This bright and showy perennial attracts butterflies and honeybees with large yellow-orange heads that stand strong when other plants droop from the heat. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) grows well in Zones 3 through 9 of the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Map, and it reaches two to three feet at maturity. The multi-blossom heads show from June through late August, making it a seasonal favorite for borders and flower beds.
You’ll find purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) growing wild along country roads throughout the Midwest in Zones 3 through 8. The heat-tolerant beauty blooms in the sizzling summer temperatures of June through August. While the native version tends to look a little gangly near the end of its bloom cycle, hybridized cultivars (such as 'Powwow Wild Berry') maintain a more compact height of two to three feet, making them well suited to the home garden.
A standout in the Southern garden, lantana (Lantana camara) begins blooming in July and doesn’t stop until the first autumn frost. In hardiness zones 10 through 11, lantana is a perennial shrub that blooms year after year, producing eye-catching blossoms in a range of colors like soft yellow, pink, bright orange, and vivid red. In Zones 7 through 9, gardeners can grow lantana as an annual. This small shrub reaches a diminutive 12 inches in height, and it resists both drought and heat.
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Egyptian Star Cluster
Although it’s a perennial in Zones 10 and 11, Egyptian star cluster (Pentas lanceolata) is widely grown as an annual in Zones 3 through 9. The plant can reach three feet in height, and it blooms from early summer until the first frost. Its red or pink star-shaped flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds even on the hottest summer day.
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In May and June, viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) offers homeowners a showy display of soft white, faintly fragrant clusters of blossoms. During the remaining summer months, the plant transforms into a glossy green specimen shrub, standing up to hot temperatures and hosting birds and small wildlife beneath its sweeping boughs. Viburnum reaches an average height of 8 to 10 feet, with the hybrid cultivar 'Siebold' topping out at 20 feet. The plant is suitable for hardiness zones 2 through 8.
Producing a rainbow of bright colors—such as purple, pink, fire-engine red, and soft cream— zinnias are a heat-tolerant favorite in Zones 2 through 11. These prolific annuals come in a variety of heights ranging from one to five feet. The large flowers (sometimes five inches wide!) grow from sturdy stems that withstand strong winds and high temperatures. They’re perfect for your flower bed!
Native to hot and dry regions of America, the yucca (Yucca elephantipes) grows as a perennial in Zones 5 through 10. Its needle-sharp leaves create a prickly mound, followed in late spring by one or more flower-covered spikes. These shoot up from the center of the plant and bear dozens of soft cream blossoms. When other plants begin to wilt in the heat, yucca (which is considered a broadleaf evergreen) stands tall and strong, a striking showpiece in your rock garden or xeriscaped yard.
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Also known as blanket flower—most likely because a grouping of gaillardia (Gaillardia × grandiflora) resembles the natural colors and patterns inherent in traditional Native American blankets—gaillardia thrives in hot, dry temperatures. The heat-lover blooms nonstop from June through September, and it grows one to three feet tall. What’s more, gaillardia bears daisy-like blooms in a range of colors, from soft oranges and yellows to dusty reds and maroon shades. Gaillardia is a perennial in Zones 3 through 9.
A perennial in Zones 10 through 11, celosia (Celosia argentea) is grown as an annual elsewhere in the United States. This favorite bedding plant boasts brightly colored feathery plumes in orange, purple, yellow, red, and white. These blossoms rise as much as one to three feet above a base of green foliage, and they bloom from summer through fall. Celosia remains upright and strong even in sizzling heat, making it a favorite of flower gardeners across America.
One of the most popular ornamental grasses, pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) sends feathery ivory plumes up to 10 feet high, making it a top choice for natural borders and backdrops. In addition to tolerating high temperatures, pampas grass also resists drought and wind once it's established. Native to Brazil and Argentina, it's grown as a perennial in Zones 7 through 11, and it can be planted in large pots in Zones 4 through 6 if overwintered in a greenhouse.
Flourishing in the desert conditions of the southwestern United States, firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) is grown as a perennial in Zones 4 through 9. Brilliant red flowers adorn tall stalks that rise two to three feet above a leafy base. This cheerful plant starts blooming in early spring and continues through midsummer. Once established, firecracker penstemon needs very little care. It will bloom year after year while tolerating heat, drought, and windy conditions.
Home gardeners have been growing this perennial favorite for decades. Prized for its pure white blooms with brilliant yellow eyes, the Shasta daisy plant (Leucanthemum × superbum) displays a visually striking contrast between its dark green foliage and its prolific blooms, which stay strong on slender stems, even in scorching temperatures. This time-honored plant is hardy in Zones 5 through 9, but keep in mind that it doesn’t care for wet soil. The Shasta daisy is an especially great choice for containers and perennial borders.
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Also known as moss rose, purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is an annual, so it must be replanted every year. Even so, it thrives in most regions of the country—specifically in hardiness zones 2 through 11. Purslane is grown as a vegetable in South Africa, but in the United States it's famous for its brilliant blossoms and succulent leaves that survive the dog days of summer. While purslane reaches only six to eight inches in height, it can spread 18 to 20 inches, making it perfect as a ground cover or addition to a hanging basket.
Easily grown from seeds, cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is a heat-loving annual that flourishes in hardiness zones 2 through 11. In June, delicate daisy-like blooms in shades of white, pink, and purple appear on willowy stems that can reach heights of five feet. Blooming continues unabated until the first frost, even during the hottest summer months. Most gardeners grow cosmos in borders or containers. For a natural effect, let this year’s seeds drop on the ground, and you’ll have another crop of cosmos next year.
Half the battle of gardening is picking the right plants. With these blooms, you won't be doomed during peak summer heat.
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