Colorful Annuals that Love the Heat!
Cora Cascade Vinca (shown above in Bright Rose color)
This has quickly become one of our favorite plants for many reasons! It has all the wonderful characteristics of regular upright vinca, such as consistent blooming, thrives in heat and sun, AND requires less water than many other warm season annuals. The Cora series of both the upright and cascading vinca are disease resistant as well. The Cora Cascade series is unique; it trails neatly out of containers or spreads out, up to several feet in width, in the ground. Cascading vinca has somehow gone kind under the radar for the past several years, but it’s a winner and worth trying in your landscape! It has even been chosen as an Arkansas Diamond plant selection by an experienced Arkansas gardeners, growers and horticulturists. The Cora Cascade Vinca is available in a variety of colors such as white and a wide array of pink, including cherry, lilac, rose and much more. Another feature to love about Cora Cascade; it only reaches about 8 inches in height, making it a great front layer for taller annuals. As you might guess, it trails very nicely over stone walls too.
Lantana (shown in foreground above and in the first image, blooming yellow)
Yes, we know, lantana has been around for a long time and is nothing new BUT did you know there are new varieties that stay smaller and mound, such as the Bandana series? And that there are tons of colors, including hot pink with orange and yellow, as well as white, purple, and shades of pink? And white with yellow (talking about you Lemon Zest and Lemon Cream!). The tried and true spreading New Gold is always popular; one big reason is well, big (several feet tall and can grow to over 3 feet in width). The large selection of variety, from growth habit to color variation, make this heat and sun tolerant warm season annual a forever favorite.
Did you know that Angelonia is also known as Summer Snapdragon? Can you see the resemblance? These upright stalks of blooms may look delicate but they take the summer heat, humidty and sun with aplomb. There have been many advancements for angelonia over the years, giving rise to a variety of series, featuring different colors, plant size and bloom size. What we love about this plant? It’s a totally different shape of annual; it’s upright without being so tall that it’s overbearing (as an example; the Serena series tops out at 12-16″ tall). The colors available include blue hues, purple, white and various pinks, so it can be used in warm or cool color scheme landscape beds or combo pots. This annual also pairs well with Cora Cascade or fanflower in front of it, or planted in mass in a variety of colors by itself.
No post about heat loving annuals would be complete without mentioning purslane! A low water needs annual, featuring vibrant colors such as yellow, red, orange, magenta, even striped blooms, double blooms and blooms with little puffball looking petals in the center, surrounded with a row of different colored petals. This is another low growing annual, that spreads or trails out of containers. It’s closely related to portulaca, and are often confused with each other. Portulaca has the longer needle-like leaves, while purslane has flat rounded leaves. Portulaca, also known as moss rose, can usually be found in 6 packs, while purslane is available in 4 inch or larger pots, such as hanging baskets, like these shown above. Purslane blooms may or may not close at some point during the day, based on heat and sun exposure.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of heat tolerant annuals; other options include sun coleus, SunPatiens, fanflower, euphorbia, salvia, bronzeleaf begonias and celosia. And we haven’t talked yet about tropicals or perennials that love the heat (those posts are coming soon!). There are also many shrubs to choose from as well. The spring season may be winding down, but there is still time to plant and there is a lot of wonderful plants to choose from!