I adore flowering annual plants and have eight large pots lining my patio. They provide delightful color all summer. However, many annual flowers are not particularly heat tolerant, and stop growing and flowering during the hottest part of summer. The trick is selecting only types and cultivars that are heat tolerant.
My top five favorite annuals that do not fail even in hot summer weather:
• Wave petunias and others: I am a huge fan of Wave petunias and have talked about them at length. They still cannot be beat for their ability to keep flowering throughout the hot summer and early fall. I favor Easy Wave petunias because they have a more mounded trailing habit and don’t become as leggy in late summer. They are available in colors like pinks, purples, red, burgundy, yellow, coral, plum and white.
Despite my devotion to Wave petunias, I still like to give other petunias a try. The Charm series from Proven Winners also has excellent heat tolerance and a mounded, trailing habit. I am charmed because even though the flowers are relatively small, the plants stay covered with colorful blooms all season. This year, I am growing Rose Blast Charm with bright raspberry and soft pink bicolor flowers.
• Sweet potatoes: These heat-loving vines are prized for the colorful leaves. I tend to stick with the older cultivars: Blackie, with dark purple leaves, and Margarita, with lime-green leaves. However, there are newer cultivars, including the Proven Winners Sweet Caroline and Sweet Caroline Sweetheart series. The cultivars in these series come in foliage colors like light green, dappled green, yellow-green, bronze, dark purple and reddish green.
• Mealy cup sage: While they do not make the color impact of scarlet sage (
), I prefer the heat tolerant mealy cup sage (Salvia farinacea
). They make great upright “thrillers” in containers, are heat tolerant and have few pests. Plus, they are a magnet for bees and butterflies. I usually plant mealy cup sage cultivars with purple-blue flowers, but this year I came across one with white flowers called Evolution White, so I decided to give it a try.
• Lantana: Not that long ago, I told you that I discovered the beauty of the many newer cultivars of lantana. It seems like the hotter it is, the better lantana grows. In milder climates, lantana is a woody perennial, but in our region, they are used as annuals. When plant shopping this year, I could only find a few cultivars of the Proven Winners Bandana series. They are lovely, with vibrant yellow, orange, cherry, white or pink flower clusters that open as one color and then the center flowers turn a different color. The Bandito and Lucky lantana series from other companies are also nice.
• Coleus: The fifth on my list is the heat-and sun-tolerant coleus. Coleus of yesteryear did perform well in heat or full sun. A number of new coleus cultivars are sun tolerant, but they do not stand up well in extreme heat. Plant tags must say heat tolerant, or I will not buy them. I am growing several of the heat-tolerant Proven Winners ColorBlaze coleus series, including Lime Time, Sedona with orange-pink-bronze leaves and Marooned with dark purple leaves.
Those are my top five. What are yours?