June 24, 2024

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10 flowers that love hot and dry weather

Annuals are a perfect way to add a pop of color all summer long. Although they love our hot, summer days, most of them also require plenty of water. Here are 10 plants that will bloom all summer without wilting. 

1. Portulaca

These cute groundcovers are perfect for a shallow saucer planter that’s usually too small for other plants. Most nurseries carry these as small starter plants, but they can also be started by seed. Portulaca can handle daily waterings but will bloom just as nicely if they totally dry out. Neglect these plants and they’ll reward you with blooms that come in a rainbow of color. The flowers close each night and reopen the following morning. It would look great on a hot tabletop on a sunny patio.

2. Crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii)

At first look, most people would consider this spiky plant a cactus, but it’s actually a cousin of the poinsettias. The blooms are very tiny but are surrounded by large colorful “bracts” which are modified leaves that look like petals. These plants look great on a windowsill during the coldest months of the year but prefer to be outside bathing in sunshine. When they aren’t in bloom (which almost never happens), the unusual spikes are a real conversation piece. 

3. Dipladenia

This is another common plant to find at local nurseries through the summer. They will bloom in sun or shade, but put on their best show during the summertime. They prefer regular watering, but when they’re established can survive our summers on just rainwater. These plants are usually available in white, red, or pink but new varieties come in yellow and orange.

4. Madagascar Periwinkle

Also known as Flowering Vinca, these annuals are widely available and incredibly tolerant of hot and dry conditions. Although they prefer daily water, the glossy leaves protect this plant from wilting which makes it very forgiving. Most varieties form a neat upright mound, but there are also trailing varieties that are great in a hanging basket. Unlike many other hanging baskets, this one can miss a watering without crisping up. These plants also regularly produce seed so don’t be surprised if you see a few return around the garden next summer! 

5. (Adenium obesum) Desert Rose

Looking for a bonsai plant on your tabletop? Desert Rose will give you the look without ANY of the pruning or maintenance. Desert Roses grow thick trunks that hold all the water they need to get them through dry spells. The small branches are filled with more flowers than leaves during the warmest months of the year. When they go inside for the winter, all the leaves fall off and the plant goes dormant until springtime. Although this plant is hard to find in local nurseries, it’s worth searching for.

6. Lantana

This is an aggressive weed in subtropical climates, but perfectly well-behaved for now in our region where winters are too cold for them to survive. Lantana comes in a kaleidoscope of tiny flowers and is surrounded by bees and butterflies all summer long. It’s an easy annual to find in most nurseries throughout the growing season. Gardeners who want to save this plant for next season can cut it back in the winter and store the pot in a cool garage. 

7. Verbena

This plant is often sold as an annual, but will actually return during mild winters in our climate. It blooms heaviest in the early summer, but will sporadically rebloom all summer long. It can handle dry conditions without any wilting and loves sunshine.

8. Oleander

This is a fantastic alternative to hibiscus for gardeners who want a patio shrub that blooms all summer long and can fend for itself without frequent watering. It’s cold-tolerant enough to overwinter in a garage during the wintertime. Be careful with this around kids and pets, all parts of the plant are extremely toxic.

9. Sedum

Looking for a potted plant that comes back every year, look no further than Sedum. This genus of succulents comes in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. Some delicately trail down, while others grow up to 3 feet tall. They typically bloom in late summer before dying back for winter, but the foliage comes in textures and colors that will compete with any bloom in the garden.

10. Gazania

This is the first year I’ve seen these daisy-like desert plants available at local nurseries. The blooms are huge and bright. They close as soon as the sun stops hitting them so the more sun the better. They’re small enough to complement larger succulents like Aloe.