Annuals that Thrive in Shade and Heat

Alocasia Boa with NG Impatiens Fanfare OrchidWhen it comes to summer flowers, shade can be a challenge especially in hot, humid climates like Miami, where irrigation systems installed by Miami plumbers seem de rigueur. Annuals offer an effective way to provide months of color, especially if you plant not only those with colorful flowers but selections with striking foliage too.   

This is part two of the series of articles I wrote about annuals I like for 2012 and Trial gardens around the US where gardeners can get great information on the best selections for their region.

Alocasia or Elephant Ears (most are tropical plants that love humidity) come in all sizes and shapes and do best in at least partial shade. The selection ‘Boa’ grows 5 to 6’ tall and is great in containers.  New Guinea Impatiens like ‘Fanfare Orchid’ make a colorful companion for this dramatic foliage plant.

Alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’ has a compact habit with dark burgundy foliage. This charmer grows 15 to 18 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide, perfect for pots, hanging baskets or as filler in the garden.

Bush Violet (Browallia speciosa look for the Bell Blue selection): This annual has a mounded habit growing 10 to 12 inches high and 12 to 14 inches wide. It is ideal for containers, hanging baskets or mixed into the perennial garden for summer and fall color.

Caladium ‘Blushing Bride’ will tolerate sun but is happy in part shade. This strap leaved variety has pink to reddish pink mid-veins and green margins. Grows 12 to 18 inches tall.

Caladium ‘Candyland’ is a strap leaved variety with red, green and white leaves. It will tolerate sun but does best with protection from hot afternoon sun. Grows 12 to 24 inches tall.

Canna ‘Australia’ grows up to 60 inches tall and has striking purple foliage and intense red flowers. It will grow in part shade or full sun. Add some drama to your garden.

Coleus (Solenostemon scuttellarioides): some selections I like that will grow in shade or sun include ‘Splish Splash’ with green and red leaves, ‘Vino’ with deep wine colored leaves (color is darker in full sun) and ‘Wasabi’ with chartreuse foliage.

Wishbone flowers (Torenia selections): ‘Yellow Moon’ The yellow flowers have maroon throats and bases. There is a series of these including ‘White Moon’ has white flowers with yellow markings. These tough annuals will grow in sun or shade.

Erica Glasener writes for Networx, where you can find information on ecological HVAC systems and other green home issues.

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