Learning To Love Heat Tolerant Annuals

By Laura Miller | June 6, 2021
Image by dmf87
by Laura Miller
June 6, 2021

I’ve always been a little envious whenever I drive past houses with New Guinea Impatiens in the front yard. These vibrant, shade-loving flowers burst with color all summer long. It seems homeowners can’t go wrong when they mix and match the many pastel hues and warm shades offered by these carefree flowers. 

I’d love to be able to recreate that beauty in my own yard. But with a south-facing house and a heat-absorbing brick porch, my front flower beds are much too bright and hot for any flowers with a preference for shade. So which heat-tolerant annuals do well in the oasis of my front yard? Here are the seven best full-sun flowers I’ve successfully grown over the years:

  • Marigolds are one of my favorite flowers for full sun areas. These tough annuals thrive in hot, dry conditions and are available in a range of colors from creamy white to deep red. I’ve used the shorter, more compact varieties as border flowers and the taller types as accent specimens inside the flowerbeds.   
  • Petunias do best in a full-sun garden which offers a bit of protection as heavy rain tends to tear their delicate blossoms. Whether I go with a pastel palette for the year or one with bright, bold colors, I can always find petunias in the right shades and colors to highlight my other flower choices. One of my favorite color combos are bright orange marigolds surrounded by deep purple petunias.
  • Ageratum are my go-to “blue” flowers when I’m in the mood for a patriotic-themed, full-sun garden. Also available in a shades of white, pink, and lavender, I adore the abundant  tufted blossoms of these heat-tolerant annuals. I use them for borders and as accent plants where a petite flower is appreciated.
  • Geraniums, with their delicate flowers and scalloped foliage, make excellent specimen flowers for full sun gardens. They tend to be a bit pricier than other greenhouse flowers, but I overcome this obstacle by taking cuttings in the fall and rooting them over the winter. If I’m feeling pastel, I love to pair medium-pink geraniums with lavender shades of ageratum. 
  • Celosia are one my favorite heat-tolerant annuals for adding dimension and shape to my front flowerbeds. Celosia blooms all summer long with vibrant-colored plumes of yellow, pink or red. When I really want to add visual appeal, I choose one of the deep red, rippled-flower varieties of cockscomb and contrast it with bright yellow marigolds.
  • Cleome are one the best-full sun flowers for the back of the bed. Growing up to 5 feet (1.5 m.) tall, their thread-like stamens have rightly earned these annuals the nickname spider flower. I’ve found cleome can tolerate both the heat and dry conditions created by the sun-absorbing bricks of the front porch, and I adore their mixture of pastel colors. 
  • Sunflowers have the capacity to handle both heat and drought conditions, making these brilliant summertime annuals well-suited for my full-sun garden at the front of the house. I prefer dwarf, multi-branching varieties to provide plenty of height without covering the porch windows. I find the sunflower’s large quintessential blooms contrast nicely with a number of shorter, bold-colored annuals such as red geraniums and yellow celosia.
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