Top 3 Annuals for Hot Sun

By Chris Edmunds

 
Some tried and true heat-loving blooms that will soak up the rays without getting burnt.
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On the prairies of the Midwest, we experience seasons to the fullest degree. Our autumns are crisp and colorful, our winters dreadfully cold, our springs rainy, and our summers scorching hot. We ask a lot of our annuals in their short growing season, not the least of which is to flourish under the blazing sun of summer. We need a special type of tough to make it all the way to the other side of summer when things cool off again. Thankfully, at Kaw Valley, we have some tried and true heat-loving blooms that will soak up the rays without getting burnt. Here are our top stunners that don’t break a sweat in the hot sun.

Luscious Lantanas

Kaw-lantana.pngThese blooms give an instant boost of happy for your backyard, and they don’t quit all season. Lantanas feature spherical clusters of colorful flowers that come in a wide variety of shades, including both solid and multi-color blends. Whether your look is bright and vibrant neons or soft and subtle pastels, you’ll find many options that can tough out the worst heat waves.

One of our favorites is Luscious Royale Cosmo, featuring stunning umber sunset colors, transitioning from magenta through golden orange that suits the feeling of our hottest months. Some other popular favorites that you might see decorating your neighborhood yards are:

  • Luscious Marmalade: Tangerine and gold are a celebration of the hot summer sun.

  • Luscious Citrus Blend: Candy apple red and yellow blooms positively pop against their green foliage.

  • Luscious Grape: Bright lilac and purple blooms look daintier than these tough flowers actually are.

Kaw-hotsun.pngGrowing Your Lantana

Location isn’t difficult, as long as they can bask away in full sun all season. Water them when the top of the soil is dry, and your flowers will continue to grow and bloom despite the heat.

When it comes to fertilizing your lantana, there is such thing as too much of a good thing! Too much fertilizer can stunt their growth, so take it easy and opt out of all that fertilizing work. Dose them once in the summer or start them with some good compost when planting, and you’ll be able to just sit back and watch them bloom the rest of the season.

Trimming is a good tool to help your lantana keep their bushy and rounded shape more manicured. If your plant is looking a bit leggy, feel free to trim back and deadhead so it fills in and makes room for more flowers.

Pentas

Kaw-pentas.pngAnnual pentas, also known as Egyptian Stars, are named after their flower’s characteristic five-petaled star shape. This bushy plant takes hold in your garden and simply thrives. We love the shades of pink, purple, lavender, and red that they come in almost as much as we love how popular they are with butterflies and hummingbirds.

Grow Your Own Pentas

To get things started, you’ll want to loosen up the soil under your planting location (about 12 inches deep) and mix in some compost so that the roots have lots of space to develop and nutrients available. While pentas certainly soak up the sun once they are established, we’ve always found that planting in the afternoon on a cloudier day helps them avoid transplant shock. Space your pentas a foot apart (they grow fast!) and loosen up the root ball before planting. By planting properly, all you’ll need to do is water weekly and provide occasional fertilizer to enjoy the enthusiastic growth and darling flowers.

Angelonia (Summer Snapdragon)

Angelonias are another favorite for hot and dry prairie summers, and their nickname, Summer Snapdragon, tells you just how much they love summer heat! These flowers have tall and slender stalks that support beautiful blooms of blue, purple, red, pink, and white, but their foliage is just as noteworthy, having such a pretty and complementary blue-green tone.

Kaw-angelonia.pngAngelonias command a lot of presence in a yard, spreading 1-2 feet across and 1-3 feet high per plant, depending on if you opt for a full size or dwarf variety. They look particularly fantastic mixed into containers, as they are mild-mannered enough to get along with other annuals, like geraniums and dusty miller, without overtaking them.

The purple-blue hued Alonia BIG Indigo is one of the most popular varieties, having made a name for itself for its resilience in even the toughest and hottest summers. We love the colorful shades of the blooms, but they also have a pleasant fragrance that smells like fresh apples. With their lovely scent and looks combined, they’re a fresh face to your garden in the heat when some of your other plants might be struggling.

Angelonia in Your Garden

Choose a spot with well-draining soil mixed with some compost. To get the prettiest bushes that are full of blooms, pinch off the tip of the main stem once it reaches 6 inches tall.

The young plants are more sensitive to drought, so you’ll want to water a few times a week for the first three weeks. After that, though, they thrive on a little neglect! Water your angelonias only when the soil is dry and fertilize once a month to keep these low-maintenance beauties happy. Around midsummer, your plant may get a little unruly, whether it’s in a bed or a container, so feel free to trim back ⅓ of their height, encouraging them to produce a fresh burst of flowers for you to enjoy.

 

Finding tough flowers that satisfy our desire for backyard beauty and withstand our intense summers can be challenging-- but it’s not impossible. These hot-weather annuals prove that they can be stunning and strong, bringing color and style to your backyard even when the temperatures rise. We take pride in our tough, Midwestern-tested plants so you can bring them home and plant with confidence that your yard, garden, and containers will look beautiful all summer long! Pick some up at our sprawling plant nursery in Tyler Road Wichita.

 

 
 

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