By Greenstreet Gardens
Some plants just can’t take the heat — they’ll wither away if left in direct sunlight all day long. If you’ve ever planted perennials only to find their foliage wilting once the hot summer temperatures get into full swing, then you likely know what we mean.
But luckily, there are also plenty of hearty perennials that we would consider both sun and heat loving. Their moisture requirements may vary, but sun-loving perennials prefer at least six to eight hours of sunlight on an average day. Here are seven of our favorites.
Salvia is one of the most hardcore mainstays in a garden. They’re definitely a sun and heat loving perennial that we would recommend. Their fragrant, colorful spikes of densely packed blooms will add color and interest to your garden all summer and even into the fall. They are deer and rabbit resistant but will attract many beautiful pollinators like bees, hummingbirds and butterflies year after year.
Also commonly referred to as monarda or bergamot, bee balm is actually a close relative of salvia. This sun-loving herbaceous perennial is native to North America, and while it is also a member of the mint family, it doesn’t spread as aggressively as other mint plants. Rather than upright spikes, bee balm flowers open atop their stems, blooming in a range of pink, red, lavender, white, lilac and some blue tones. It is another wonderful addition to a pollinator garden that will bloom from summer into early fall.
These drought-tolerant perennials can definitely take the heat and sun. They come in a never-ending variety of shapes, colors and sizes and fit well into pollinator gardens, rock gardens, containers, beds and borders. Their hardy nature makes them a great option for dry spots, and as summer winds down and other flowers come to the end of their bloom cycle for the season, sedum buds will grace your garden with an array of dense clusters in pink, orange, red, white and lavender. You can choose a creeping sedum variety if you are in the market for a unique groundcover or mix taller varieties with summer perennials to maintain color in your garden all season long.
Surprisingly to some, lavender is actually another member of the mint family. As a heat loving perennial, lavender should be planted in full sun. Lavender can be planted in the spring after the risk of frost has passed and will grow at a relatively moderate pace to a mature size of approximately two to three feet tall and two to four feet wide. While it loves the sun, it doesn’t love wet feet and thus should always be planted in well-draining soil.
As yet another herbaceous, sun loving perennial, yarrow is also well suited to deal with heat. Once planted, it is one of the easiest perennials to maintain, requiring little to no care. It can thrive in various soil conditions when planted in full sun but does prefer well-draining soil. It doesn’t usually need to be fertilized, and while it is drought-tolerant, just like most other plants, yarrow will still need some watering if the dry conditions are extreme. It tends to have two bloom cycles — one in the spring and another later in the summer — and can be pruned after the first to keep the plant more compact and encourage further blooms.
Like many of the plants on this list, coneflowers work hard in your garden without asking for much in return. These sun loving perennials are native to North America, grow anywhere from two to four feet in height and grace gardens with beautiful daisy-like blooms with conelike centers. They are critter resistant but much loved by pollinators and will flower from midsummer until the frost descends on us in the fall — especially with some frequent deadheading to encourage new blooms.
Coreopsis is a sun loving perennial that brings a cheery yellow vibrancy to the garden. While it can tolerate some shade, it will not bloom as abundantly. Coreopsis prefers well-draining soil and, just like their other drought tolerant companions on this list, will attract plenty of pollinators while keeping unwanted critters like deer and rabbits at bay. Coreopsis is another perennial that benefits from some frequent deadheading to encourage new blooms.
In addition to being able to take the heat, almost all of these sun-loving perennials have the added perks of attracting pollinators. They’re relatively easy to maintain and will add interest to your garden throughout the growing season for years to come.
The writer is a familyowned, locally-grown garden center business based in Northern Virginia and Lothian, Maryland.