The Heat is On!

By Paul James

In just about every landscape, there’s a sunny spot that’s not just hot, but crazy, insane, over-the-top hot. It might be an area adjacent to a sidewalk or driveway or concrete patio. It might be near a light-colored brick or stucco wall. It might be in a bed that’s mulched with stone. Regardless, spots like that require plants that can take not only full blazing sun but intense reflective heat as well. And thankfully, quite a few plants fit the bill.

Annuals

Nearly all popular annuals used for seasonal color can take the heat, including Marigolds, Petunias, Vinca, and Zinnias. But two in particular stand out: Lantana and Portulaca. They’ll thrive in the most unforgiving heat imaginable, and both come in several color choices. What’s more, both are great in the ground or in containers.

Perennials

Among perennials, my top picks for the heat are Black-Eyed Susan, Daylilies, Hardy Hibiscus, Ice Plant, Salvia (especially the Salvia greggii selections) and any and all Sedums. They’re all tough as nails, and beautiful to boot.

Shrubs

When it comes to heat tolerance, you can’t go wrong with Althea (Rose of Sharon), Barberry, Crape Myrtle, Spirea, and Vitex. They all welcome the heat with open arms (or branches). Althea and Vitex are especially tolerant of intense heat, and both attract pollinators.

In addition to be able to withstand the heat, these plants look great when combined, which means you can have a beautiful mix of sizes, colors, and textures even in the most inhospitable spot in your landscape. Do keep in mind, however, that while these plants can take the heat, they still need to be watered once a week or so during the summer months. Beyond that, however, they don’t require much care, which means you’ll have more time for fun in the sun.