Looking for annuals that can take hot weather? Isn’t that why you plant annuals — because they typically bloom all summer?
This is the time of year when I choose from the dozens of annuals and tropical plants in my garden that stood out as the ‘stars’ of the sweltering summer. You won’t find these frontrunners available now, but if you bookmark this article you can to refer to the list when the plant catalogs start arriving right after Christmas. Of course, you can also wait until next spring to seek out some of these beauties, but they may be in limited supply. Identifying sources for these plants in the next few months can be a great way to stay engaged with your garden as the weather turns cold.
Here is my list of eight annuals that can take hot weather —
Begonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire’:
Begonias usually are for shade, but a new group that is native to Bolivia loves to play in the sun. Hybridizers have been introducing named varieties into the marketplace, but one of the first — the Bonfire series — is still one of the best. It’s Begonia boliviensis, a tuberous species that loves good drainage, that contributes to these hybrids. I’ve seen this Begonia in plant trials growing in full sun, but it will also grow with just a couple of direct sun hours each day.
Light: full to part sun
Varieties: Bonfire, Bossa Nova, Encanto, Million Kisses, Mistral, Summerwings,.
Uses: in the ground, in a hanging pot or in a standing container.
Soil type: well-draining; this plant hates soggy roots.
Special information: Because begonias have brittle stems, care must be taken that they don’t get knocked off.
Begonia bonfire (see Cover Photo by Jean Starr)
Canna (multiple varieties):
Cannas might not steal the show, but they’ll certainly inject a tropical presence. They grow from rhizomes that sprout as soon as they are subjected to enough warmth. One of the best for its health and flower production is the CannaCannova. I grew it in a large container with several other plants, and it reached no taller than five feet, which is short for a canna. Except for some leaf damage during Japanese beetle season, it looked good and bloomed all summer into fall. The Cannova series comes in a variety of flower colors. For dramatic leaves on a very large plant, try Tropicanna Black, a seven-footer with deep purplish-black leaves.
Light: full to part sun
Size: anywhere from four to 10 feet tall with a spread from two to five feet.
Uses: in the ground, or in a very large container.
Soil type: A rich, well-drained soil is best. Cannas are heavy feeders, so keep them fed with a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote.
Special information: For a good variety of unusual Cannas, check out Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, NC.