Plants for the sun

7 Heat-Tolerant Plants that Love the Sun

By Linda Ly

Even in the peak of summer, there’s no reason your garden can’t be as colorful, vibrant, and lush as your springtime landscape. In fact, you can keep your garden blooming all season long by adding these stunning, heat-loving plants to your beds, borders, and containers as soon as the mercury starts rising. While most are perennials in mild climates, they can be planted as annuals to replace springtime varieties that struggle in the heat.

  1. Lantana
  2. As a native to the tropics, lantana likes it hot and humid, and grows best in moist, well-draining soil (but can withstand drought conditions). It thrives in the sun, especially afternoon sun, and blooms year-round in tight clusters of red, orange, yellow, pink, or white. The flowers are ideal for planting along the perimeters of vegetable gardens, as they’re irresistible to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Place them near crops that need to be pollinated, such as squash and melons.

  3. Lemon Verbena
  4. This hardy, sun-loving herb hails from South America but is now grown around the world. It’s said that in summer, Victorian women used to find relief from the sweltering heat by packing lemon verbena leaves in their handkerchiefs and inhaling the sweet, citrusy aroma. Nowadays, you can simply plant lemon verbena near your doors and windows for a whiff of the pleasing scent. It needs only weekly watering with the Gilmour Flexogen Super Duty Hose and a watering nozzle once established, and puts out pretty white flowers in late summer to early fall.

  5. Cosmos
  6. These tall, showy annuals with silky, daisy-like flowers are native to Mexico, able to take the heat and the drought—thus making them ideal for desert gardens or areas with poor soil. In fact, soil that is too rich will make them weak-stemmed and floppy, so plant them in beds you’ve long neglected if you want to inject a lot of color in your space with little to no maintenance.

  7. Marigold
  8. Marigolds appear on almost every list of ideal warm-weather flowers, and for good reason: they’re classic (especially as container plants and bedding plants), easy to grow, come in cheerful tones of orange and yellow, and bloom in summer and fall when many other plants are griping about the heat. Plant them in well-draining soil in full sun, and water well at the root zone, allowing the soil to dry a bit between watering.

  9. Geranium
  10. Geraniums have always been known to tolerate heat better than most plant species, but the recent development of hybrid geraniums has meant varieties that can take on tough climates like Texas and Arizona, where 100-plus-degree summers are the norm. To keep them healthy, however, they need consistent moisture and should be watered with a Thumb Control Watering Nozzle when the first 2 inches of soil are dry. They’re also happier in the long run if given dappled afternoon shade in the height of summer.

  11. Salvia
  12. Salvias (also known as sages) are long-blooming, deer-resistant, easy to grow, and easy to care for. Being native to the Mediterranean, salvias are heat-tolerant, prefer full sun, and thrive with minimal summer watering, making them ideal for dry gardens and drought-friendly landscapes. The most striking salvias have masses of showy blue or purple flowers that bloom all summer long and attract a variety of pollinators.

  13. Sedum
  14. Sedums (stonecrops) are a group of succulents that are as low-maintenance as they come. Resistant to drought, heat, humidity, and poor soil, sedums survive in less-than-ideal conditions by storing moisture in their thick, succulent leaves. These qualities make them excellent choices for arid climates and rock gardens that still want a bright infusion of color when the dense clusters of flowers appear in summer. Sedums don’t like having wet feet, so make sure to put them in well-draining soil in full sun.

Container gardening: our top picks

With space at a premium, sometimes it simply isn’t practical to plant out a garden bed in your garden – or perhaps you want to grow some greenery where there’s no soil to plant them to thrive in. Enter container gardening. It’s perfect for those with small courtyards or balconies, and fabulous for those who rent.

Why container gardening?

There are many reasons to consider growing plants in containers, rather than in the ground. The first of these is portability. If you want to change up your garden’s configuration, it’s much easier to move a potted plant than it is to uproot something that’s established in your garden bed. Similarly, if you’re renting a home and you have to move, you can take your beloved garden along with you.

