Sun and Heat Tolerant Plants for Florida Landscaping
Summers in Gainesville can be brutal! Selecting plants that thrive in our climate will help keep your lawn healthy and looking nice throughout the year.
Heat Tolerant Plants
A great choice for butterfly gardens, these plants are hearty and prolific. People often mistake them for weeds because of how rampantly they grow. Lantana requires very little attention and maintenance, which is convenient since yard work is the last thing most of us want to do in the summer. The flowers come in a huge variety of colors, and many even change colors as they age. You’re sure to find a cultivar of Lantana that will work for your landscaping.
Native to Mexico, these late-blooming annuals are resistant to wilting from the heat. Their name is the Greek word for harmony; they are called this for the uniformity of their petals, which symmetrically surround a central disk. Cosmos come in pink, red, white, lavender, and orange. They bloom late into the summer, so you can enjoy these flowers through the hottest months.
It’s no wonder these fiery red and orange flowers are heat resistant; they look like the sun itself! We see Marigolds in the autumn as their colors are similar to fall foliage, but they bloom all summer long. Also called Calendula, there are a few cultivars that yield flowers of different shapes. Some are ruffled like carnations, and others are shaped more like daisies with flower petals around a center. They’re beautiful, aromatic, and simple to care for.
This hearty, flowering shrub is a favorite for teas and medicinal uses. It has delicate clusters of white flowers, and pointed green leaves. When crushed, the leaves emit a powerful citrus aroma. This feature is why the Lemon Verbena was originally cultivated to harvest its oils. Native to South America, these beautiful plants thrive in our climate and help to ward off flies and mosquitoes.
Sun Tolerant Plants
This is a great groundcover plant for difficult-to-plant locations. It’s tough, drought-resistant, and works well in shade but thrives in the sun. Called lilyturf or monkey grass, liriope comes in a deep green color, or with streaks of blue or white on its variegated leaves. In the summer, it flowers, creating an attraction for hummingbirds and butterflies. Growing 12-18 inches tall, it’s a great choice for edging hardscape paths or plant beds. Liriope isn’t particular about light or soil conditions but prefers a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
Another favorite of butterflies, Pentas have lush foliage and bunches of delicate flowers with pointed petals. Like many warm-seasoned perennials, they are easy to care for and thrive in full sun. These plants can be grown from seed or cuttings, and do so easily, though they are a little slow to flower. They are perfect for adding year-round color and texture in Florida landscaping.
These ornamental flowers are native to Brazil, so for them, the heat of the summer here in Gainesville is a breeze. Planting should be done in July and September in order to enjoy the blooming in mid-spring. While they bloom in May, the Regina Iris has tall, leafy foliage that gives coverage and visual interest year-round.
The heat and sun of a Gainesville summer don’t mean you have to sacrifice the color, fragrance, and vibrancy of a lush landscape. You and your landscape designer can plan your plantings to ensure that you enjoy your yard year-round, even if you’re relishing it through a window in your air-conditioned home.