Flowers that Beat the Heat
Sizzling picks for garden hot spots
Blazing sun and drought conditions have you worked up into a sweat? Cool off with this list of pretty plant alternatives that go beyond cacti and succulents. These fuss-free, heat-tolerant hot shots are tough enough to handle whatever Mother Nature dishes out...and they'll crank up the color in your garden, too!
Gaillardia species and cultivars
Perky daisy-shaped blooms sit atop stiff stems; leaves are coarse and plants bushy.
Hardiness: Zones 3 to 9.
Bloom time: Summer through fall.
Size: 1 to 3 feet high; 6 to 24 inches wide.
Flower color: Yellow or red with yellow or purple centers.
Growing advice: Full sun and average soil are just fine.
Recommendations: Try bicolor 'Goblin'; the dwarf version is 'Bijou.' Wine-red 'Burgundy' is a lovely cultivar.
Grown for their showy, cup-shaped blooms, they're pretty as cut flowers.
Bloom time: Summer to frost.
Size: 1 to 6 feet high; 8 to 24 inches wide.
Flower color: White, purple and pink.
Growing advice: Grow in full sun to light shade. Reseeds readily.
Recommendations: 'Sea Shells' has tube-shaped petals that are intriguing.
These durable plants have a nice trailing habit, dense foliage and loads of small, fan-like flowers.
Bloom time: Summer.
Size: 6 to 20 inches high; sprawling, 20 to 36 inches.
Flower color: Purple, blue or white
Growing advice: Best in well-drained soil with regular moisture.
Recommendations: 'Blue Wonder' is outstanding.
Penstemon species and cultivars
Boasts arching stems laden with showy tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds.
Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8.
Bloom time: Early summer to fall.
Size: UP to 3 feet high and wide.
Charming flowers are carried on spreading, low stems of fleshy foliage. Use in containers, rock gardens or mixed plantings.
Bloom time: Summer.
Size: 4 to 8 inches high; 6 inches wide.
Flower color: Yellow, orange, red, hot pink, purple, white or apricot.
Growing advice: Hot, sunny and dry suits these beauties just fine!
Recommendations: Anything in the Sundial series is terrific; these tend to bloom earlier and stay open in low light.