For those of us who adore gardening and cannot wait to get our hands in the dirt in the spring, at the first signs of warmer weather we rush out to our local nursery to load upon beautiful plants and fragrant herbs. If we do our homework beforehand, we can avoid a carload of plants that are either hard to maintain or don’t have a chance in withstanding the very hot and very dry South Georgia climate. In this type of weather, anything not covered by shade or built to withstand the sun’s baking will be a waste of our hard-earned money and precious time. Every plant needs three things – fertilizing, weeding, and watering. Fortunately, those little tags on each plant is a wealth of knowledge and can help guide your decisions. Here are some great heat tolerant plants that are low maintenance and can hold their own against Mother Nature!
Lantana likes it hot and humid, and grows best in moist, well-draining soil (but can withstand drought conditions). It thrives in the sun, especially afternoon sun, and blooms year-round in tight clusters of red, orange, yellow, pink, or white. The flowers are ideal for planting along the perimeters of vegetable gardens, as they’re irresistible to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Place them near crops that need to be pollinated, such as squash and melons.
Lemon Verbena is a hardy, sun-loving herb hails from South America but is now grown around the world. It’s said that in summer, Victorian women used to find relief from the sweltering heat by packing lemon verbena leaves in their handkerchiefs and inhaling the sweet, citrusy aroma. Nowadays, you can simply plant lemon verbena near your doors and windows for a whiff of the pleasing scent. Once established, it only needs weekly watering and puts out pretty white flowers in late summer to early fall.
Cosmos are tall, showy annuals with silky, daisy-like flowers that are native to Mexico, able to take the heat and the drought—thus making them ideal for gardens that endure sweltering heat or areas with poor soil. In fact, soil that is too rich will make them weak-stemmed and floppy, so plant them in beds you’ve long neglected if you want to inject a lot of color in your space with little to no maintenance.
Marigolds appear on almost every list of ideal warm-weather flowers, and for good reason: they’re classic, easy to grow, come in cheerful tones of orange and yellow, and bloom in summer and fall when many other plants are griping about the heat. Plant them in well-draining soil in full sun, and water well at the root zone, allowing the soil to dry a bit between watering.
Salvias (also known as sages) are long-blooming, deer-resistant, easy to grow, and easy to care for. Being native to the Mediterranean, salvias are heat-tolerant, prefer full sun, and thrive with minimal summer watering, making them ideal for dry gardens and drought-friendly landscapes. The most eye-catching salvias have masses of showy blue or purple flowers that bloom all summer long and attract a variety of pollinators.
As mild and comfortable as spring can be, we Southern folks know that summer is coming and it is going to hot, sticky, and dry with many days reaching the 100-degree mark by noon. The plants mentioned above can withstand all that while providing beauty to our landscape and little to know work from us. What more could we ask for? So, plant these hardy plants now for bright, cheerful gardens that will make you the envy of the neighborhood!