11 Plants That Thrive in Summer Heat and in Difficult Summer Spots

Right now, most of us who live in the northern hemisphere are experiencing the height of summer. Hot, long days coupled with either dry parched conditions or humid soaked air and ground make conditions hard for many plants. We’ve compiled a fun list of plants that actually do really well in these conditions - some even thrive in them! Here are our top 11 favorite plants that thrive in the summer heat, and how you can add them to your existing landscape.

Flowering shrubs are usually tougher customers in the heat than perennial plants and annuals because of their size. We especially love the new breakthrough in reblooming abelia: ‘Sunny Anniversary’. This compact abelia is a long-lived, tough as nails shrub that not only blooms more than once through the season, but also has blooms that last a really long time. Try using this small abelia around your sunny and hot side of the home’s foundation, behind a border of one of our amazing selections of ground cover roses.

Plants that like the shade seem to cope better with heat. They live in spots where soil stays fairly cool and slightly moist all of the time. It’s easy to keep mulch in a good amount in these spots because trees shed directly into shade beds usually. Soil is always better in shady spots too, which holds moisture better while staying drained. If you live in the south where the climate stays fairly dare say it, temperate year round, plants that require full sun in the north will often actually perform fine in your garden when planted in the shade. This isn’t a rule of thumb, but for some plants it works. Take sedums for example. There are many kinds of sedums, and we love them all. A particular favorite of ours is perfect in a partially shaded spot in the hot summer sun. Sedum Angelina or Blue Spruce Sedum creeps in between stones and other plants and makes a great ground cover. In a large terracotta pot, both will spill over beautifully. In the rock garden, Angelina and Blue Spruce thrive with their resistance to drought. When the little yellow flowers bloom, you’ll notice a proliferation of pollinators, especially butterflies.

Just behind our highlighted carpet of lovely sedum, a newer addition to the coneflower family makes a beautiful statement when given some hot summer sun protection. Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is indeed a durable coneflower, but it doesn’t bloom in the normal white or purple (which are lovely too of course). Instead, Cheyenne Spirit blooms in a mix of hot colors of pink, red, orange, and yellow. Imagine the bright punch of color that this long blooming coneflower would bring with our ‘Angelina’ sedum in front of it! And the butterflies would not be able to resist! In the hot summer sun, both of these plants laugh and soak the heat in. To encourage lots of blooming from any Echinacea, try deadheading them as the flowers fade. In the fall, allow some of the flower heads to stay and dry out, as songbirds love the seeds and rely on them through the winter.

Other wonderful plants that love the summer heat, all in full sun include our new addition to our Buddleias- ‘Blue Chip, Jr’ (or the Pink Chip) which would make a beautiful contrast among the warm colored ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ coneflowers and attract even more summer butterflies as it stays small and compact. While the tough Echinacea’s benefit from some deadheading, this wonder of a little seedless dwarf butterfly bush won’t need it at all. Pair with our ‘Moonbeam’ Coreposis for a full season of tough, beautiful contrasting companion colors.

Many people who live in urban areas have what they call “Hellstrips” in the front of their homes. They are spots that are usually covered in grass in-between the sidewalk and the street. These spots get hot and dry and compacted, where people sometimes walk through and dogs pee and in general for a plant in the summertime is pretty much hell. However, lots of city gardeners take their hellstrips and turn them into something beautiful. Wonderful candidates for the hot and busy hellstrip include Hypericum Calycinum (or St.Johns Wort), ‘Little Spire’ Russian Sage‘Phenomenal’ Lavender‘Color Guard’ Yucca, and ‘Boulder Blue’ Fescue grass. All together, these plants would look fantastic. They’d also be a scented treat for you and your neighbors. You can also pick three or four from this group as well and you’d still make a beautiful hellstrip that laughs at the hot and dry summer heat while withstanding (or even repelling) dog and human activity. You can use this same group anywhere in the hottest parts of the garden for a beautiful, season long display of complimenting textures, colors, and top-notch performance during the hottest summer days!

If you have plants that aren’t coping as well as our favorite 11 here, there are some things you can do to help them get through the worst of the hot weather. Parched plants that look like they are running out of water may need to be watered, but if you have a wilting plant that is sitting in moist soil, the humidity could be to blame. A lot of plants that don’t like the heat may wilt and droop when it’s hot and humid outside, despite being watered sufficiently. There isn’t much you can do aside from possibly moving the plant into a shadier and cooler spot in your landscape- which often works wonders on less heat-tolerant plants (lupine is one good example).

Plant a landscape that loves the summer as much as you do by selecting plants made for the sun and heat. Enjoy a warm season of color, texture, scent, and ease with these eleven plants! 

Click here for more sun and heat tolerant plants.