If you're like us......love to garden but not
quite so much when the weather gets hot and sticky. You
may even spend a little time thinking up lots of
interesting excuses for staying inside. Well I've got a
little list of summer, tough and carefree plants.
The first one and #1 for us is the Pentas. They are a
wonderful perennial and very tough......you can get them
in many different colors like white, shades of pink,
fuchsia, lavender, some even bicolor like red and white.
Pentas also are available in low growing types or tall
types that will grow 2 to 3 ft. Low types do very well in
pots or even hanging baskets and the taller types will
prefer to be in the ground. They will do well in areas
that may get a little shade but they prefer full sun. When
planted in beds use a few different colors together for a
very spectacular look. Cut off the spent flower heads and
more bud portions will form. Another nice thing about
Pentas is that they are butterfly attractants especially
the red ones. Whirling Butterflies (or Gaura) is also a
perennial and is a new favorite of ours even though
they've been around for awhile. Small pink or white
flowers on tall wispy stems can be a pretty addition to a
sunny garden. You can grow them in pots or plant them
right in the ground. Soon they'll be a favorite of yours
also. Caladiums are the toughest shade loving
plants.......they come in just about any color arrangement
and design you can imagine. Springtime is when you
probably first notice the bulbs at the garden center as
they're usually displayed along with other 'bulb' plants.
Many people pass them by as they don't wish to be bothered
with planting 'bulbs'.....but when you first see them at
the stores or garden centers they are available to plant
at that time. And....even better.....a little later in the
season you may also find them as a full sized plant.
Caladiums Photo by Tom MacCubbin
Caladiums are wonderful plants for a shady area around
your pool as they don't shed or become messy and will give
you nice color. They will also do well in a shade or part
sun garden area. Caladiums will die back in the late fall
and that's ok but will return better than ever the
following spring. Many people become 'caladium collectors'
when they discover their beauty and how many different
color patterns there are.
Mona Lavender is another
new favorite of ours. It's been around but we've
Mona Lavender Photo by Tom MacCubbin
recently found out what a tough plant it really is. We planted 3
of them in separate large pots to be placed on some tall
wooden planters. Two of the plants were new and one we had
for awhile which was very pretty with nice dark green
foliage and full of clusters of beautiful purple flowers.
After a few days we had a very windy day and the poor
older plant broke in pieces. I wanted to toss it and buy
another plant. But time passed and before we got to the
store to replace it.....it began to recover. We added a
little fertilizer and in about 2-3 weeks it had recovered
perfectly and looks as beautiful or more so than the
An old favorite of ours and to many of you
is the marigold. They are one of the toughest plant.
You'll find them in many colors from yellows, golds or
variegated.......large flowering or small. Prune off spent
flowers and the plant will keep looking it's best. Plant
them in pots of assorted plants, by themselves in a bowl
or in beds to provide great color. Marigolds are an annual
and have a shorter life span and when they start to look
shabby.....just pull out the ones that 'gave up' and
replace them with others to finish out your garden season.
Finally Bulbine is also a good addition to a
garden. They are now often seen in
Bulbine Photo by Tom MacCubbin
median strips in roadways. So that proves their ability to be
super tough. Flowers can be yellow, gold or bicolor of the
same colors. The plant itself will be 10- 12 inches
tall with flower stems as tall as 2 ft. Bulbine is drought
tolerant and will grow in poor soil conditions. Plant in
full sun for it to do it's best even though a little shade
will not seem to matter. What's even nice about this plant
is that will do well even if the temperatures dip into the
low 20's and let's hope that doesn't happen.