5 Heat-Loving Plants for Summer Gardens
A hot breeze blows across the Lowcountry and attempts to dry the sweat anyone outside this time of year readily finds on their brow. And while 90 degree and above temperatures are not met with enthusiasm by us or many of the plants in our gardens this time of year, there are a select number that thrive. Sandy soils, full sun and minimal water don’t seem to phase these five.
Yellow Bells, Tecoma stans var. angustata, shown here in Hampton Park, is a large robust 8′ perennial that sometimes gets killed back to the ground in the Charleston area. When it doesn’t it is best to cut it within 6-12″ of the ground in February anyway to promote new growth and renewed flowering when early summer hits. The yellow bell-shaped flowers keep coming until late fall.
The Red Firecracker Plant, Russelia equisetiformis, is growing fine on the curb at the Windermere Blvd. Community Garden. Car exhaust, brutal heat, dry soil and that intermittent roadside flooding when we get 5 inches of rain in 20 minutes doesn’t seem to phase this 2′ perennial hummingbird attractant. Plant in groupings of 5 or more for a bigger show of flowers. it does often get killed to the ground with winter freezes. It returns in April to begin flowering in late June.
The Beach Evening Primrose, Oenothera drummondii, literally grows on the beaches of the Lowcountry and thrives in these conditions. Pictured here at Brittlebank Park, the flowering is non-stop from early summer until fall. Give this too much water and it will rot.
Grasses such as the Blue Love Grass, Eragrostis elliottii, has been found to be indestructible in our abusive summer heat. In fact, the heat brings on the subtle but robust plumage that is soft to the touch. Here at Hazel Parker Playground, it seems to dance with the wind on the way to the tennis court.
Creeping Heliotrope, Heliotropium amplexicaule, located in Cannon Park, is a native plant that can’t stop flowering. It forms a mat on the ground, thriving in the hottest, driest conditions.
The lavender-blue flowers show up in late-May and continue through late fall. This roadside perennial should be cut back to 6″ in February as it will turn brown with the frost or freeze in late winter.