Secondly, growing plants in pots means you’re less restricted by soil type. Sometimes your garden soil may be hostile to certain plant varieties, or the plant combination you have your heart set on simply won’t thrive in the type of soil you have. By planting in containers, you can use a different soil mix every time to ensure each plant gets the nutrients it needs.

Finally, pots come in a range of sizes and styles, so you can add an extra visual factor to your outdoor decor. You can match them to your outdoor settings or other backyard features, go for a contrasting style, or mix and match for a truly eclectic feel.

Our top picks

At Flower Power, we’re the garden people for a reason – we just love plants. We’ve put together some of our favourite plants that love the great outdoors, and that also happen to thrive when grown in pots. We’ve also found some gorgeous pots you’ll get fantastic use out of. No matter whether you have a rambling sprawl of land or a cosmopolitan little courtyard, we’ve got the perfect plant and pot combo for you.

Kentia, Bangalow and Golden Cane Palms in Windsor Cylinder Pots.

Palms

We love a palm tree, because they’re the fastest way to turn your balcony into an outdoor oasis. For that every-day’s-a-holiday feeling, we recommend a mix of Kentia, Golden Cane and Bangalow palms – their different sizes and growth habits will create a lush, textured look. We’ve paired them with our Windsor Cylinder Pots in minimalist white. These lightweight yet tall pots are elegant to look at and easy to move – plus, they look great clustered together in different sizes.

Euphorbia Acrurensis in Atlantis Beehive Pot

Euphorbia Acrurensis

The iconic image of the desert is a cactus, and the Euphoria Acrurensis imitates this perfectly. This low-maintenance plant is intriguing to look at and, apart from regular deep watering, requires little additional care – making it perfect for lazy gardeners. Be careful with this one around kids, though – like the cacti it resembles, it has prickly spines, and its white sap can be very irritating to sensitive skin. Paired with our amazing hand-made terracotta Atlantis Beehive Cylinder Pot, this makes a fabulous stand-alone statement piece for a decked area.

Bird’s Nest Fern ‘Norfolk Gem’ in Madrid Drum.

Bird’s Nest Fern

While it doesn’t have the typical feathery fronds you’d expect of a fern, the Bird’s Nest Fern is one of the most popular varieties around. Its broad, leathery leaves form a rosette pattern and can grow anywhere from 1-2m in length. As a jungle plant in its natural habitat, this plant loves humidity and will thrive if watered well, provided its soil and pot are well-draining. The more light the Bird’s Nest Fern gets, the more crinkled texture its leaves develop, too. Avoid full sun, however, as this is a plant susceptible to sunburn. We love the ‘Norfolk Gem’ variety potted up in our elegant Madrid Drum Pot.

Mission Olive Tree in Aqua Gotland Pot.

Olive trees

Want to bring the feel of the Mediterranean to your yard? The quickest way is with an olive tree. These stunning plants with their slim stems and silvery-green foliage provide an elegant focal point in your garden – and despite being most at home in their humid, native Mediterranean climate, they are very versatile plants that also work in both cooler and subtropical climates. It’s worth noting, however, that they are not tolerant of severe frosts. Kalamata olives are a popular choice for Sydney gardens, but for instant effect, we love a mature Mission Olive potted up in our hand-made terracotta Gotland Pot. Hot tip – make extra use of your container by underplanting your olive tree with a range of herbs including rosemary, sage and curry plant, just like we’ve done here.

Dwarf False Cardamom in Grey Leighton Bowl.

Dwarf False Cardamom

Lush, full and evergreen, this South-East Asian ginger plant has super aromatic foliage, which exudes a spicy scent when it’s rubbed. Dwarf False Cardamoms produce pretty panicles of unique white shell-like flowers through summer. Compact and hardy, this plant will grow in a range of conditions, but prefers full sun to part shade and a rich, moist- well-draining soil. It makes quite an impact when planted in clumps or used as underplanting – we potted up three 200mm plants in our lightweight grey Leighton Bowl for an instant hit of glossy green.

Ceropegia Dichotoma in Grey Southampton Bowl.

