Plants That Beat the Heat

Mariah Bock  |  7/21/2014 11:23:03 PM

Serena angelonias are dependable bloomers even during the hottest summer conditons (photo by LSU AgCenter Horticulturist, Allen Owings).

While summer temperatures have been slightly cooler than normal here in South Louisiana, our lawns and gardens are still feeling the heat. Selecting bedding plants that will last through summer and into the fall can save you time and money. Angelonias, hibiscus, lantanas, pentas and zinnias are all low maintenance bloomers. They withstand high heat and humidity and are fairly drought tolerant as well.

New to some home gardeners, angelonias have been a top bedding plant in the gulf states for over ten years. Sometimes referred to as “summer snapdragons," they perform well in both containers and landscape beds. Angelonias were recognized for their tough nature and long lasting blooms in 2011 when the Serena series was named a Louisiana Super Plant. To gain Louisiana Super Plant status, plants undergo several years of observation and evaluations at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. Plants must perform well under Louisiana conditions.

Bandana lantanas were named a Louisiana Super Plant in 2013. Unlike other lantanas the Bandana series creates a compact, dense mound and only reaches a maximum height of approximately two feet. Flowers are large and available in a variety of brilliant colors. Blooming will typically last until the first frost. Lantanas make a great addition to a sunny location and are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

Luna hibiscus, a 2014 Louisiana Super Plant, thrives during our steamy Louisiana summers. It produces large, 7-8 inch flowers and is available in four colors. Plants will grow to nearly three feet in height with a similar spread and can create quite an impact. Flowering continues from late spring through September. Luna hibiscus is heat tolerant and performs well in wet or dry soil conditions.

Keep in mind that although we have had our fair share of rain this year, watering can be crucial during the summer months. Even plants that are drought tolerant may start to look puny after a number of hot, dry days. When in need, always water plants deeply and thoroughly. Try to avoid watering every day.

For more information or a list of Louisiana Super Plant retailers contact the St. John Parish LSU AgCenter extension office at 985-497-3261 or visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

Mariah J. Simoneaux is the LSU AgCenter county agent for St. John Parish.

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