An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 14, 2010

Bloom Day - August Survivors and Thrivers

In order to have any color in August, beyond green, I usually plant annuals that will carry the garden through the hottest part of the season. This summer in particular has been a trial with long stretches of high heat, and no to little rain (until recently). Over the years I have found some things that give lots of color with minimal effort on my part. One annual I try to plant every year are Zinnias, in particular the Profusion Series, but this year they were not available for some reason. After reassurance from a co-worker, I ended up trying a new one, Zahara Fire (Zinnia marylandica 'Zaraha Fire'). Like the Profusions, I have had no mildew problems, they have bloomed non-stop, put up with the heat, humidity and drought, but the flowers are larger and a bit showier.

Zinnia marylandica 'Zahara Fire' (2)

Another annual I plant regularly is Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia), and I usually pair a dark purple variety with a chartreuse Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita').

Angelonia angustifolia (2)

For the past few years I have been planting a tropical Butterfly Weed (Asclepias curassavica). This summer I was late getting them in and they are just now beginning to bloom, and I have also noticed that last year's plants must have set seeds which should be blooming soon as well.

Asclepias curassavica

One of my favorite summer plants is not grown for its flowers. The old-fashioned, shade loving Coleus (Solenostemon scutellariodes) never had much appeal to me, but I very much like the newer Sun Coleus, whose cultivar numbers seem to increase exponentially every year. I am currently having a summer fling with 'Big Red Judy'.

Solenostemon scutellariodes 'Big Red Judy' (3)

The Kong Series of Coleus came out several years ago and like the older varieties, prefers shade, but has much larger leaves (and a few blue flowers).

Solenostemon scutellariodes

Most Lantanas (Lantana camara) are annuals for us, but until this winter I had several varieties that managed to come back. We lost all but the hardy 'Miss Huff', so I replanted with the less sprawly, more compact 'Ann Marie'.

Lantana Camara 'Ann Marie'

Here is the unflappable 'Miss Huff'.

Lantana camara 'Miss Huff' (3)

Another perennial that has proven able to withstand the heat and humidity, without any foliage issues has been Phlox paniculata 'Coral Creme Drop'.

Phlox paniculata 'Coral Creme Drop'

Dahlias are more or less hardy here. The first one came from an assorted pack, and the second is one of the Bishops, but I'm sorry I don't know which one.

Dahlia (2)


Blooming since June is Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

The recent rains have given the already long-blooming Crape Myrtles a second wind. They are so generous with their blossoms, they even give a few to plants that wouldn't normally have any, like this fern.

Cyrtomium falcatum

The last photo is of Golden Brocade Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki'). While it has no flowers, it is hard to miss that color.

Trachelospermum asiaticum 'Ogon Nishiki' (4)

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day occurs on the 15th of each month. Gardeners from all over the world post what is blooming in their gardens and send them into GBBD Central, deep within the green hills of Indiana, where CEO Carol @ May Dreams Gardens keeps everything in order. Please pay her a visit and be sure to thank her for the effort.


  1. Will have to try that Zahara Fire next year on your recommendation!

  2. Oh how I admire/that fab Zahara Fire!
    Angelonia too/ makes me jealous of you! Great pix of interesting blooms :)

  3. Your post reminds me not to take the survivors and thrivers for granted. I totally overlooked my crepe myrtle, narrowleaf zinnia, and lantana. Doh!

  4. Hey Les, it seems that we are sharing many of the same plants. Great minds think alike - ha ha ha!!
    I really like the Zahara Fire zinnias. This is my first year growing them. I'm definitely going to plant more of it next year.

  5. I really enjoy visiting your wonderful site and seeing these amazing photos and learning of all the beautiful plants that I will definately try in my garden. Thanks!

  6. i agree with your other commentators - the Zahara Fire is a winner! here's to the survivors and thrivers...

  7. Beautiful Salvia in black and blue, I only have it in red.

  8. I love your photos! I tried zinnias for the first time this year, but I've had lots of trouble with mildew. I'll need to try this variety.

  9. Hi. I am a beginner gardener in Wburg. So happy I found your fabulous blog. I too planted zinnias and they are going strong through the heat.

    I am trying to focus on native plants and have several started. I hope to see a great plant show next spring and summer.

    I can't wait to read you past blog entries.

    Thank you!

  10. I too love that Profusion Series of Zinnia as well as Angelonia. Their great troopers in our summer heat. Gorgeous blooms this month Les. Miss Huff is such a great Lantana, wish their were more hardy types for our area. :)

  11. Jim,
    I tried the Candy series Phlox on your recommendation.

    Don't be jealous.

    I am sure they will forgive you.

    Great minds indeed.

    Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments.

    Thanks for coming by.

    It is one of the best salvias.

    You will not have mildew with Zaraha, or Profusion.

    Welcome to blogging world. I will look you up.

    The other hardy I know are Star Landing and Grandpa's Pumpkin Patch.


  12. i'm with all the others who loved the zahara fire zinnia. you just can't beat zinnias in my book, anyway.

  13. Your Coleus caught my eye. I had relegated it to the realms of 1970's bedding plant, beloved of municipal gardening here. But this variety looks interesting.

    Your flowers are all very - zingy is the word that comes to mind. The black and blue sage is interesting. I've seen it on a few blogs this summer, but not in gardens here.

  14. Daricia,
    No you can't beat this one or the Profusions. They are a no brainer.

    I am with you to relegate some coleus to the history books, but within the past decade there has been an explosion of new varietes. They are much more interesting, varied and tolerant of strong sun.