Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Heat is ON!

This past week's temperatures had gardeners running for the shade! Many of us who garden in full sun gardens are looking for plants that can handle the heat. We have our favorites and would like to share a list of the toughest annuals for full summer color that handle the heat with ease.

Mediterranean Vinca

Vinca rosea has been extra popular this year because of its bloom's resemblance to impatiens. Vinca will do well in full sun or a half day of shade. We started carrying a new spreading vinca in addition to the popular upright type. Look for Mediterranean vinca to grow in large drifts on hillsides, an area where a groundcover might be used or in hanging baskets. The Pacifica and other varieties of upright vinca will do well in flower borders, window boxes and container gardens.

Angelonias at the Penn State Plant Trials

Angelonia aka Summer snapdragon became one of my favorite annuals when I saw it on a 103 degree day in a plant trial in West Chicago. Most of the other plants (and people, for that matter) were in wilt, but the Angelonias and Dragon Wing Begonias looked fantastic. I like the Angelface variety for its large bloom and the Serenas for their compact habit and early blooming time. Both bloom in an assortment of colors including white, pink and purple.

Dragon Wings do well in larger containers, including hanging baskets

The aforementioned Dragon Wing begonias have nice looking pink or red flowers that bloom all summer in full sun, full shade and everything in between. The only down side of these plants is that they are hard to combine with most other plants because of their vigorous habit. We have paired them with Golden lysimachia and Marguerite sweet potato vine with good success. Look for two other begonias with similar growing habits. Both the Whopper and the Big series of begonias are large, vigorous plants that handle the heat beautifully.

Pentas  Photo courtesy Benary Seed

Pentas have unique clusters of five-pointed petals on a beautiful, compact plant. Butterflies like them too. Look for white, pink, purple and white. They combine beautifully with many other sun-lovers as well.

A hummingbird favorite!

Salvia Black and Blue is our top-seller in our 8 inch pots. I think my coworkers and I are responsible for a good many of those sales as we grow them to attract hummingbirds to our gardens. The black stems and cobalt-blue flowers thrive in full sun. Be careful to plant them into a pretty big pot as they will fill out a container in no time.

There are plenty of other annuals that are valuable for their heat-loving capabilities, Purslane portulaca, lantana, celosia, crossandra, and zinnias thrive in hot, hot areas. When transplanting , use a plant starter fertilizer to get them rooted in well. Use Osmocote for pots and beds as a timed-release food that will last 2-4 months. If you want blooms to stay spectacular through the season, use a water soluble fertilizer as well.

Our first heat wave of the summer was relatively short, but, Maryland being Maryland certainly has more hot weather ahead for us. Enjoy your summer!