Q What are some of your favorite choices for summer plantings that handle the heat and stretch into the fall, putting fresh color into a drought-ridden backyard garden or outdoor living area?
“August is a tough time of year to be adding new annuals into the landscape. Even though it is difficult, there are still safe items to spruce up a sunny area. Lantana, zinnia, periwinkles, moss rose and a few others are pretty tough and can handle being planted during the hottest part of the year. ... And, yes, Texas does have a fall, but don’t blink or you’ll miss it.
“Garden mums, marigolds, crotons, petunias and ornamental peppers are some of the top performers for the fall. They plant well and handle the heat going into the cooler temperatures of fall, have brilliant displays of autumn harvest colors in gold, yellows, oranges and reds and will last until the first heavy frost or freeze.”
“My favorite into-fall plants are the plumbago, esperanza, Stella D’oro daylily, gold Lantana, moss rose and all the sedums. I discovered planting caladium bulbs in mid-July is awesome, too.”
“Ornamental peppers give bright red, orange and purple hues that liven up the landscape after a long, hot summer. Another choice would be Celosia plumosa, commonly known as cockscomb — conical, feathery-type blooms of primarily reds with some golden yellow, too. Your best selections will be in mid-August.”
“A lot of people who have established garden beds will put in perennials, things that come back every year, and there are some good choices that can handle the heat and stretch into the fall. One of my favorites is Centaurea , called corn flower.. ... Another is Russian sage. It’s a hardy perennial that’s very fragrant, and black-eyed Susans are really prolific and looks like big daisies.
“I also like Coreopsis, called tickseed, and zinnias and begonias do well.”
“When it comes to plants that can handle the hot Texas summers that we have, I have a few go-to favorites. Smaller annuals that can battle the heat include periwinkles, pentas and begonias.
“Shrubs that can withstand hot, arid conditions include Yuccas (both red and soft leaf that is also called a pendula), Texas sage (Compacta, Green Cloud and Silverado) and many forms of Salvia (greggii, May Night and Victoria Blue are a few of the many options).”