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Some Like it Hot!

By Paul James

It’s safe to assume that in the weeks ahead, it’s gonna get hotter. Probably a whole lot hotter. And that can take some of the fun out of gardening, which is why I tend to get things done early in the morning. But unlike me, a considerable number of plants truly love the heat of summer, and here are some of the best to consider planting now…or at least early in the morning.


Fact is, nearly all popular annuals used for seasonal color do well in the heat — both in the ground and in containers – but the standouts include Angelonia, Crossandra, Dichondra, Lantana, Pentas, Petunias, Portulaca, Scaevola, Sweet Potato Vine, Vinca, and Zinnia. And as luck would have it, many of them combine together beautifully and attract pollinators.


This list is even longer, and includes Agastache (Hyssop), Alliums, Armeria, Artemesia, Asclepias (Butterfly Weed), Baptisia, Bee Balm, Coreopsis, Delosperma (Ice Plant), Dianthus, Echinacea (Coneflowers), Gaillardia, Gaura, Iris, Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker), Liriope, Nepeta (Catmint), Ornamental Grasses, Penstemon, Phlox, Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan),Salvia, Sedums, Sempervivums, and Yarrow. And as luck would have it, many of them combine together beautifully, attract pollinators, and last for years.

Trees and Shrubs

In this category, darn near everything qualifies as heat tolerant, but some are exceptionally so, such as Abelia, Althea (Rose of Sharon), Barberry, Crape Myrtle, Desert Willow, Junipers, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Spirea, Viburnum, Vitex (Chaste Tree), Wax Myrtle, and Yucca. Pretty much every popular landscape tree qualifies as well. And as luck would have it, many of them combine together beautifully, attract pollinators, last for years, and are incredibly carefree.

And One More Thing

When I refer to plants as being heat-tolerant, I’m talking only about their ability to withstand the high ambient air temperatures we typically experience in July and August and much of September. I’m not necessarily talking about plants that thrive in full sun, because some of those I’ve included actually grow best with some afternoon shade or dappled light all day. Nor am I suggesting these plants are drought tolerant; in fact, many of them grow best in moist soil, and all of them require routine watering.

But you can plant with confidence anything and everything I’ve listed, knowing that when the intense heat of summer arrives and you’re chilling inside, what’s growing outside will be just fine.

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4 responses to “Some Like it Hot!”

  1. Mickey Butler says:

    Paul, what would you suggest for a damp area that has a northern, but sunny, exposure?
    Thank you!

    • Paul James says:

      My first choice would be an ornamental switchgrass called North Wind. It’s very upright, doesn’t mind wet feet, and produces gorgeous fall foliage. Wax myrtle would also do well there. It’s a tough shrub with fragrant foliage.

  2. Mike Williams says:

    Thanks Paul I’ll drink to that, Elijah Craig on the rocks.