Heat Tolerant Annuals for Virginia Summers
Written by Mikaela Rice
Virginia summers are known for being “sticky”. Hot and humid temperatures make it difficult for moisture to evaporate from the skin and leave you racing inside with the promise of cold air conditioning. Unfortunately, our state’s hot climate doesn’t play nice with all the plants you planted in the springtime either – come July, without proper care or due diligence, you may find that many of your annuals are looking a little worse for wear and in need of some TLC.
… But it doesn’t always have to be that way! Below we have listed some of our favorite heat tolerant annuals that thrive in Virginia’s summer climate. These plants will keep your garden bursting with color with minimal care as we continue to move into hotter weather.
Portulaca (Moss Rose)
Did you know Portulacas are actually succulents? These plants are heat and drought tolerant making them powerhouses during Virginia summers. Portulacas yield an assortment of hot yellow, orange, red and pink semi-double flowers from June until early Fall. Portulacas prefer sandy, well-drained soil and love the sun. They reseed very well, so make sure to keep an eye on them if you don’t want them growing in certain areas of the garden.
Vinca (Madagascar Periwinkle)
This plant requires almost no maintenance to keep up its nonstop blooms from early summer til fall! Vinca comes in a variety of colors that all attract butterflies such as pink, purple, red, white, magenta, and bi-color. They are deer and rabbit resistant which means you can keep less of an eye out for these critters. Vincas love hot and humid weather – place them in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. Consider planting them with celosia or taller marigolds or zinnias in beds or plant them by themselves in pots or hanging baskets.
A staple in exotic gardens everywhere! Tropical hibiscus make excellent container plants for adding tropical flair to patios from spring through fall and are very easy to grow. They come in a variety of shapes and colors, including reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, multicolors, and even double blooms! Tropical hibiscus thrive in full sunlight and rich, well-draining soil. Though they love hot & humid conditions keep an eye on them it temperatures rise above 100°F for extended periods. They also are deer and rabbit resistant and attract butterflies.
Lantanas are butterfly and pollinator magnets that produce nonstop flowers throughout the summer and into the fall. This plant thrives in full sun, is drought tolerant, and very low maintenance. Their blooms come in a variety of colors including red, yellow, white, orange, lavender, pink, and bi-color. Make sure to check out Bloomify lantana specifically: it’s the first ever sterile lantana which means the blooms will keep on coming and coming as they don’t produce seed pods.
Pentas (Star Clusters)
This plant is a sun-loving, easy to grow choice for hot summer gardens. They are deer and rabbit resistant and attract a plethora of butterflies and hummingbirds with their bold-colored blooms. Pentas prefer well-drained soil that doesn’t stay soggy and can be used tastefully in borders and mixed containers. Blossom colors include red, white, lavender, purple and pink. Make sure to deadhead to encourage continued blooming!
Dipladenias have a shrub-like habit that makes them ideal for containers, beds, and borders. This tropical vine blooms profusely in reds, pinks, and whites throughout the summer months. Dipladenia is drought tolerant – on the flip side make sure not to overwater it because its tuberous roots suffocate in soggy wet soil! It is also known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. While they enjoy full sun, if it’s extremely hot consider providing them with some light shade.