The heat is on this summer, and many gardeners are wondering which flower varieties will perform the best during these hot, sultry days. To help gardeners decide, researchers at the University of Georgia's trial gardens in Athens have developed a line of recommended plants based on their trials. This year's Athens Select winners all grow well in the heat and are good choices for those living in warm climates (USDA zones 7-10). In other regions, they can be grown as annuals.
Ornamental grasses have become very popular over the last 10 years, especially varieties with colorful foliage. Two new fountain grasses perform well and hold their leaf color in the heat and humidity of a Southern summer. Pennisetum 'Prince' and Pennisetum 'Princess' both have purple foliage that not only doesn't fade in the heat, it actually becomes more purple as the summer gets hotter. 'Prince' grows 5 to 6 feet tall, and the shorter 'Princess' reaches only 2 to 3 feet tall.
Setcreasea pallida 'Blue Sue', also known as the blue-leaved, purple-heart plant, has blue-tinged leaves with a purple margin. The foliage contrasts well with the pink flowers. This low-growing, compact plant is best planted in the front of a border or in a hanging basket or container. It grows equally well in full sun or part shade.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these and other Athens Select plants helps fund plant research at the University of Georgia. For more information on other choice heat-loving plants, go to: Athens Select.