Plan for a summer full of rich, vibrant color when you plant annuals in your flower beds and containers. Sure, they last just one season, but they will give you all they’ve got all season long, right up until frost.
Unlike perennials that will go dormant in fall and winter and pop up again in spring, annuals only last the summer, but they will dazzle throughout the season, adding brilliant colors and textures to your garden. Annuals are bred for color and performance in the toughest summertime conditions. You’re probably familiar with popular blooms like marigolds, begonias, impatiens, petunias, vinca and zinnia. They’re all easy to care for and reliable performers.
Here’s temptation: more varieties that may be new to you to try this summer. Keep in mind that the selection in the Garden Center varies and not all varieties are available when you visit your local store.
Try These Heat-Tolerant Annuals
1. Salvia is a pollinator magnet and your best friend in the garden in the oppressive heat of summer. You’ve seen the bright red spikes of salvia for years, and there will always be a place for them. This year, try a new variety, like Proven Winners’ Rockin’ Fuchsia Salvia (shown above) and wait for the hummingbirds and butterflies to arrive.
Salvia grows about 24 to 36 inches high and is self-cleaning, so it doesn’t need deadheading. If deer are a problem in your garden, note that salvia plants are deer-resistant, too.
2. Lantana packs a lot of punch with bright clusters of flowers and crisp green foliage. Give it good garden soil with adequate drainage, then let it show off in citrus-y hues of lemon, orange and red. Plant this performer in full sun and give it room to grow. Some will get up to 18 inches high and three feet wide. Note that lantana leaves may be toxic to pets.
Lantana, like Proven Winners’ Citrus Blend, are drought tolerant and do not need deadheading. Although treated as an annual, lantana is a tender perennial that may come back in your zone 9 or even zone 8 garden, depending on your microclimate.
3. Evolvulus (dwarf morning glory) has a true blue bloom and the hotter it gets, the better this plant performs. Look for Proven Winners’ Blue My Mind in the Garden Center or online. Dwarf morning glory makes a grand groundcover, but look to it, too, to perform in containers. With white pentas and red calibrachoas, you’ll have a star-spangled 4th of July display.
4. Celosia, also called cock’s comb, is a showy annual known for its feathery plumes or crests in candy colors. Seedlings will give instant color to your flower beds, but celosia is also easy to grow from seed — just begin four to eight weeks before you’re ready to plant. Give celosia nutrient-rich garden soil amended with organic compost.
5. Euphorbia’s clouds of white blooms are the perfect filler for your containers or garden bed, making whatever is around them even more special. Look for Proven Winners’ Diamond Frost euphorbia (shown above) and plant in partial to full sun, in average soil with good drainage. It can handle heat and drought, and grows to about 18 inches tall.
6. Cuphea (firecracker plant) deserves a place in your summer garden, either as a statement flower in containers, or a jubilant mass planting. Proven Winners’ Vermillionaire cuphea (shown above) is loaded with orange blooms that are a siren song for hummingbirds. Cuphea thrives in full sun and average soil. It’s also hardy to zone 8, good news for Southern gardeners.
7. Portulaca, moss rose, is a classic for a reason. It offers brightly colored, low-growing flowers and needle-like foliage on the hottest days of summer. In the afternoons, blooms will fold up, but open again the next morning. Moss rose can handle summer’s hottest days and even a bit of neglect from the watering hose. It doesn’t need deadheading, either. Try it in terra cotta containers, even strawberry jars, on a patio this summer.
8. Pentas thrives in summer heat and humidity. The flower clusters bloom in shades of pink, white and red. The red and white blooms are tailor-made for an Independence Day container, just add a blue morning glory like Blue My Mind.
For more garden inspiration, read about 6 Best Plants for Hell Strip Gardening.