunks, these native North American flowers are available in white, bronze and cream colors in addition to the traditional yellow. Heights range from one foot to ten feet tall. Sunflowers tolerate heat and poor soil. Easy to grow from seed, these are popular as cut flowers.
Zinnia. Native to Mexico, zinnia plants prefer hot and dry weather once they are established in the garden. A wide range of colors and height is available. Zinnias are easy to grow from seed.
If you are disappointed with your flower garden this summer, try some of these durable annuals or perennials next year. Some plants are more foolproof than others. Using this group of flowers should help you be more satisfied with the results of your garden dream.
(With thanks to the National Garden Bureau. Learn more at www.ngb.org.)