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Bring on the Heat!

The summer of 2016 will go down in the books for its extreme heat and humidity — conditions that can stress many plants.  As you plan 2017, check out these classic and new varieties that showed exceptional ability to stand up to intense heat. 

New cuttings are tested
A view of Four Star’s Display Gardens in the summer of 2017, with several heat-loving varieties.

The ultimate test of a Proven Winners® or Proven Selections® plant is its performance in real life conditions.  Whether you’re a grower or retailer, you want plants that will thrive for the ultimate customer — home gardeners. 

The Display Gardens at Four Star Greenhouse were developed to highlight the beauty of Proven Winners annuals, perennials, grasses and shrubs in a real garden atmosphere.  Additionally, the gardens serve as another of our trialing venues for newly introduced plants.

We talked with Pat Seibel, Display Garden Supervisor and Product Line Manager Assistant about which classic and new varieties withstood this summer’s trying conditions the best.

New cuttings are tested
Luscious® Berry Blend™ Lantana is one of several Lantana who thrive in hot, dry conditions.

Heat and drought, then rain

“This summer was a very hot, dry summer here in Michigan,” Seibel says, “until it rained!  When it did rain, it rained very hard and put down a lot of water.”  These conditions meant that during long dry periods, plants grew more slowly to conserve their resources, then had to deal with excess water in the soil.

“We let the plants grow under natural conditions and only drip irrigated beds weekly, including some fertilizer in the water to keep plants going.  But mostly they survived well with natural rain,” he explains.

This weather pattern was typical of much of the middle and eastern United States in the summer of 2017.

“Through it all, the best performers continued to flower profusely,” he notes. “Some plants stayed smaller than they would typically grow, but continued to bloom all summer long.”

Heat lovers that thrive

We asked Seibel to name specific varieties or genera that he thought did exceptionally well in this summer’s conditions. Here are his favorites:

  • Ipomoea Green with Envy™ — This is a vigorous plant that really thrived in the heat, much more vigorous than Sweet Caroline Bewitched After Midnight™.  It was a beast!
  • Canna Toucan™ — These plants grew to be stunning beauties with proper moisture — they grew to 4 to 5 ft. tall.  Scarlet is especially striking with its darker leaves.
  • Begonia Surefire® — Everyone thinks this is a shade plant but it actually does well in more sunny settings too.  In the very sunny dry conditions, it still grew and flowered well.
  • Lantana Luscious® — These are so heat tolerant!  I think they flower better when conditions are drier. 
  • Gomphrena — Taller Gomprena like Forest™ look great planted in beds with other plants — the balls of flowers pop up above the others.  Lil’ Forest™ have shorter stems and make great impact on their own, especially in combinations.  Both tolerate drier beds and love the heat.
  • Pelargonium Timeless™ — These thrive in the heat, flower all summer long and extend the season.  I think they also tolerate some shade well.
  • Artemisia Quicksilver™ — Dry, hot weather is ideal for this vigorous ground cover, which did extremely well and formed a uniform height of around 8 inches.  It really does like the drier beds.
  • Angelonia Angelface® Perfectly Pink — This improved variety is more compact than the original Pink and gave us a beautiful, uniform look in our landscape beds. Perfectly Pink stayed a little shorter in the toughest weather, but continued to provide lots of blooms throughout the season.
  • Cyperus Graceful Grasses® Prince Tut™ — Excellent heat lover that is more compact than King Tut®.  Make sure it has enough moisture in containers.
  • Mecardonia Golddust® — This is a dynamite ground cover that is amazing in hot and dry weather.  It doesn’t need a lot of water.
  • Sedum Lemon Coral™ — This succulent loves hot and dry conditions and is another excellent landscape addition.
  • Cuphea Vermillionaire® — Heat and humidity are this plant’s favorite conditions, while it tolerates higher amounts of water. 
  • Evolvulus Blue My Mind® — This plant likes conditions hotter than most and also likes it dry. 
  • Gaura — Great in the heat, but make sure they have enough water.
New cuttings are tested
The improved Angelface® Perfectly Pink Angelonia provided profuse blooms and uniform growth throughout summer’s hottest days.

Graceful Grasses® Prince Tut™ is more compact than King Tut® and flourished in the Four Star Display Gardens during the summer.


Pat’s Tips for Hot Summer Growing

1. Pay attention to plants’ water needs.  Every plant has different water requirements so make sure they have enough for their needs.  Many plants fend well for themselves but be aware of special needs.  And don’t overwater — I find people have more problems when they overwater plants.

2. Feed flowering plants regularly.  Across the board, the number one factor for success is to regularly feed heavily flowering plants.  We use slow release fertilizer to keep ours flowering in the most extreme conditions.

3.  Look for plants that thrive in the summer but also work well earlier and later in the season.  Varieties like Supertunia Petunia, Boldly™ and Timeless Pelargonium, and Lantana are just a few that can thrive through several seasons and adapt to the conditions.

For more information about these and other heat loving varieties, contact us at or 734-654-6420.

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