Even though summer is not here until mid June, it has been feeling like summer - Just think, hot and humid for the next five months. Many pansies have declined and the petunias are starting to deteriorate. So what is a gardener to plant? After all you don't want those flower beds and planters with brown foliage or to be barren when the guests arrive.
Now it was hard picking my summer favorites but I have a collection of ten plus one plants. Why the one? Well, I could not leave the last one out. But, let's start with pentas. This has to be the most durable of the summer survivors in a good array of colors that invite the butterflies and hummingbirds to visit. Grow this one in the full sun and it could last into the winter.
Not all the favorites are flowering plants. One you have to grow is the caladium. It is the plant that made Florida famous. Did you know we grow more caladium bulbs for sale than any other place in the world? Yes we do and it's in Lake Placid, Florida. Add these bulbs to the shady or sunny spots and keep them moist to have lots of color till the end of summer.
Some other plants with mainly foliage color include the ornamental sweet potatoes and crotons. Both grow best in full sun but the crotons like the shade too. Many say the foliage color of the crotons is best in the full sun but it does well any where it gets adequate water. Lots of gardeners use the sweet potatoes in planters or hanging baskets.
Continue the flower color with bush daisy, torenia, and begonias which are often used as bedding plants. Begonias do best in the filtered sun but some of the newer varieties can survive the full sun too. There are lots of varieties of begonia as both cane and wax types. Bush daisy has bright yellow flowers and can grow year-round. Torenia is usually purple or pink and can be used in ground or in containers. One additional flower you have to add to the landscape is the firespike. It grows tall and invites the butterflies and hummingbird in to visit with the bright red spikes of color.
Now there are two plants on the list you might consider bulbs but they really grow from rhizomes. Both can grow quite tall but there are short varieties too. Cannas offer lots of colors and can flower throughout the summer into fall. Gingers love the heat and summer rains. One selection known as the peacock ginger is a good replacement for the hostas which are hard to grow locally. Other ginger selections come in assorted colors and some have a wonderful fragrance.
All right, here is the extra plant - The firebush. You can get it as a native plant that grows more than six feet all or an introduction sold as a dwarf. The flowers are plentiful during the hot months and a bright orange color. Grow in the sun and they too bring in the butterflies.
There is my Ten Plus One plant selection for summer. You are sure to be pleased with anyone or the whole collection.