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16 Full Sun Annuals for Patios and Window Boxes

When the dog days of summer arrive, the heat is stifling and the humidity is high, most plants are going to be stressed.  However, there are full sun annuals that not only survive, they thrive when the heat is on.

Contributors: Kerry Meyer

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What plants do well in full hot sun?

These sixteen plants will take the heat and keep growing strong.

 

 

Summer Snapdragon

Angelface® Cascades Angelonia 

If you’re looking for easy care flowers for your containers and landscape but struggle to find something that survives your hot, humid summers, try Angelface and Angelface Super summer snapdragons. They bloom all season long with flowers on tall spikes, and don’t need to be deadheaded to keep them flowering. These robust annuals will fill a smaller container on its own, or you could use it as a tall thriller in the middle of a large combination container planting. If you are looking for a filler and spiller, our Angelface Cascade varieties are just the ticket. And Angelface is not one to faint the first time you miss watering either—thank goodness for easy to grow plants like Angelface!

They come in shades of blue, pink and white and have three different habits. Regular Angelface are upright and 18-30” tall. The Angelface Supers are upright and 30-40” tall. The Angelface Cascades are mounded-trailing and 8-14” tall.

Euphorbia

Diamond Mountain Euphorbia

Now euphorbia comes in small (Diamond Delight®), medium (Diamond Frost®), and extra-large with the introduction of Diamond Mountain. If you’ve grown this versatile annual, you know it pairs well with just about everything in sun and part shade. Think of it like baby’s breath, adding a hint of white to complement everything around it. We introduced this super-sized variety to be able to compete with our most vigorous annuals like Supertunia Vista® petunias, creating magnificent hanging baskets and huge upright containers. It’s also a great heat and drought tolerant plant for the landscape, growing similar in size and shape to a spirea shrub. You’ve never seen a euphorbia quite like this!   

2-3’ tall. Part sun to sun. Annual.

Globe Amaranth

Truffula Pink Gomphrena

Here’s a must-have plant for any lover of awesome plants. It’s so easy to grow this vigorous annual that blooms like crazy all season and keeps its shape better than some gomphrenas. Full, bushy plants become covered in hot pink, cotton ball-shaped blossoms that pollinators adore. They last a long time when cut for fresh bouquets and even dry the same color, so you can use them in dried crafts and arrangements, too. This plant thrives in heat and humidity, and handles drought once its roots are established. Grow it in large containers or in the landscape where it will shine brightly from spring into fall.

22-30” tall. Full sun. Annual.

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine

Sweet Caroline Medusa® Green Ipomoea

It’s not every day that we get this excited over a new foliage plant, but Sweet Caroline Medusa Green was definitely a favorite. Distinctive palm-shaped leaves have a thick texture that prevents them from wilting in the heat of the day. Tight internodes result in a compact, mounded-trailing shape that helps it behave in recipes where it won’t overrun its companions. Sweet Caroline Medusa Green is ideal for tighter landscape applications where it won’t need to be trimmed constantly to stay in bounds. It can be used in place of a Boston fern in hanging baskets where it will thrive in sun or shade and require less water. We think gardeners will love this new kind of Ipomoea for its ease of maintenance and unique foliage.

6-12” height; 18-24” spread; part sun to sun; vigor 3

Related: Sweet Potato Vine Care Guide

Bush Daisy

High Noon® Euryops

Sunny yellow is a perennial favorite for gardeners. This new tough, durable, heat tolerant annual is a great addition to our collection of yellow flowers. It is an easy to grow plant that is dramatically improved versus previous versions of this plant.  High Noon sets the new standard for the genus. We’ve refined it by making it more colorful with larger flowers and we’ve given it a denser, more compact habit. Long flower stems help it mix easily with other heat loving plants like Luscious® Lantana and Angelface® Cascade Angelonia in hanging baskets and upright containers. Its semi-succulent, thick leaves are perfectly uniform and handled dry down better than other Euryops.

10-14” height; 12-18” spread; part sun to sun.


 

Lantana

Luscious® Lantana

We’ve improved on a classic favorite by adding more flowers on more densely branched plants for this series. Watch as the hummingbirds come calling when its clusters of tubular flowers are on display. Plant one in your window box so you can see the show up close. Luscious lantana are fantastic sun, heat and drought tolerant flowers for large containers and landscapes. Since they are selected to have no or few seeds, they’ll bloom continuously all season without deadheading.  Our newest addition is Luscious Royale Red Zone, which is certified sterile, which can be important in mild winter climates.

20-30” tall. Full sun. Annual.

Salvia

Rockin’® Salvia

If you want to see pollinators in your garden, plant these salvias. These revolutionary new varieties bears large, intensely colored flowers with black bracts. Their deep throats hold plenty of nectar for your favorite winged creatures all season long. Rockin’s are also more refined than many salvias of this type, forming bushy, upright clumps of deep green foliage. That means it won’t take over the container when you plant it with other vigorous annuals, and it will fill out beautifully when given plenty of room to strut its stuff in the landscape.

