Beat the Heat with these Summer Bloomers

The good news is there are a number of plants that take the heat and don’t miss a beat. This group of top notch performers includes annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs and trees. Some bloom for weeks, and others continue well into fall. An added bonus is that some of these “good doers,” like gardenias, offer fragrant flowers, too.

I still remember the gardenia my grandmother grew in her garden in south Florida. I don’t know what the cultivar was, but the scented flowers were delightful. A large shrub, it took up a corner of her backyard. For a more compact selection that reblooms, try Jubilation™ Gardenia. Maturing at 3 to 4’ tall and 3’ wide, this gardenia will perfume your landscape from spring through summer. Make sure to site it so you can easily appreciate its delicious perfume. For something different, use it as a low evergreen hedge. For a contrast, combine with large dark leaved Cannas and tall fragrant hybrid lilies.

For some gardeners, it wouldn’t be summer without crapemyrtles. Often though, crapemyrtles become large trees that require lots of pruning to keep them in bounds. If you love Crapemyrtle blooms but have limited space, try Delta Jazz®. This selection offers pink blooms and dark burgundy foliage. Maturing at 6 to 10 feet tall, it is easy to use in the flower garden in combination with sun loving perennials and annuals.

Old fashioned, crinum lilies have been grown for generations in Southern gardens, and with good reason. Blooming in summer, Crinum ‘Ellen Bosanquet’ produces large burgundy trumpets, which rise above clumps of glossy, lush foliage. This sturdy perennial will form a large clump in short order and requires a minimum of care. In spring, it provides the perfect backdrop for the fragrant bulb Grand Primo Narcissus.

Rain lilies are among the easiest bulbs to grow, and Zephyranthes grandiflora the Pink Rain lily blooms in summer and fall, often following a rain. Tuck them in the front of the flower border or plant them between stepping stones. This bulb grows to 6 inches tall and forms clumps of grass-like foliage that looks good even when the plant is not blooming. 

Heliotropium amplexicaule ‘Azure Skies’ is a heat tolerant perennial, producing clusters of lavender flowers from spring until fall. This heliotrope is reported to be “deer resistant.” An American native, it has a spreading habit and grows 12 to 14 inches tall. Plant it in front of shrubs or trees, or combine with other perennials, annuals or ornamental grasses like Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gold Breeze,’ which has variegated foliage and gold feathery blooms in August.

If your garden looks lackluster in the middle of summer, give it a lift by adding containers with colorful combinations of annuals, perennials, shrubs and bulbs. A striking combination that I recently planted for my front porch includes mandevilla and a dwarf pomegranate. The vivid flowers of Mandevilla complement the orange flowers of the dwarf pomegranate, Punica granatum ‘Orange Blossom Special.’ The pomegranate matures at 2 to 3 feet wide and tall, making it ideal for container gardens.