Some like it hot: Sizzlin' summer plants
By Beth Thiret – Colorado State University Master Gardener in Larimer County
The heat is on, so say goodbye to the pansies and tulips. Here are some top contenders in the heat-loving summer plant category. If these hotties were on a dating app you’d be swiping right on each of them.
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans): These annuals are always head turners. Variety is their best quality, with a wide range in color, size and petal formation. Give them full sun, heat and good drainage then sit back and watch your yard light up like a dance floor. Zinnias are hardy and they germinate quickly from seed, making them a good choice for gardeners of all ages and levels of experience.
Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata): A perennial ground cover sending out a mat of bright magenta flowers, this crowd pleaser will get attention from the bees and butterflies. But at a height of only four to ten inches at maturity, this native plays it coy and doesn’t ask for much attention. Avoid overwatering, though, as this plant loves to honeymoon wherever the water takes it.
Sunset Hyssop (Agastache rupestris): Here’s a tall drink of water that prefers the xeric landscape of full sun and occasional moisture. Plant Select® brought this stunner out in 1997. Sunset hyssop can reach up to 42 inches with a bloom season from summer into fall. Its orange flowers will become a nonstop singles mixer for pollinators of all shapes and sizes. Meanwhile, deer and rabbits are wallflowers and tend to admire the blossoms from afar.
Rubber Rabbit Brush (Ericameria nauseosa): If you prefer your plants a little more “au natural” the rabbit brush is sure to please. This is another native plant that loves our high plains desert environment. Show this 42 inch high late bloomer full sun, give it infrequent water and it will say thank you in yellow flowers. Be prepared to receive love notes from the bees and butterflies, and watch the birds do a fly over of appreciation for the added seed and shelter.
The dating scene for summer flora is sizzlin’ and these plants are loving it. As with all new plantings, more frequent waterings are necessary while they establish. Check your local garden centers for plant availability. More information on xeric and native plants for Colorado gardens is available at www.extension.colostate.edu or Plant Select® (plantselect.org).
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