24-40” tall. Part sun to sun. Annual. 

Available in 4 flower colors.

 


Fan Flower

Whirlwind® Scaevola

Don’t be fooled by the delicate looking, fan-shaped flowers and gracefully mounded to spreading habit of this beautiful series. It is native to the Bush Country of Western Australia, which makes it extremely tolerant of heat, humidity and drought once established. It makes a fun filler and spiller in your containers but is also a durable groundcover when planted in the landscape. It is available in pink, blue, white and now a light blue and white bicolor.

8-14” tall. Part sun to sun. Annual.

 

Canna Lily

Toucan® Canna

If you love the look of tropical plants but need one that is as easy to grow as a petunia, try our Toucan Cannas. They grow quickly to make bold thrillers in your large containers and thrive in the landscape too. Cannas flower like crazy all summer in warm climates where they love the heat, and are grown more for their bold foliage in northernmost climates where they bloom late in the season.  They come in 4 colors Yellow, Coral, Dark Orange and Scarlet.  They love the heat, but despite the title of this article they aren’t really a good option for window boxes!

30-48” tall. Part Sun to Sun. Annual.

Spider Flower

Senorita Cleome

Cleomes (spider flowers) have been around for a long time. But there was talk. Thorns. Sticky leaves and stems. The Senoritas have restored Cleome's reputation. The magnificent dark leaves on their 3-5 feet tall upright branches are topped by clusters of flowers. And they bloom with abandon from late spring through fall. They scoff at heat, and renounce all thorns and sticky substances. Deadheading isn’t needed. They are free of pests and disease, although peacocks will munch the flowers. So avoid them if you have flocks of free-roaming peacocks! Not good for window boxes.
24-48” tall. Sun. Annual.

Large Firecracker Plant

Vermillionaire® Cuphea

Vermillionaire is an absolute hummingbird magnet! It is extremely heat and humidity tolerant; very low maintenance, and great for southern gardens and everywhere else. It is drought tolerant, but can also tolerate higher water and fertilizer applications. It is great when planted in landscapes and wonderful in containers by itselft or when used as a thriller in combination recipes.

18-28” tall. Full Sun. Annual.

 

Dwarf Morning Glory

Blue My Mind® Evolvulus

Sky blue flowers are in short supply. The most common sky blue flowers, Lobelia and Delphiniums, are decidedly not heat lovers. Enter Blue My Mind Evolvulus which is both a true sky blue color and a true heat lover, it will thrive in the deep South, and everywhere elese,  and handles humidity with ease. It’s a great plant for the most heat blasted locations in your garden.

6-12” tall. Full Sun. Annual.

Coleus

ColorBlaze® Plectranthus

Add a little WOW! power to your containers and landscape with these outstanding coleus. The color range goes from radiant gold foliage and red venation that glows from a distance to black with a slim lime edge. The fifteen options in this group grow vigorously to form full, bushy clumps of fantastic foliage. In lower light, the colors will be different than when grown in a sunnier location. All of the ColorBlaze coleus, are bred to bloom very late or not at all, extending their garden performance into fall. Our newest addition to this collection is ColorBlaze Royale Pineapple Brandy.

16-40” Tall. Sun to Shade. Annual.

Purslane

Mojave® Portulaca

These durable and colorful flowering succulents bloom all summer long in juicy shades of tangerine, pink, red, fuchsia, and yellow without deadheading. Choose which color suits your color palette when you buy. The vivid blooms are a welcome sight especially in high summer when they really come into their own. These plants are a great choice for warm climates and poor, drier soils

Sedum

Lemon Coral® Sedum

Lemon Coral is a world-class champ at looking great when conditions are challenging. The spikey chartreuse foliage looks like it would be tough and prickly, but is actually quite soft and "petable." It is wonderful in landscapes and is an outstanding container plant, where it will fall over the edge of containers. It loves heat and can tolerate dry soils, although average moisture will keep it looking fresh. Lemon Coral is grown for its lovely foliage, although if you are lucky it may bloom as well


 

Blanket Flower

Heat it Up® Gaillardia

I love plants that have multiple traits to recommend them. This duo are not just fast-growing fillers, they are heat tolerant and pollinators adore them. The plants feature either scarlet-red flowers with yellow tips or sunny yellow flowers.  They flower continuously all summer long without deadheading. I've never been near these plants in bloom without seeing a bevy of bees. I adore these plants!
12-24” tall, Up to 3 feet wide. Part sun to sun.

Want to Learn More?
Container Gardening Guide
Browse Container Garden Recipes that use ColorBlaze® coleus.
Watch dozens of gardening videos on our YouTube channel.
Explore our Pinterest board that features plants that are great in both sun and shade.
See more container plants for full sun on GardenDesign.com.

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