I'm well into my second month in Chicago and I find myself pondering something that I never would have associated with this part of the country: plants that love the heat. In fact, I've spent more time in this past few weeks thinking about plants that love the heat than plants that tolerate the cold. Before moving here, I was super concerned about surviving a winter, now I find myself praying that I make it through the summer.
When temps are regularly in the high 90's to low 100's, many plants will suffer from heat stress... particularly if said plants are expecting temps in the mid to upper 80's. Though I am still holding out hope that next summer will be on the milder side, I thought I'd use this weather as inspiration to write about those plants that soar right along with the temperatures. Oh and a disclaimer here, I am not going to include succulents or cacti. For that information, you should toddle on over to Debra Lee Baldwin's site. She knows WAY more than I ever will about the subject.
Tropicals: It's likely that you already know that tropicals are a great choice for the heat. There are plenty to choose from, all shapes, sizes and colors. Tropicals are great for containers that can move from indoors to out. One of my favorite tricks is to start tropicals in containers and then move them into spaces in my borders when the heat knocks out a plant or three.
A few that I really love:
- hardy bananas
Container Plants: A plant that can take the heat in the confines of a container is a real trooper. It doesn't get the benefit of cool roots from border plantings and it is likely sitting on a screaming hot cement patio. Here are a few that do an admirable job:
Border Plants: There are a lot of plants that can tolerate, and even thrive, in the heat...particularly if they are well established. I've tried a good lot of them...particularly when I lived in Oklahoma. One thing to remember is that it is not always the temperature by itself that is the problem. Sometimes it is the blast furnace wind that dehydrates everything in its path. If scalding winds are a problem for your plants, consider adding a hardscape element (like a fence or statuary) to offer a bit of shelter. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Echinacea (particularly White Swan)
- Rudebeckia (Cherry Brandy, Cappucino)
- Petunias (White Russian)
- Coleus ('Under the Sea' series)
- Amaranthus (Love-Lies-Bleeding, Hot Biscuits)
Thinking about all of this heat has made me...well...hot. I'm off to stand in the sprinkler while drinking a tall, cold glass of lemonade.