Its still summer. Sigh. Our “famously hot” summers are no joke. The hot and humid weather is a challenge to us and to most of the plants that we try to nurture through to fall. There are those, however, that do well or do their best in these conditions. Here are my top 5:
1. Zinnias – who can resist these happy blooms? They come in every color but blue. There are multiple sizes and shapes available. They can be started fairly easily from seed and if you cut and feed them weekly, they will produce flowers for your home for weeks. They are prone to powdery mildew, so here in Columbia, plant them further apart than the seed pack recommends. I plant mine a foot apart (Benary’s Giants) so there is plenty of airflow between the plants. Cutting them frequently also keeps the vegetation thinned out, further improving the airflow.
2. Basil – yup, you read that right. All bouquets need greenery to make the blooms pop. Basil does the trick. Using Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon or Cinnamon also adds a lovely fragrance to your bouquet. When growing basil as a cut flower, you need to let the plant bloom and let the stem get woody before you cut it. This is the opposite of what you would do if you are growing it to eat. Basil grows well in full sun in the spring, but in the summer give it a little bit of shade to keep it happy.
3. Globe amaranth – this sweet bloom doesn’t even get going well until it gets hot. Really hot. It may seem like it isn’t going to do anything, but when the heat rises, it produces a profusion of blooms from a single plant. It will keep producing until the fall frosts arrive. It comes in white, light and dark pink, red and orange.
4. Sunflowers – these magical blooms are not bothered by the heat. We grow the pollenless single stem varieties for bouquets, but the branching varieties will also do fine when we’re wilting. Did you know that you can affect the size of the blooms by how you space the plants? Planting them 6 inches apart will give you blooms that are right-sized for a bouquet. At 12 inches apart, the larger, more typical flower head with form from the same seed. Be sure to cut them before they are fully open so that bugs don’t ruin the blooms.
5. Celosia – This comes in many forms – spike, fan or brain and wheat. They all add texture and color to your bouquet. They come in good variety of colors so you can use this to round out the mix. Be sure to pick this one before the seed forms or you will find little black droppings on the table under your bouquet.
If you want to have something to cut in your garden in the hottest part of summer, these plants can fill the bill. Do you have any other favorite annuals that do well in this heat?