Adventures in Gardening: Hot Lovers

by David Soper

With gardens scorching all across America is is good to know some of the plants that really do like it hot or, at least, can tolerate these temperatures.

One of my favorites is Coreopsis or "Tickseed". You'll be able to find it in three main forms, the traditional single with bright yellow blossoms, a double version of that and my favorite, 'Moonbeam.'

'Moonbeam' is a lovely pale yellow that seems to work with most colors in your garden. Some of the brighter coreopsis clash with their neighbors with their vivid yellow colors. This particular cultivar grows to be about 1.5' and needs no staking. It is, as advertised, drought tolerant and is quite resistant to mildew. East Coast humidity doesn't seem to faze it.

Cosmos, including the newish chocolate version, thrive in high temperatures. While generally annuals, they reseed easily and will be a constant presence in your garden if you let it. They look best in massed groupings and toward the back of your beds since they can be tall. Some can exceed four feet! This is not a fussy plant and will thrive in hot areas. You may have to stake this Southwest native but it is worth it. Long- blooming, they are a delight in gardens.

The classic Cosmos bipinnatus is 'Sensation.' It is prove what breeders are able to produce. Colors include pink, rose, lavender or white.

A shorter form is C. sulphureus 'Sunny Red' which is quite bushy and tops out at 14 inches or so.

Lots of choices when you want to grow Salvias, another hot weather choice. In this one, plant in full sun unless your temperatures are consistently over 90 degrees. With those really high temperatures, they like partial shade.

Flowers are tubular in rings on long spires. Pretty neat! The common name for this plant is sage, so you can find lots under such names as violet sage, scarlet sage, gentian sage, and as Clary sage or meadow clary.

Among the easiest to grow and therefore not always appreciated is the Zinnia. Once again lots of choices here. They come in just about any size you want with blooms ranging from tiny buttons to 7" giants. Most of the flowers will be about 3".

This plant benefits from some judicious mulching to help it retain a little moisture and be sure to dead head regularly. If you do, the plant rewards you with bushy growth and lots of repeat flowers.

While the plants I've mentioned here today (with more next week) all will do well in hot weather, none can exist without occasional water. TV's Paul James recommends at least an inch a week, if you can spare it.

Good luck and great gardening,
David Soper, The Garden Guy

David Soper, The Garden Guy, writes and lectures on gardening topics. Check out his books at

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