Some plants just hate extreme summer heat. Fuchsias and lupines come to mind.
Nobody really knows what kind of summer weather lies ahead, of course. But just in case the temperatures are brutal, planting some heat-loving annuals and perennials in your pots and plots will ensure you’ll have some summer survivors.
Showy tropical plants like elephant’s ear, banana, cordyline, croton, canna and mandevilla are, as you would expect, naturals for hot weather.
But many Midwest natives can take the heat, too. For example, there’s blanket flower (Gaillardia). You can opt for flamboyant multicolored blossoms of red, orange and yellow, or more sedate single-colored selections such as Arizona Apricot or Mesa Yellow. Both won All-America Selections awards. Most are short-lived perennials, although they tend to live longer if dug and divided every two or three years. Red Plume, a favorite with brick-red flowers, is a compact annual that is perfect for growing in containers.
Blanket flower resists drought and is usually passed up by browsing deer and rabbits.
Another prairie native, rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), also laughs off the heat. Growing 3 feet tall, it has unique white, golf-ball flowers. Its gray-green leaves signal tolerance to drought. Deer don’t like it. Butterflies do!
There are also many non-native perennials that can take the heat. Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), another plant with silvery foliage, covers itself with spikes of lavender-blue flowers for several months in midsummer.
Sedums, both tall and creeping types, laugh off the heat with no problem, too.
If you’re looking for hot weather annuals for containers, the list of choices is long. Flowering vinca (Catharanthus) is one of my long-time favorites. I love the glossy-green leaves as well as the variety of flower colors. Another plus: No dead-heading is needed to keep the plants looking good and blooming continuously, because the spent blossoms drop off on their own.
Since weather is unpredictable, the Cora series is especially good; those plants are also more tolerant of cool, wet weather than other kinds of flowering vinca.
Old-fashioned snapdragons don’t much like heat, but similar looking plants sometimes called summer snapdragons do. Usually sold as angelonia, they have flower spikes filled with two-lipped blossoms and come in many colors, sometimes two-toned. If deer are a problem, you’ll love angelonia because deer don’t.
A few more heat-tolerant annuals: Pentas, gazania, ornamental pepper, begonia, alternanthera, and iresine.