Ceropegia Dichotoma

With its spindly, spider-like growth habit, this succulent is truly a standout in any garden. Native to the Canary Islands, Ceropegia Dichotoma’s pale green stems play occasional host to clusters of tubular, light yellow flowers. This architectural designer succulent is drought-tolerant and prefers a well-draining soil. As a fairly busy plant with so many stems, a minimal pot like our lightweight grey Southampton Bowl is Ceropegia Dichotoma’s perfect match.

Mixed herbs in Black Stanton Bowl.

Mixed herbs

There’s no better way to flavour your food than with freshly-picked herbs you’ve grown yourself. They aren’t difficult to grow, and being able to use your own produce while cooking is a particularly rewarding practice. Aside from the practicality of growing your own, herb plants are super fragrant and can add a variety of colours and textures to your container garden. For a balcony or a courtyard area, choose a big pot – we like our lightweight Stanton Bowl, which is both gorgeous to look at and easy to move around – and get to work filling it with a variety of herbs. Rosemary, sage, basil, mint, coriander, lemon balm, parsley – you name it, you can grow it yourself. For even more flavour impact, why not try growing some of our new range of Elite Herbs?

Teddy Bear Magnolia in Atlantis Cyprus Preserve Pot.

Teddy Bear Magnolia

If you want to add some evergreen beauty to your garden, it is difficult to go past the magnolia family. Exhbiting beautiful, glossy foliage in a deep green with a copper-coloured underside, this hardy dwarf magnolia loves a sunny spot with well-draining soil, but is tolerant of partial shade and a range of growing conditions. Teddy Bear Magnolia flowers are cream in colour with a beautiful, strong fragrance, appearing all the way through summer and autumn. It grows in a conical to rounded shape and is perfect for potting. We love it in our Atlantis Cyprus Preserve pot – the perfect statement pair!

If you’re searching for the best flowers for full sun then see our list of heat tolerant flowers.

All these flowers can bear the tropical heat and thrive in full sun. You can also grow them in containers. Check out!

Heat Tolerant Flowers

1. Pentas

Beautiful pentas flowers attract pollinators like bees, hummingbirds, and sunbirds due to the nectar. Pentas is a tough heat tolerant plant that you can grow in containers. This tropical flower can be grown in USDA Zones 9-11 as perennial, below these zones grow it as an annual.

2. Lantana

Lantana is a common tropical flower that blooms year-round in bright colors like red, yellow, orange, white or pink. It thrives in neglect and heat, it is kind of an afternoon sun plant, the more sun the better. Growing lantana is only possible as an annual plant in mild climates. Learn more about lantana here.

3. Plumbago

Plumbago is a beautiful vine-like African native shrub that thrives in minimal care in subtropical or tropical heat. Its sky blue flowers appear almost year long in right climate. For growing plumbago outside you have to live in USDA Zone 9-11, in cooler zones you’ll need to protect it in winters.

4. Moonflower

The spectacular display of large and fragrant pure white flowers that resembles morning glory and open in the evening. You can grow this vine in a large container. It flowers year-round in subtropics but if you live in a temperate region, grow it as annual. Moonflower plant can reach the height of 6-15 feet in a single season and blooms from summer to fall.

5. Hibiscus

Hibiscus is one the most popular flowering shrubs due to some reasons: It is low maintenance, can be grown in pots easily, available in myriads of colors and for both temperate and tropical climates. Tropical hibiscus can easily handle the temperature above 100 F or more.

Also Read: 44 Best Shrubs for Containers

6. Portulaca (Moss Rose)

Amazing needle-like foliage and bright and colorful small flowers, the portulacas worth a place in your container garden, in hanging baskets or window boxes whether you live in tropics or in temperates. They are one of the toughest plants that never mind the rising tropical heat and drought. Portulacas are annuals everywhere except tropical zones.

7. Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)

Also known as blanket flower, gaillardia is a heat resistant and drought tolerant plant belongs to the sunflower family. The blooms look so attractive and become excellent cut flowers. Grow blanket flower in full sun and provide afternoon shade in summer in peak tropical summer to save it.

