Pick the right plant for summer conditions

Summer is predicted to be hot every year and this can have an impact on the plants that we grow. This is especially the case if you’re growing plants in pots.

Experienced gardeners know that growing plants in pots takes a little extra care compared to those planted in the ground. This is because pot plants tend to dry out much faster than ground soil.

For this reason, select plants that are drought-resistant and can handle the heat in summer if you want them to survive and thrive. Look for Mediterranean and grey foliage plants such as lavender, olives, rosemary and succulents. For advice for your garden, courtyard or balcony check out your local hardware or garden centre who can give you advice for your local area.

Here are 7 hardy plants that can withstand the summer heat and will grow happily in the garden or pot.

1. Fan Flower (Scaevola spp.)

Scaevolas are Australian native groundcovers that can easily be grown in the garden or pot. They are also great in hanging baskets as they can trail down over the edges of the pot or cover a retaining wall.

The fan flower is a vigorous grower with small green leaves and fan-like flowers in purple, mauve or white. This hardy plant prefers to grow in full sun but can handle a little afternoon shade.

What you’ll love about this plant is that it can produce flowers for most of the year. This makes it ideal for adding some colour to your outdoor spaces. Resilient and low maintenance, it makes a great plant for poolside, decks, patios and courtyards.

Being drought-tolerant, these plants only need to be watered when the soil is dry and they require minimal maintenance once established. However, if you want to control their growth or improve their shape, tip pruning is recommended.

Prune to encourage a tidy habit and to encourage abundant flowering by regularly applying PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season.

2. Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense)

Succulent lovers should consider growing the delightful ghost plant in a succulent or rock garden or in a pot on a balcony, verandah or other outdoor space. This succulent originates from Mexico so it’s no stranger to hot summer conditions.

The ghost plant produces pretty rosettes of silvery-blue succulent leaves that have a waxy coating. Like all succulents, it needs to be grown in a very well-draining soil or succulent or cacti potting mix, with a pot that has lots of drainage holes.

Graptopetalum paraguayense should only be watered after the soil has completely dried. The best way to water this plant in a pot is to drench it at the soil level with water until the excess water comes out of the drainage holes.

Make sure that all excess water is allowed to drain away and never place a saucer under the pot. If the roots are allowed to sit in water, they will rot.

In summer, the ghost plant will produce small clusters of dainty, star-shaped flowers. These are normally white or pink in colour.

3. Carex ‘Feather Falls’

For a truly dramatic statement, this grass-like plant with variegated foliage will make an outstanding feature mass planted in the garden or in a pot around your patio or pool. The long grass-like leaves will fall over the sides of the pot in an almost symmetrical display.

This plant would look particularly effective if you have two or more in large dark brown or terracotta pots beside the entrance to your home or on either side of a path leading to your front door.

This evergreen perennial grass is both heat and frost-tolerant and requires minimal maintenance. It’s one of those ‘dream’ plants that always looks great without you having to spend hours tending to it.

To add even more interest, you’ll be delighted with the feathery flower stems that will spring from the centre of the plant during spring. Plus, if the plant starts to look a little wild, you can simply give it an all-over haircut in spring to tame all that foliage.

4.  Sea Lavender (Limonium perezii)

Sea lavender is a hardy small shrub that handles the heat of summer very well. It is a tough very hardy and drought-tolerant plant that is ideal for coastal or seaside gardens, water wise or backyard gardens.

It has deep green ruffled leaves and sprays of purple crepe paper flowers in Autumn. These flowers appear on stems that are around 40 to 50 cm tall. Being long-lasting and highly decorative they can be cut and brought indoors to display in a vase.

In the garden it is ideal in a mixed border or cottage garden, just make sure you grow it in free-draining soil, adding organic manure and homemade compost and/or Seasol Liquid Compost before planting. In a pot make a feature with a couple of plants so it’s always flowering and ensure the pot has good drainage and use a premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.

A regular application of PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives will ensure that you can enjoy masses of flowers and a healthy thriving plant. This perennial is exceptionally drought-hardy and can handle a sunny position.

Successful Hibiscus with Seasol

5. Mandevilleas

Mandevilleas (sometimes called Dipladenia) are easy-care, drought-tolerant flowering climbers that look great in in the garden climbing a trellis or pergola or in a large pot in a sunny spot. Choose a favourite colour in shades of pink, red, yellow or white and watch them bloom for many months.

Often thought of as a plant for a sub-tropical or tropical garden, they are ideal to grow in a sunny location by a poolside or outdoor entertaining area and will reward you with beautiful flowers all year round. They can be grown in cooler areas as long as they are protected from strong winds and extreme cold, however, they will stop flowering during cold weather.

Give Mandevilleas a rich, well-drained soil or premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix and moisture during hot summers to watch them take off with lush, dark green foliage. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more flowers and liquid feed regularly with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers.

Consider these varieties by picking the flower colour you like:

    • Mandevillea ‘Classic Dark Red’ produces deep red flowers and it makes a fantastic pot specimen for a courtyard or balcony.
    • Mandevillea ‘Aloha White’ is a glossy dark green climber with stunning white trumpet flowers.
    • Mandevillea ‘Jade Pink’ is a compact shrub or climber with pink flowers with yellow centres that will flower all summer long.
    • Mandevillea ‘Orange Coral’ is a dazzling trumpet-shaped blossom in shades of coral orange.

6. Hibiscus

For a touch of the tropics, why not grow one or more of the evergreen hibiscus varieties in the garden in a large pot? Select a variety that can grow to around 1 metre in height when considering growing one in a pot. These are compact enough to remain in the same pot for years as long as you replace the potting mix every two or three years.

You’ll also find hibiscus available in a huge range of flower colours so you can easily choose one in your favourite colour. To keep your hibiscus flowering abundantly, feed it regularly every 2 to 4 weeks with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Roses & Flowers. It’s also a good idea to deadhead the spent flowers as this will encourage more flowering.

Of all the different species and varieties of hibiscus available in Australia, the Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is the most hardy and will grow happily in the garden or pot during a hot Aussie summer. Hibiscus prefer a bright sunny position that is protected from strong winds. Check out the hibiscus guide for tips on growing them.

Some excellent cultivars to consider include:

    • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Tiny Tina’ with hot pink flowers
    • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Snowflake’ with stunning red flowers and variegated foliage
    • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘El Capitolo’ with outstanding ruffled apricot flowers

7. Crepe Myrtles (Lagerstroemia)

Some plants perform better when the heat is on and crepe myrtles fit perfectly into this category with their spectacular summer blooms in shades of pink, red, purple and white.

Ranging in size from shrubs to trees, their flowers last well into autumn. A tree for all seasons, they also have pretty, attractive autumn foliage and bark that’s a standout in winter.

Drought-tolerant once established these plants will benefit from a watering when the heat is hot. Preferring a bright, sunny position for at least six hours of the day, they do not do well in shade. For more tips on growing beautiful crepe myrtle check out our crepe myrtle guide.

There are different combinations of crepe myrtle foliage and flowers to make a stunning feature for any garden. Here are a few to consider:

    • Lagerstroemia indica includes named varieties with white, pink or red flowers. Some varieties also have deep burgundy to almost black leaves which contrast with pastel-tone flowers.
    • Lagerstroemia ‘Indian Summer’ range is great for something a bit different. These trees are powdery mildew resistant and include flower colours in bright fuchsia pink, deep lavender or white.
    • Lagerstroemia ‘Magic Series’ range has something for everyone with a range of semi-drawn and multi-stem crepe myrtles. With plants with deep purple or green foliage and a selection of summer flowers in bright bold red to striking white.

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