If you want to boost the color in your landscape, local nurseries still have a good selection of colorful bedding plants that will thrive in whatever heat the summer throws at them. They come in a variety of heights, textures and colors and are adapted to grow in everything from moist, shady areas to hot, dry, sunny locations.
There are plenty from which to choose, but LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill suggests:
Angelonia — It’s still rather new to gardeners, but this heat-tolerant plant produces a fairly tall, shrubby plant perfect for the middle or back of flower beds. Flower production is nearly continuous, with blooms in shades of purple, lavender, white, pink and rose.
Blue daze — A low-growing, shrubby bedding plant that loves summer heat and sun, blue daze is not bothered by insects or diseases. It has grayish foliage and clear blue flowers and will add a cool note to the garden.
Wishbone flower — It’s a versatile and reliable plant that does well in full sun to part shade. This virtually foolproof annual provides an abundant display of blue, purple, lavender, rose, pink or white flowers over a long period.
Lantana — Also known as ham and eggs, lantana has been refined into a number of garden varieties that are among the best plants for summer color. Few plants combine constant flowering, heat tolerance and ease of care as well as lantana does. Dwarf forms stay under 2 feet tall, and taller types get 3 feet tall or more. Know what you are buying.
Pentas — These plants stay in constant bloom all summer and into fall, with flowers in shades of white, pink, rose, lavender and red. Dwarf varieties stay less than 2 feet tall, and taller varieties grow to 3 feet. They are absolutely care-free other than trimming or pinching back occasionally.
Narrow-leaf zinnia — Blooming in an usually brilliant, in-your-face orange, these zinnias also come in yellow and creamy white and love hot, sunny, dry areas.
They are low-growing, constantly covered with flowers and looks particularly nice cascading over the edge of raised planters.
A shady area is no excuse not to have summer color. Coleus, polka-dot plant and caladiums provide bright splashes of color with their variegated foliage. Wax begonia, torenia and impatiens provide the most reliable flower color in partly shaded conditions.
“Don’t let the heat of August do your garden in,” Gill says. “Choose your plants carefully, and watch your garden thrive despite the weather.”
Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.