Also Read: How to Grow Safflower

8. Calliandra (Powder Puff)

Basically, a small tree that is famous for its puffy flowers that attract wildlife, you can also grow calliandra in a large pot, especially in the colder zones, below 9 to overwinter it indoors as this magnificent plant can’t survive harsh winters.

9. Verbena

There are more than 250 species of verbenas that can be grown in a variety of climates between USDA Zones 4-11. Almost all varieties require sun to thrive and bloom prolifically. Grow verbenas in well-drained soil and provide moderate but regular watering when the soil is dry.

10. Thunbergia Erecta (King’s Mantle)

Also called bush clock vine, thunbergia erecta is a shrub that is native to Africa. If grown in a subtropical or tropical climate (USDA Zone 9-11) this plant never fails from flowering. A year round prolific bloomer thunbergia erecta comes in shades of violet, purple and yellow.

11. Mandevilla

Grow Mandevilla as annual in cooler climates, it is a fast growing heat resistant tropical climber that blooms heavily, flowers are pink, white or red in color and give a tropical look to any garden.

12. Bottlebrush

With its brush like puffy flowers that appear throughout the year, bottlebrush is without a doubt one of the best large flowering shrubs. Bottlebrush can be trained in large containers, although it requires space. If grown in a cooler zone, bring the bottle brush plant indoors before the first frost to overwinter it.

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Top 10 Summer Blooming Perennials

Bring color and texture to your garden with plants that bloom year after year. Here’s our top 10 favorite summer blooming perennials:

1. Phlox

Garden Phlox has fragrant, showy blooms in pink, purple, white or red. It’s great for cutting or tall borders. Plant in sun to part shade. Phlox attracts butterflies.

2. Hardy Hibiscus

Hardy hibiscus loves full sun and attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies. It starts blooming late in the summer producing huge flowers in shades of red, pink or white. The plant dies back in the winter and is very late to break dormancy. It’s usually mistaken for dead, but give it time and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular color!

3. Shasta Daisy

Shasta Daisies will always brighten up your day! This classic perennial has large white blooms that last until early fall. Shasta daisy thrives in well-drained, not overly rich soil. Choose from different varieties for different heights – short ones are perfect for borders and tall ones create a dramatic backdrop. A perfect low maintenance plant and makes great cut flowers!

4. Coneflower

Coneflower is a mid-summer bloomer that’s a great cut flower. There are many different varieties of plants, you’re sure to find one that’s right for your garden. Coneflower is deer resistant and attracts butterflies. Plant in full sun.

5. Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia or Black-eyed Susan is a must for the summer garden. It blooms from July to September, is deer and rabbit resistant and attracts butterflies. Plant in full sun, and be sure to remove spent blooms for more flowering.

6. Perennial Geranium

Perennial Geranium is a great border plant. Tiny brilliantly colored flowers bloom for months starting in late spring. Plant in part shade to shade. It’s resistant to rabbits and attracts butterflies.

7. Lavender

Lavender is a favorite flower for its wonderful fragrance. It’s a great border plant and likes well-drained soil. Plant in full sun. It’s deer and rabbit resistant and attracts butterflies. Great plant to dry and use in sachets or potpourri.

8. Coreopsis

Coreopsis has sunny daisy-like flowers that bloom in a variety of colors, such as yellow, pink, red or bi-color. The flowers blossom early summer to midsummer. Deadheading spent blooms will increase bloom time. They attract birds and butterflies. Grows about 1 to 3 feet tall.

9. Bee Balm

Bee Balm has showy flowers that bloom July thru August. Its fragrance attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant in sun to part shade. Grows about 1 to 4 feet tall.

10. Allium

Alliums bloom in a wide range of colors, including shades of yellow, white, pink, and purple. Offering a whimsical structure in the garden, Alliums have tall thick stems that hold up a globe-like cluster of florets. Plant in full sun. Grows about 1 to 3 feet tall. They’re deer resistant, attract birds and make great cut flowers.

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