Best Annuals for Hot, Hot and More Hot

By Chris Edmunds

Here are a few of our favorite annuals that love the sun.
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Beautiful sunshine can result in some really hot summer days, especially in our midwestern area! Preventing your garden from being scorched by the sun can be intimidating. Luckily, there are gorgeous annuals that love the heat AND are low-maintenance. Here are a few of our favorite sun-loving annuals.

Trailing Plants

Trailing plants that thrive in the heat are a perfect way to fill your sunny porch or patio. Dichondra Silver Falls can grow up to 4 feet long and is extremely heat and drought resistant. You’ll love the cool, soothing effect of its silky smooth, shiny silver foliage in your hanging baskets or container gardens. One of our Kaw Valley favorites, you can count on this high-performing annual to still be alive even after weeks of scorching core-of-the-earth temperatures!

sweet potato vine.jpgAnother of our favorite trailing annuals is Sweet Potato Vine. They have beautiful foliage that can spread 3 to 6 feet or more! Not only are they heat and drought tolerant, but they are also easy to grow and low-maintenance. You’ll enjoy these luscious vines as a spiller in your favorite container or as a great addition to your landscape in the sunny spots of your yard. The hotter it gets, the faster they grow! If you have deer or rabbits in your neighborhood you’ll want to treat with Liquid Fence or Deer Off to close down their favorite breakfast buffet! They nicknamed Sweet Potato Vine ‘Marguerite’ the ‘60 mile-per-hour’ landscape plant because it’s neon-chartreuse foliage carpet is something you can’t help but rubber-neck when speeding by. If you decide to put it in planters, they should be Very large planters to really enjoy the full effect. Check out our plant library to see why we carry so many different flavors of chartreuse Ipomoeas, some spread less than others, one is humongous, and there are many different leaf shapes to choose from. Just check the tag to see how big each variety gets, and select one suited for the spot you are planting. All are equally stunning and easy to grow.


Your summer garden isn’t complete without sun-loving petunias. Not only are petunias heat tolerant, but their vibrant blooms add just the right amount of color to your yard. One of our favorite petunia series, is ‘Petchoa, SuperCals’. Petchoas are a unique hybrid between a Petunia and a Calibrachoa. These plants offer the large flowers of petunias and the bountiful blooms of calibrachoa (nicknamed ‘Million Bells’). BUT best of all, they aren’t as fussy about the ph of the soil like Calibrachoas, and will thrive in flower beds or in pots with any good soil. These annuals are high performers in the hot summer and are even self-cleaning! Two varieties stand out for their well-branched, huge and mounding habit, covered with electric-colored blooms: Petchoa’s: SuperCal Neon Rose and Violet. You will have a hard time not having these every year once you try them and they look great either as a component with other vigorous varieties or by themselves as a huge mound of heat tolerant, easy care beauty. Just fertilize often (about every one to two weeks) and spray with Spinosad to prevent budworm from chowing down all the blooms.

ChrisGrave.jpegYou can’t talk about petunias without mentioning the ‘King’ of all petunias ever in the history of the plant kingdom, Supertunia Vista Bubblegum.  Absolutely, by leaps and bounds, the most vigorous and most covered in blooms throughout the season, with the bonus of being self-cleaning (no deadheading needed), ‘Vista Bubblegum’ is the best petunia, and maybe best performing annual, on the market, and will become one of your ‘can’t-live-without’ plants after one try! They are extremely heat tolerant and their bubblegum pink flowers work as a butterfly magnet. The ‘Vista’ series of  ‘Supertunias’ from Proven Winners will outperform and outgrow all other spreading petunias. You’ll enjoy a nice, pink glow over your patio with ‘Vista Bubblegum’ in your large hanging baskets or as a spiller in your large container gardens. Also a great plant for beds and in the landscape. My sister and I plant ‘ Vista Bubblegum’ for Memorial Day near our parent's headstone because, not only did they love producing the best petunias by growing them in cold-frames to keep the sturdy, well-branched and hardy, but my sister and I only have to water once a week because they are so drought tolerant. We love being welcomed by the beautiful mounds of bright pink we can see from the entrance, knowing these guys are happy to be gracing the resting spot of our hard-working, loving parents.

Petunias in containers love a well-draining potting soil, like our KVG Potting Soil, and watered only when the top couple inches of soil is dry.  If you`ve had a problem with your blooms or buds getting chewed away, spray a good dose of Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew once a week starting in late May, or as soon as you spy tiny holes in your buds or blooms. You can find ready-to-use spray bottles and a large selection of supertunias at any of our garden centers. You’ll keep these plants strong all summer with good doses of KVG The Good Stuff fertilizer, about every other week. Better yet, work some of our time-release granules into the soil before planting. That way you don’t have to worry about fertilizing until about early September when it has been used up. Petunias are heavy feeders, and if you use a brand such as ours that is much less likely to burn and isn’t overloaded with phosphorous like the leading national brand which also leaches excess phosphorous into our groundwater. We formulated both our time-release and water-soluble fertilizers to be the healthiest for our plants and without the stupid, overkill amount of phosphorous the green packaged crap has. Thanks to K-State’s Dr. Stevens for exposing this polluting national brand.

Bushy Plants

snapdragons.jpgBushy plants are a great way to fill those empty sunny spots in your yard. Angelonia, also known as Summer Snapdragon, ‘Angelonia, BIG Indigo’ is a gorgeous, bushy plant with dark green foliage and heavenly-scented, dark purple flower spikes with a white eye. They thrive in extreme heat, so you can feel free to put them in the hottest part of your yard. They will also perform well in part-shade. You and the bees and hummingbirds will enjoy their gorgeous, continuous flower spires by planting them in well-draining soil and watering when dry!

Evolvulus ‘Blue My Mind’ is another of our favorites from Proven Winners. It has beautiful, pure deep sky-blue flowers and loves the heat! Once established, these plants are drought and heat tolerant. With silvery foliage and non-stop blooms, these mounded plants are ideal for window boxes, container gardens and hanging baskets.

What better way to enjoy the summer heat than with sun-loving annuals in your garden! Add the right amount of color to your yard with the vibrant supertunias or complete your landscape with a beautiful spreading plant such as Sweet Potato Vine. Whichever heat-loving annuals you choose, you’ll have more time to sit back and relax this summer with these low-maintenance plants.

Remember, all our Kaw Valley favorites are trial-tested before going to our garden centers. You can be sure that these easy-to-grow annuals are well-suited for our area. Stop by any of our garden center locations to find your favorite heat tolerant annual.



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