May signifies the last month of spring and the transition to summer. May is also when your cool weather annuals like, pansies, petunias, snapdragons and others will play out and it’s time to replace with heat loving annuals. These plants will grow, bloom and perform throughout the summer and fall until it’s time again for the cool weather annuals.
Here are the most popular, top performing heat loving annuals for our area:
Sun loving summer annuals include:
Vinca – Heat and drought tolerant, and offering continual without deadheading, these are a staple summer flowering plant. Vinca do not like cool weather or too much moisture, so be sure to place them in an area that will be well-drained.
Zinnia – Zinnias are great plants for butterfly gardeners. They really bring in loads of the hovering beauties into the back yard. Zinnias do require some deadheading to promote rebloom, and the lower foliage in summer can get tired, so use these in the middle or back of a flowerbed.
Angelonia – These are sometimes called Summer Snapdragons. Their tall, spiky blooms are surely reminiscent of cool-season snapdragon flowers. Angelonia are heat and disease resistant. The Serena varieties are an LSU Super Plant.
Lantana – Like several on this list, Lantana are especially popular with butterfly enthusiasts. Lantana grow in very challenging, poor soils with plenty of sun. Too much shade or too much nitrogen fertilizer may result in of an abundance of leaves but few blooms. Put this one out by the mailbox where you might not always get to it with the hose, and it will appreciate the neglect.
Penta – Pentas are my all-time favorite problem-free annual. Heat and drought tolerant, bug and disease-proof, Pentas are not especially fussy about sun or soil, either. They give good rebloom without deadheading, and they are another great nectar plant for pollinators.
Strap Leaf Caladiums – Many know caladiums as a great source of color for shady areas, but did you know that several varieties can take full sun? These bold foliage plants always look good, because they do not depend on flowering to look good. See a sales associate to find out how to pick out the varieties that take sun.
Sun Coleus – Just like caladiums for sun, many new coleus varieties are true sun-lovers. This is another plant that is always a stunner in the garden, because they get their visual appeal from the leaves, not flowers. Keep coleus well-watered until fully established, and they will be very tough and durable plants after they have spread their roots.
Salvia – Annual and perennial salvias alike are true staples of the summer garden. Many get a second wave of heavy blooming from late summer into fall, when more sensitive garden plants are slowing down. Salvias attract another favorite garden visitor – hummingbirds! There are several different varieties (and colors) of Salvia!
Bronze Leaf Begonia – Tropical, heat-loving, and drought tolerant, begonias are great garden plants. Did you know that bronze-leaved varieties take full sun? They are very water-wise, and handle drought well, but cannot handle wet soils. Plant them in well-drained beds.
Purslane / Portulaca – These two succulent summer annuals are different plants, but their care is very similar. These plants like LOTS of sun and VERY little water. Good to plant in sandy or rocky soils, or great in pots, especially those that don’t get watered often. These plants can survive, and in fact bloom and be healthy, with several weeks without water.
Shade loving summer annuals include:
Impatiens – Impatiens are a great plant in partly sunny to shady locations that get plenty of moisture. Many folks are opting for the newer New guinea Impatiens for their improved vigor and resistance to fungus.
Caladiums – While some types of Caladiums have been proven to endure some sun, all Caladiums do very well in shade. Bold, tropical leaves, in tones of red, pink, white, and green, brighten up the shadiest corners with an uninterrupted show until fall. If plants flower, blooms should be pinched off so the plant can produce more beautiful leaves.
Green Leaf Begonia – While impatiens are moisture lovers, begonias can do dry shade very well. The clean green leaves are not fazed by heat, and they plants bloom continuously without additional fertilizer or deadheading. In the right spot, begonias sometimes survive the winter and come back year after year!
Torenia – Torenia is also known as wishbone flower. It is a dainty and compact plant, but it puts out loads of blooms even in shade, and it does not slow down with the heat. There are upright and trailing types, but both stay in place well, and do not become lanky or messy. They also do very well in hanging baskets!
Shade Coleus – Traditionally, Coleus have been shade plants, and they continue to be one of the most exciting plants to use in less sunny areas of the flower bed. The amount of color choices and leaf types is incredible! There is truly a coleus out there to please everyone.
Potato Vine – Potato vine is a plant that can grow well in very challenging conditions. Since the root is a giant tuber, they do not need loads of organic material to put out good growth. I especially like to use it among the roots of large shade trees as a ground cover. The lime green varieties look especially bright and cheerful in shady areas.
Lysimachia – Creeping Jenny and its relatives are going to really shine in shady areas, but can take some good sun, too. They make bright, carefree groundcovers, and look especially good in hanging baskets. Creeping Jenny can brighten any planter combo with its vigorous, chartreuse shoots of perfect rounded foliage.
Within these categories there are different series and within each series there are different varieties to choose from. When replacing your annuals you should add some fresh soil and a slow release fertilizer.
Remember to properly water your annuals until they are established and growing.